Want to know the differences between opal and opalite?
You're in the right place!
In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the following questions:
- Is Opalite Real Opal?
- Is Opal a Durable Gemstone?
- Real Opalite vs Fake Opalite?
Main Differences between Opalite vs Opal
The main differences between opal vs opalite are:
Opals are referred to gemstones valued for their play of color, whereas opalite may be referring to natural material without play of color or imitation opals .
Natural opalite is different from man made opalite, where as synthetic opal has the same properties as natural opal
Opalite may be common natural opal or it may be imitation opal, whereas opal may be natural or may be lab-created.
Man made opalite is made of glass and metal, whereas lab grown opal is still a real gemstone.
Opal vs Opalite: Origin
An opal gemstone is formed through a compound made of silicon dioxide. Opals are typically found in water deposits. When water flows in certain areas, the minerals tumbled through the water mix with the silicon dioxide spheres. The spheres mix with the hot water through the earth to where the water eventually evaporates.
Because opal picks up different minerals in the water, it is often mixed with other gemstones or materials. Opalized wood, jasper opal, agate opal, and opalized petrified wood are all examples of the tiny spheres picking up minerals.
Opals have been used for hundreds of years. It's also the birthstone for the spooky month of October.
Opal is also the national gemstone of Australia, one of the biggest opal deposits in the world. They are also home to black opals in Lightning Ridge. Different varieties of opal can be found in other places such as India, Ethiopia, and Mexico.
Opalite may refer to common opal (real opal with no play of color) or imitation opal. Imitation opalite is most often made of pretty glass rather any opal at all. It may also be a combination of glass, plastic, and resin.
Though it used to be more often referred to as common opal, opalite is more used as a trade name for fake opal. You might also hear it referred to as the tiffany stone.
Natural opalite may be found wherever opal material is found. Imitation opalite can be learned by anyone who works with glass materials.
Opal vs Opalite: Appearance
There are many different varieties of opal, as well as natural opalite as common opal. Opals are cut en cabochons in order to display their play of color best. There are still faceted pieces of opal stones, but they're not as valuable.
There's an exception to that, however. Mexican opal is often faceted and valued as such. The opal material is valued for fiery orange color, also earning it the nickname "fire opal".
Most people know a natural opal gemstone with a base milky white color. Depending on the quality of the cabochon cut, it should display a rainbow effect pattern. There are different kinds of patterns an opal can show. Generally, the stronger and bigger the natural opal, the more valuable.
The black opals I mentioned earlier aren't technically black. They're more of a dark blue base. Some have more gray secondary tones, giving it a darker look. The play of color is especially strong in these gems, making them the most valuable of all true opal material.
Synthetics & Imitation Opal
Synthetic opal is the same as lab grown opal or lab created opal. They all have the same chemical properties, physical properties, and optical properties as opal. They can display a brilliant pattern that may rival a natural opal stone.
Imitation opal may be another name for the kind of opalite that contains no natural opal at all. Moonstone may be also used as imitation stone, but it exhibits adularescence instead of play of color like opal.
Natural opalite has no play of color, so common opal is not valued the same other opals. It can be cut en cabochon, but it defeats the purpose of the beauty of an opal. It still may be faceted or cut in a high domed cabochon.
The color of opalite may occur in green, lavender, or purple colors and can also show a cat’s eye effect. Opalite cat's eye material is a little more difficult to find, but still not too valuable. More often in occurs in a milky white base color with any of the those colors mixed above.
Imitation opalite or imitation opal made of glass and other materials can occur in whichever shade they made it in. It's most often considered to have the translucency of opal or moonstone.
Synthetics & Imitation
In the gem market today, opalite is most often found as the man made version of opal, rather than its low quality gems. It may be made up of a variety of materials.
Opal vs Opalite: Price & Value
Ovals have a more complicated grading system than opalite. In fact, opalite is a grade of opal itself. Man made opalite has no resale value and can be obtained affordably.
Natural opalite is common opal, so it doesn't have a high value. You can find it ranging from $1-$65 per carat. An opalite cat's eye gem may go for a bit more. The cost of yellow or white gold settings exceed the value of opalite stones.
Lab created opals won't have much of a resale value and can be under $150 for a sterling silver ring in a large size. Remember, they have the same basic chemical properties as opals formed in nature.
Read also: Sterling Silver vs Gold
When comparing opalite vs opal, you'll find that natural opal gems are more varied in their price. Opal stones are valued for their play of color rather than clarity or color tint. Some varieties of the natural stone may cost more than others. A natural stone could run you from $50-$5000 per carat.
As for the value of opalite vs opal. I don't recommend either of these gemstones for an engagement ring. After all, there's not much of difference between their overall durability.
Read also: Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring
Opalite is either manmade glass or resin, which can scratch pretty easy. Glass rates a 5 on the Moh scale, making it vulnerable to damage by daily dirt or dust. Similarly, an opal gem occurring in nature has a hardness of 4.5-5.
Despite its beauty, opals nor opalites should be worn everyday. Some people still have chosen the gem for a center stone and done quite well with it. If you don't choose to heed my warning, just make sure you take care of it well and keep in clean and dry.
I hope you've found this article helpful in telling the difference between opalite and opals. Both stones have beauty, but there are many distinct differences between them.
Opals are very popular stones in the jewelry industry and can be found both locally or online. Opalite is a less common material to find in a jewelry store because most of it isn't a real gemstone.
Neither of these stones make great bridal jewelry, but still deserve a spot in your jewelry collection.
If you still opt for opals or opalites over diamonds, choosing a protective ring setting will make a world of difference.
Read also: Best Opal Engagement Rings