Opals are loved for their bright fire and flash within the stone. Colours range in hue from pale creams and whites, pale blues and greens through to bright fiery reds, blues, pinks and greens. Opals are traditional thought of as being sourced from Australia, but they are found the world over.
We now live in an age, when consumers are more concerned about diminishing natural resources and cultured gemstones are becoming more and more popular
As opals become more scarce, their cost has risen and so man-made or lab-created opals were developed to supply the ever-growing demand for this gorgeous stone and to make it more affordable for everyone.
Man-made opals are created with the SAME chemical composition, atomic property and appearance as organic opals. They are basically identical to natural opals - except in price.
"Synthetic opal is opal that has been made in a laboratory. It has the same chemical and physical properties as natural, mined opal. That means that synthetic opal is real opal." (International Gem Society)
The introduction of lab-created opals to the market is credited to Pierre Gilson in 1974. He also introduced other synthetic gemstones such as turquoise and lapis lazuli.
How durable is lab-created Opal?
Lab-created Opals have a similar hardness to top quality Austrlian Opal which sits at 6.5 on the Mohs scale. As it is infused with polymer resin, lab-created opals have a better durability as the resin gives it some flexibility which allows it to better withstand impacts. Natural opal however, can crack and chip under force.
Caring for your Opals
Natural opals have a high water content and so are sensitive to high or low temperatures. Don't wear them if you are using a hot hairdryer or sauna.
Lab-created opals are less sensitive to changes in temperature.
As with all jewellery, wash them in mild detergent and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. Do NOT use jewellery cloths which are impregnated with chemicals.