What is the meaning of solid opal, are opal gems found in any other form other than solid? Is my opal gemstone solid? Are solid opal gems better than opals that are not solid? What is the color of a solid opal gem?
These are the most common set of questions that opal lovers who have just heard of the term, solid opal, have in mind. In scientific terms you would say that any matter exists in one of three states, solid, liquid and gaseous. Unfortunately gemstone jargon is not that simply defined and explained. When you say that an opal gemstone is a solid opal, you refer to more than just the physical state of the opal gem.
To be more precise we would say that, an opal gemstone that is composed entirely of opal is referred to as a solid opal. So what this means is that, solid opals are just one single gem, they do not include any material besides opal. The tricky thing is to interpret the term 'single gem' and that single gem, should be opal. So if you took two pieces of natural opal gems and bonded them together - you would get just opal but, the resulting opal gem would not be composed of just one piece. So you would not be able to refer to this gem as a solid opal.
Here is another very interesting example of an opal gem that, would not be classified as a solid opal. Natural opal is formed on a base rock which is commonly known as boulder rock. During the mining, cutting and polishing of the opal gemstone the opal needs to be separated from the boulder rock. In some cases, the opal formation on the rock is so thin that separating it would give you a very weak and fragile piece of opal gemstone. Gem manufacturers sometimes, cut such opal gems and retain a part of the base rock with the opal. This increases the overall mass of the opal gems and makes the stone more useful. While the entire gemstone is just one piece, it would strictly not be a solid opal. This is because of the boulder rock component that remained stuck to the opal.
Similar to a portion of the rock being left on the opal, is another interesting case. It is not uncommon to find opal formations in small pieces and bits within pits and holes in a piece of rock. Such opal might not have mass within each of those small pieces. Gem cutters sometimes, cut and polish pieces of the entire rock without separating the opal from the rock. Another case where, opal is left with the rock in which it is naturally formed. You will not understand quite clearly that, this type of stone could not be grouped in the category of solid opal gemstones.
After all the above explaining, we come to an important question. Are solid opals better than opal gems that are not solid. It might seem that a solid opal gem is more valuable than an opal that is not solid but, arguments against this statement are quite convincing. When you talk about opal doublet and opal triplet gems the argument is that, these assembled opals impart a higher degree of toughness to the opal. So while the staunch gem expert, might not care much about triplet and doublet opals. The fact remains that these opals though not classified as solid opal, add a fair degree of toughness to opal gems. This is of importance for buyers who expect to wear their opal jewelry in environments where, being too careful is not possible.
We will not pass any judgements on solid opals and opal gems that are not solid opal gems. Once you have read and understood the above information, make a buying decisions keeping the above information in mind. Just make sure that you pay the right price, for the type of opal gem that you will be getting.
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