How to select the right opal
In this chapter we are going to explain seven points about how we can choose the right opal without confusion. here are seven points for selecting opal.
- POINT 1 Choose the right retailer (shop)
- POINT 2 Choose the right sales person
- POINT 3 Compare
- POINT 4 Look at the back
- POINT 5 Look at the side
- POINT 6 Look at it under the sunlight
- POINT 7 Look at it as a loose stone
Let's see one by one.
POINT 1 Choose the right retailer (shop)
If you are going to buy a car or an electric appliance, it's easy to compare. Because these merchandise are easy to identify by brand or model number. So if you have already decided on a model, all you have to do is to compare the price between retailers. On the other hand, for selecting a piece of jewellery it's not the same. Each piece of gem is different and has a unique character. You can not compare retailers by their prices. You have to find a good retailer which you can trust for choosing the right gem or jewellery.
How can we find a good retailer? Here's our point. Do not judge by the size of the shop or by the company name. We know there are many good small retailers that the owner will select their merchandise by themselves and give the right price to their clients. Jewellery store do not run a business in a similar manner as a big supermarket or discount store. If you are looking for accessories or something that doesn't last long, you can go to discount stores and buy their special, promotional merchandise. If you want the right jewellery which you can wear for a lifetime and pass it to your child or grandchild in future, forget about discount stores.
The first point you have to observe carefully is "How is the display ?", "Is it neat and tidy ?" "Is there any dust on the jewellery ?". Even if their display materials are not funky or stylish, but the jewellery is well maintained, the retailer is generally very good. Secondly, the retailer, where exaggerate a discount like "Up to 70% Off" or "Big Sale" too much ,or has many banners and tickets everywhere in their shop, you have to be careful with these kind of shops. They try to sell the price not the jewellery, so it's often hard to find good quality jewellery from this type of shops.
POINT 2 Choose the right sales person (shop asisstant)
This is a little similar with POINT 1. Find the right person who has good knowledge and can give you wide information. If sales person will keep emphasizing you about the price or discount, just ignore and go to find another staff member or another store. A person who can tell you everything about the character of each gem and can show how to maintain it, is the right sales person that you are looking for. Don't rely on a person who will only keep saying "It's very nice" or " It suites you very much", without further advices.
Thirdly, watch carefully how she or he handles the jewellery. The person who handles carefully and smoothly is the person who knows the real value of gems (which means they have enough knowledge).
POINT 3 Compare
Before making your decision you should compare your favourable one with others. At least have a look at three other opals, and ask everything about differences in each piece to sales person. The reason for price difference, good (merit) or bad (demerit) aspects for each opal (Please don't waste your time with a sales person who can't explain this). If you do this, you can get an idea by yourself. If possible, you should also have a look at a much higher valued opal than your budget, and compare with the one within your budget. You can get more knowledge and confidence in selecting the right gem.
POINT 4 Look at the back
It's a good idea that you always look at the back of each stone when you see gem stone or jewelleries. Especially for opal, you can't find real colours through the show case. Ask to take out of the case and hold it in your hand. Also tilt the opal, so you can find "play of colour". Next step, turn it upside down and look at its back. If you find the back side of in jewellery is covered by the material like gold or silver, ask the sales person for its reason. Most of the jewellery in solid opals are not covered, except when been enhanced (refer ADVANCED, again don't waste your precious time with the sales person who can't explain this). For Black or Boulder opal, you don't have to worry about any small scratches or sticked sands at the back of opal if it doesn't show or make any influence to the face colour.
POINT 5 Look at the side
Next step is, looking from the side of opal. If you do this properly, you can find it is solid or man made.
These pictures are of the same stone from face and side. You can't tell if it's a solid opal in the left picture, but once you look from the side, you can easily find this is not solid opal. The picture of the right hand side, you can see the edge of black backing and the opal is unnaturally clear. This is not solid stone. It's called "Doublet Opal". Half of the right side (right picture) is natural white opal, but another half is black plastic or onyx. Stick these two parts by glue, then white opal will change its colour become similar to a Black opal. This is good for just an accessary because you can have good colour opal without spending much, but the value as a gem is much less than solid opal. Some people buy this without noticing the difference and regret their purchases. We hope this does not happen to you. Be careful.
These pictures show how these types of opals are made. The blue colour part is white opal and other part in black is plastic or onyx. As we mentioned before, the value as a gem of these are very low and you can not put these kind of opals into water. Because if water goes into the part which is glued, the glue turns to a milky substance then all colours will fade or disappear.
POINT 6 Look at it under the sunlight
We are not saying you have to take the stone out of the shop and look under the sun. If you do this without notice, you will definitely go to jail. But, if possible, it's a good idea to have a look under the sunlight. Usually we look at a gem or a jewellery under the halogen lights which most jewellery shops have. For looking at an opal, it's good idea to look under different types of lights as much as you can. So what we suggest you do is look under the fluorescence lights, daylight or even under the shade. If you do this you may find another character of that opal.
POINT 7 Look at it as a loose stone
As we talked about in the last paragraph, it's very important to look from the side, the back and of course the top. Sometimes it's a bit hard to do this if the stone is mounted into a setting. We are not saying it is not good idea to buy the mounted opal, but it's easier to know everything when you're having a good look at the stone. If it's mounted, you must ask the sales person as many questions as you can (once again, don't waste your precious time to spend together with the sales person who can't answer your questions). After all, the beauty and quality of opal is more important than the setting if you want to enjoy your opal jewellery for a long time to come.
We have just spoken about the seven points of buying opals. Do not take these too seriously, we just recommend that you find the right retailer and right person who can give you confidence about your choice. We believe there is the one opal which has some meaning to you, and we hope that you find it.