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Author Topic: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows  (Read 468 times)

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Bluetangclan

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Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« on: August 19, 2017, 01:41:59 PM »

Was wandering around the downtown area in the town I am deployed in since we had a down day. Decided to go opal hunting in the jewelry stores that are everywhere in this town. Had a blast. First one I went into I found their opal section and saw some very nice Ethiopian rings and pendants. Looked in the next section over and found some Aussie opal. So me being me I asked for a closer look. They were charging $2200 for a doublet. The back was exposed and there was very little gold present. What it did have was a rather rough either basalt or black jade backing. I could see where they beveled it fairly unevenly. She insisted it was solid. Then I looked at an earring set she said was boulder. It was open sided, stupidly thin. This she admitted was a doublet, but the backing was boulder opal too(it totally wasnt) and thus sold as a solid opal. I explained to her the reasoning behind doublets and triplets briefly and why you would not use boulder opal as a backing for other opal. Her reply was "Are you a gemologist?", "No","Well I think I know what I am talking about." , "Are you a lapidarist who works in opal almost exclusively?","No", "Well I think since I actually order the rough from Australia, cut, polish, and mount it, to include making doublets and triplets, I think I know what I am talking about." I found it entertaining anyway. I then went around to different stores and talked to workers about their opal and helped a few identify what they were unsure of. Found some nice pieces. I told one about hydrophane opals and how they would stick to your fingers and she went and showed everyone how cool it was with some estate jewelry.

-on a side note, holy crap is laramar super common now. You would think they found another mine with how much I saw and how big some of the pieces were. Lots of large ethiopian as well. Far more than any other kind.
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rocks2dust

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2017, 02:06:53 PM »

Funny and sad at the same time. I'm glad you found a few who were willing to be educated!

gemfeller

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2017, 03:01:17 PM »

There are such things as boulder opal doublets -- I've seen some that were convincing and very difficult to separate from the real thing.  Someone had great patience and skill fitting the precious opal layer to the ironstone backing.

One of the worst mistakes I ever made was telling a customer her black opal was a doublet.  It was a layer of precious opal on black opal potch.  It *looked* like a doublet at first glance but it definitely qualified as a solid black opal.  I've since cut several stones very similar to it.  I wish I could take that moment back.

This isn't to forgive the ignorance of many retail jewelers when it comes to colored gems, especially opal.  I used to do the same thing in jewelry stores until I realized that sales ability, not gem knowledge, is the basic prerequisite for hiring store staff. 
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 05:02:37 PM »

Gemfeller - I was on the other side of your doublet story once. Jeweler/GG argued that a stone I had cut myself was a doublet. Even after I told him I cut it from the rough! Nice straight thin color bar - but natural as it could be.

Funniest thing I ever saw in a retail store was a sign advertising their "Genuine Lab Created Opal". I don't usually burst out in belly laughs in public, but did that day!

Bluetangclan

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2017, 07:47:08 PM »

Why would you ever aside from trickery reasons, back a boulder doublet with more soft ironstone as opposed to basalt or jade?

The expensive piece was either basalt or black jade and very poorly beveled. I am lost at why whoever made it would have put it in an open backed pendent. The boulder was in an open sided setting with prongs holding it in and was very obviously a doublet.
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gemfeller

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2017, 08:06:33 PM »

 Bluetangclan, I wasn't challenging your account of the boulder doublet. I was merely pointing out that boulder opal doublets do exist and are actively on the market.  I don't know where they're made, probably Asia, but the ones I saw were very well done.  They were shown to me by gemstone intarsia artist Jim Kauffman at his studio in Sedona, AZ some years back.
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55fossil

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 07:25:36 AM »

    Many people selling gemstones and jewelry only know what they have been told. The same is true on this site quite often. And yes, there are people who knowingly sell stones that are misrepresented and over priced. I laugh every time I see a well known seller stating his slabs are free of any cracks or pits. But the pictures obviously show cracks and pits in many pieces. Yep, he sells a story and is doing very well.

   Threads like this are great to show what goes on in the rock trade so others know what to look for. Some people are dishonest but many are just untrained and misinformed about what they are selling. Not an excuse, just how it is.
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Bluetangclan

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 12:19:58 PM »

No worries, Gemfeller. I wasnt coming after you, I was curious as to why someone would back a doublet with the same stone instead of a cheaper but harder stone like basalt. The value is already screwed by being a doublet in the first place.
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2017, 08:27:21 PM »

Would like to include my personal preference here for boulder doublet construction. In my opinion an ironstone backing is much nicer looking than a black back, and the ironstone is plenty tough enough to be used in jewelry. If it wasn't, no one would use boulder opal at all in jewelry.

gemfeller

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 09:12:13 PM »

The backing material that could be a problem is black opal potch.  Since many valuable solid black opal cabs have only a fairly thin layer of precious opal over black potch it's sometimes tricky to tell a natural from a doublet, especially in an open-backed setting: see postings above.  If such a doublet is bezel-set, that's a warning of a doublet but sometimes natural solids are bezeled to hide the potch portion. The ones to really watch are bezeled stones with closed backs if the stones are priced as solids.

I don't mind other black backings like basanite, black "onyx" or black jade because they're a sure sign of a doublet or triplet.  They don't pretend to be naturals and can be attractive.  I don't like black glass used as a backing because it's easy to chip during setting, but so are opal solids so I guess it's a toss-up. But I think more durable materials should be used for doublets.

There's lots of room for differing opinions, and I'm sure we'll see some.   

 
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2017, 06:54:08 AM »

Yep - black potch backings can be made to look very much like a solid. Robin did a commissioned piece at the request of a client once, and it did look good when done.

ileney

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 09:22:17 PM »

I bought a stone years ago that I think is a boulder doublet but I am still not completely sure to this day because if it is, it is extremely well done. May dig it out and post it at some point.
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BlackOpalShopDotCom

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2017, 06:32:49 AM »

In Australia when selling doublets to opal shops, the most popular backing is black potch.
We've cut thousands of doublets over the years and 95% of them were made with black potch backing. The other 5% was made with boulder ironstone backing (when we didn't have any good black potch on hand).
Most retailers (in Australia) prefer black potch (as this is natural and it is opal) as doublet backing. They don't like other materials like onyx or black glass.

I can relate to the solid black opal being labelled a doublet by jewelers (no offence) story. Also happened to me a few times when sold a solid black opal online and the customer in the States took it to the local jeweler to set it. The jeweler declared it a doublet and I was labelled a fraudster. It's not easy to prove your 'innocence' when dealing with people who have no knowledge of opals. Easiest way to identify a doublet is to look for a very fine 'gap' (like hair-width) between the two layers that have been adhered. You can even see without a magnifying glass if you have good eyes. Of course, with bezel settings you won't be able to tell if the opal is a solid or a doublet...
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Opal in jewelry stores, and hillarity(to me) follows
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2017, 07:43:38 AM »

Ohhhhh, she's a beauty alright! On ironstone, too. Nice to hear from someone at the heart of things, in Australia.

I'll also tell everyone here that this guy definitely has never been a "fraudster". I still have finished opals I bought from him years ago, and that's one of the reasons I started trying to learn to cut. I wanted to see if I could ever get a stone like those out of a piece of rough.

Well, I'm still trying... .
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