shape
carat
color
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Welo opal virgin...Could use some advice, please.

Adam95

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I have quite a few smaller Lightning Ridge and Coober Pedy opals in my collection, but I want something big and bright, so it looks like I will have to go Ethiopian to stay within my budget.

I would like some feedback on these 3 opals that I'm considering.

The 1st is from opalgalaxyaustralia on Etsy.
1620442835369.png

It is nice and bright, but I don't love the shape/pattern (prefer smaller flashes), and I was really hoping for something over 10 carats.

I have found with opal there is a risk of the pics being misleading, so the fact that returns are on a "case-by-case basis" has me apprehensive, especially, since the pics/vids are under super bright lights.The seller does have good feedback, though.

The 2nd stone. I'm looking at is this one by Royal gemstones on Gem Rock Auctions.
1620442914358.png

I really like the pattern and the size... It is huge at 22 CT, but definitely doesn't seem as bright as the others and the seller has a few negative feedback comments. Return policy seems fair. I think I will have to ask for more pictures/videos because it is very hard to tell with the current ones provided.

The 3rd and my favorite one is by corgems also on Gem Rock Auctions.
1620443024648.png
The stone seems super bright and has that really awesome 3D effect because it is transparent (I think they call them crystal opals?). The shape and pattern are also perfect, but it is being offered as a no reserve auction, and I have never tried that before.

The seller provided an absolute crapload of pictures and video footage under a bunch of different lighting conditions. Also, the return policy is by far the best: 60 days with free return shipping and no restocking fee. The seller has 100% positive feedback, too.

Basically, I'm looking for your opinions on these 3 stones, and would love to see any other options. My budget is about $1,500.

I also wanted your general advice on buying Ethiopian opals because I'm unfamiliar. I have heard that they have started smoking some to make them look like Australian black opals and that clarity enhancement has become common; any advice on the subject would help? Also, I have read that Ethiopian opals are hydrophanes, meaning they lose their color if they are soaked in water; does this affect day-to-day durability?
 

jordyonbass

Brilliant_Rock
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Due to being trade myself, I can't comment on the Opals you've shown.

What I can say is that the smoking treatment is not something you need to worry about with these Opals as their body tones are still light, going towards crystal so that's an indicator that these Opals haven't been smoked.
When it comes to the hydrophane properties, I would obviously want to try avoid a Welo that suffers badly from this. The issue is that the water content within the Opal fluctuates as it's exposed to water and then dries out again. This constant fluctuation can lead to things like crazing, Black Opal from Lightning Ridge tends to have the lowest water content of all Opal and is most stable.
 

fredflintstone

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Jul 18, 2020
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Due to being trade myself, I can't comment on the Opals you've shown.

What I can say is that the smoking treatment is not something you need to worry about with these Opals as their body tones are still light, going towards crystal so that's an indicator that these Opals haven't been smoked.
When it comes to the hydrophane properties, I would obviously want to try avoid a Welo that suffers badly from this. The issue is that the water content within the Opal fluctuates as it's exposed to water and then dries out again. This constant fluctuation can lead to things like crazing, Black Opal from Lightning Ridge tends to have the lowest water content of all Opal and is most stable.

I'm sorry Jordy, but I disagree with Welo Opal absorbing water and crazing. It just does not happen 99.5% of the time. With Shewa Opal from Ethiopia yes. Then you have Stayish mine Opal from the Wollo province that is non-hydrophane.

Proof of Welo Opal's stability is how many are treated with smoke/heat on the market. If these Opals were to crack/craze that would be when.

Welo Opal is also tougher than Aussie Opal. It is much more resistant to chipping. You can drop a Welo Opal from a height of 6 feet on to a hard surface and it will not break (the GIA did this) but Aussie Opal will break constantly from that height. Sure, you can have the occasional Welo Opal that might break or chip, but rule of thumb is they will not. I myself back in the day dropped clumsily many a Welo Opal and only one chipped. Lucky for me.
 

Adam95

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Messages
158
Due to being trade myself, I can't comment on the Opals you've shown.

What I can say is that the smoking treatment is not something you need to worry about with these Opals as their body tones are still light, going towards crystal so that's an indicator that these Opals haven't been smoked.
When it comes to the hydrophane properties, I would obviously want to try avoid a Welo that suffers badly from this. The issue is that the water content within the Opal fluctuates as it's exposed to water and then dries out again. This constant fluctuation can lead to things like crazing, Black Opal from Lightning Ridge tends to have the lowest water content of all Opal and is most stable.

Thanks for your expertise, Jordy. I am leaning towards the cor gems opal, but the fact that it is already at 1200 bucks would several days to go and my budget is a hard 1500, it might be out of my control.

I honestly think of Australian and Ethiopian opal as 2 separate gems because I love them for entirely different reasons. I'm afraid I don't know enough to contribute productively to this debate, but the greatest and most interesting crystals come from Ethiopia and a perfect pitch black lightning Ridge is like nothing else on this earth.

An interesting discussion regardless. Fred, do you have a link to that GIA research? Sounds like a great read, and I can't find it online. @fredflintstone @jordyonbass
 

2Neezers

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I’m drawn to #2, but it could be because it’s been photographed on a black background which will show the color play better than a neutral background. Have you checked out opalauctions.com ? Several of us have purchased from that site and they have alot to choose from at pretty great prices. Moriarty’s at moregems.com would also be worth checking out.
 

Adam95

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Messages
158
@fredflintstone
I’m drawn to #2, but it could be because it’s been photographed on a black background which will show the color play better than a neutral background. Have you checked out opalauctions.com ? Several of us have purchased from that site and they have alot to choose from at pretty great prices. Moriarty’s at moregems.com would also be worth checking out.

The black background is misleading. Color pops much more against black. i.e., black opal 1st light opal.

I asked them for additional pics and I'm definitely hesitant because there are a couple of comments about misleading pics.

Moriarty's good stuff is really good, but out of my budget. He also uses dark backgrounds, and it's tough to get how his opals would look normally. Also, his shapes are very abstract and not my cup of tea.

I might just bid on the cor gems stone; I'm just really drawn to the transparency of it because the flashes look like they float within the stone.

It's hard to explain, but I think you can tell what I mean better from the video.
1620503398976.png
Mo was also helpful and got me a bunch of extra pics and videos, but I will absolutely take your awesome advice and see if I can find anything comparable on opalauctions (preferably that won't take 10 more auction days+shipping; I'm impatient! :lol::lol-2:).
 

Mekp

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Messages
390
I can't comment on the opals, but I have purchased several stones from cor gems and they are wonderful to buy from.
 

Adam95

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I can't comment on the opals, but I have purchased several stones from cor gems and they are wonderful to buy from.

I believe it about them being a good seller. Super helpful so far… With rapid replies to my inquiries...Sometimes messaging back within the minute! it's actually kinda freaky!

Opals are definitely more of a niche in the gem world. Even my own interest in them waxes and wanes, but right now I have intense opal mania and I need a nice welo!
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Messages
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I would not look at opals on a dark background. The colorplay and base color are more saturated against a dark background. Although Welo can be durable, you should avoid soap, chemicals, and other liquids that might absorb in the stone. It could affect the colorplay.

I prefer Welo with deep orange or blue base, and for the prices suggested, I think you can do better.
 

bright&shiny

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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Messages
637
I bought a beautiful Welo opal from Fine Faceted Gems & Cabs auctions on FB. It is beautiful and has more color than those posted so far…. I’ve purchased a few other stone there and have had a great experience.
 

Adam95

Shiny_Rock
Joined
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Messages
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I would not look at opals on a dark background. The colorplay and base color are more saturated against a dark background. Although Welo can be durable, you should avoid soap, chemicals, and other liquids that might absorb in the stone. It could affect the colorplay.

I prefer Welo with deep orange or blue base, and for the prices suggested, I think you can do better.

I'm ruling out the Etsy stone because it is too small and because the dark background pictures are likely misleading and giving the 22 CT seller a chance to provide me with some pictures against a neutral background.

The cor gems stone actually has a really nice yellow base that rocks of the transparency. You can see it here in the video. And then at this part, in dim light, the base seems to change to blue.

1620507975416.png
1620508012453.png
Objectively, you're totally right that I can do better but there's just something about the stone that has me fixated.

Please share if you find something at a similar price that has the same appeal.

Of course, there's always that option of paying almost 1400 bucks for a 2/10 opal with the legend himself Mr.Skyjems! He's using a dark background and it still looks awful! :lol-2:

1620508281156.png
 

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fredflintstone

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Best article ever written about Ethiopian Opal. This is mandatory reading for anyone interested in Ethiopian Opal whether it be Shewa, Welo or Stayish mine Opal.

Page 15

Ethiopian Opals:

"Facts, Fears and Fairytales"

It is in PDF form and you will have to download it and scroll down for the aritcle.


 
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Adam95

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Messages
158
Thank you so much, @fredflintstone for the interesting read. I'll go through it thoroughly when I have a chance, but this is what I was really looking for:

"Although there have been some reports of cracking as a result of repeated hydration and drying of Welo material, Stone Group Laboratories conducted rigorous testing and reports: “When many stones were immersed and then left to dry repeatedly (12 times), there was no cracking or change from their original appearance."

So, Fred, you're definitely right about that exaggerated cracking risk.

However, @jordyonbass , your concerns regarding durability are indeed valid as well because:

"The hydrophane characteristic does cause concerns for consumers who unwittingly allow their hydrophane opals to come into contact with liquids other than pure water. In the author’s experience, oils of any type, perspiration included, can permanently reduce or even eliminate the beautiful play-of-color. "

Luckily, I won't even be setting the stone. I would just be enjoying it as a collector's piece to marvel at, so I don't think that's a huge concern for me, but definitely about concerns for someone was to do the dishes or likes to wear jewelry while swimming.

I definitely wasn't aware that avoiding water was a real concern, but now I am, so thank you both for the enlightenment.

I'm also shocked that this came out of Slovakia…

1620512898342.png If
 

fredflintstone

Shiny_Rock
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Messages
343
Thank you so much, @fredflintstone for the interesting read. I'll go through it thoroughly when I have a chance, but this is what I was really looking for:

"Although there have been some reports of cracking as a result of repeated hydration and drying of Welo material, Stone Group Laboratories conducted rigorous testing and reports: “When many stones were immersed and then left to dry repeatedly (12 times), there was no cracking or change from their original appearance."

So, Fred, you're definitely right about that exaggerated cracking risk.

However, @jordyonbass , your concerns regarding durability are indeed valid as well because:

"The hydrophane characteristic does cause concerns for consumers who unwittingly allow their hydrophane opals to come into contact with liquids other than pure water. In the author’s experience, oils of any type, perspiration included, can permanently reduce or even eliminate the beautiful play-of-color. "

Luckily, I won't even be setting the stone. I would just be enjoying it as a collector's piece to marvel at, so I don't think that's a huge concern for me, but definitely about concerns for someone was to do the dishes or likes to wear jewelry while swimming.

I definitely wasn't aware that avoiding water was a real concern, but now I am, so thank you both for the enlightenment.

I'm also shocked that this came out of Slovakia…

1620512898342.png If

I have had a Welo Opal ring for years. No problem. When I was wholesaling, we sold 1000's. I will tell you what to do if you get soap, oil, condiments when eating, or anything else on it. Run it under hot water for about 30 seconds or until subtance is rinsed off. Then dry thoroughly with clean towel. Repeat two more times. Problem fixed.

It takes Welo Opal hours to fully absorb liquid. Let alone thick more viscous liquids. Get wet and dry it off as soon as it happens, and you will have an Opal you can enjoy for a lifetime as long as you use care.

Concern over this is overrated, as long as you are aware of it and know what to do.
 

Adam95

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Joined
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Messages
158
I have had a Welo Opal ring for years. No problem. When I was wholesaling, we sold 1000's. I will tell you what to do if you get soap, oil, condiments when eating, or anything else on it. Run it under hot water for about 30 seconds. Then dry thoroughly with clean towel. Repeat two more times. Problem fixed.



It takes Welo Opal hours to fully absorb liquid. Let alone thick more viscous liquids. Get wet & dry it of as soon as it happens, and you will have an Opal you can enjoy for a lifetime as long as you use care.

Yeah, what I understood from the paper was that there were a few specimens with especially high water absorption that were susceptible to water damage, but I doubt those would've been fine gem quality anyway
 

fredflintstone

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Yeah, what I understood from the paper was that there were a few specimens with especially high water absorption that were susceptible to water damage, but I doubt those would've been fine gem quality anyway

The typical Welo Opal absorbs up to 5% its weight of water. Some as high as 15%. Either way, not a problem. Some do not absorb at all or only about 1%.

There is so much misinformation out there about Welo Opal it is ludicrous. Most of it on purpose from dealers who sale other Opal.
 

fredflintstone

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 18, 2020
Messages
343
Yeah, what I understood from the paper was that there were a few specimens with especially high water absorption that were susceptible to water damage, but I doubt those would've been fine gem quality anyway

The thing is the Shewa material found in the early 90's was highly unstable. It could fall a part in your hands. Welo is a totally different animal. That stigma with Shewa has cast a long shadow on Welo, and as I said, the Stayish mine Welo Opal is non hydrophane. It produces natural black and dark crystal, kind of a gray smoky semi-black. Also, some clear Opal. All of it is crystal.
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Jan 22, 2014
Messages
5,303
Not an expert but a lover of Opals. I have both Australian opal and Welo opal.
Welo Opals are most similiar to Australian Crystal opal. They are a translucent gem.
Welo Opals have 3 body tone colours yellowish, blueish and dark/black. A black Welo opal is sight to behold.
Welo Opals are what I call watery, the colours float within.
Welo Opals look magnificent under bright lights, under low lighting conditions the colours are very muted.
Any type of Opal requires care if set as a ring or in a bracelet. They are soft so will become abraided over time. Not suited for everyday wear.
Here is my Almond Blossom ring with a Welo Opal alongside my Australian Opal (semi crystal) ring. 1BBF4259-0A11-42E5-B58D-9D12E076DA49.jpeg DAD5FCC2-D063-4A66-88BB-6B6910D42044.jpeg
 
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Adam95

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Messages
158
Not an expert but a lover of Opals. I have both Australian opal and Welo opal.
Welo Opals are most similiar to Australian Crystal opal. They are a translucent gem.
Welo Opals have 3 body tone colours yellowish, blueish and dark/black. A black Welo opal is sight to behold.
Welo Opals are what I call watery, the colours float within.
Welo Opals look magnificent under bright lights, under low lighting conditions the colours are very muted.
Any type of Opal requires care if set as a ring or in a bracelet. They are soft so will become abraided over time. Not suited for everyday wear.

Thanks! It would just be sitting in my safe for me to occasionally take out the backyard and living room to appreciate, so don't worry about wear-and-tear here

Totally agree about your assessment about the great unique attributes of both Australian and Ethiopian opals
 

bright&shiny

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 11, 2009
Messages
637
Not an expert but a lover of Opals. I have both Australian opal and Welo opal.
Welo Opals are most similiar to Australian Crystal opal. They are a translucent gem.
Welo Opals have 3 body tone colours yellowish, blueish and dark/black. A black Welo opal is sight to behold.
Welo Opals are what I call watery, the colours float within.
Welo Opals look magnificent under bright lights, under low lighting conditions the colours are very muted.
Any type of Opal requires care if set as a ring or in a bracelet. They are soft so will become abraided over time. Not suited for everyday wear.
Here is my Almond Blossom ring with a Welo Opal alongside my Australian Opal (semi crystal) ring. 1BBF4259-0A11-42E5-B58D-9D12E076DA49.jpeg DAD5FCC2-D063-4A66-88BB-6B6910D42044.jpeg

Love, love, love your rings!
 

fredflintstone

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Joined
Jul 18, 2020
Messages
343
Not an expert but a lover of Opals. I have both Australian opal and Welo opal.
Welo Opals are most similiar to Australian Crystal opal. They are a translucent gem.
Welo Opals have 3 body tone colours yellowish, blueish and dark/black. A black Welo opal is sight to behold.
Welo Opals are what I call watery, the colours float within.
Welo Opals look magnificent under bright lights, under low lighting conditions the colours are very muted.
Any type of Opal requires care if set as a ring or in a bracelet. They are soft so will become abraided over time. Not suited for everyday wear.
Here is my Almond Blossom ring with a Welo Opal alongside my Australian Opal (semi crystal) ring. 1BBF4259-0A11-42E5-B58D-9D12E076DA49.jpeg DAD5FCC2-D063-4A66-88BB-6B6910D42044.jpeg
I hate to keep disagreeing with you, but Welo Opals comes in water clear transparent crystal, hazy transparent crystal, milky white crystal, smokey gray crystal, orangish brown crystal, black crystal. They do not come in bluish crystal. What you are seeing there is the bluish fire color shade the crystal a bluish color, but the crystal itself is not blue. You can dye Welo Opal blue and other colors though.


Welo Opal can be neon bright under low light. It depends on the quality of the Welo Opal, but if you are looking at it under diffused light, like a cloudy day, then yes, the colors will be muted as with any Opal. Welo Opal and Stayish mine Opal are by far in top quality the brightest most colorful crystal Opal in any light. After seeing 1000's I can attest to this. No Australian crystal Opal since the early Andamooka days can compare to the best Welo/Stayish mine Opal. It is the best crystal Opal in the world today.
 
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Adam95

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Messages
158
Not an expert but a lover of Opals. I have both Australian opal and Welo opal.
Welo Opals are most similiar to Australian Crystal opal. They are a translucent gem.
Welo Opals have 3 body tone colours yellowish, blueish and dark/black. A black Welo opal is sight to behold.
Welo Opals are what I call watery, the colours float within.
Welo Opals look magnificent under bright lights, under low lighting conditions the colours are very muted.
Any type of Opal requires care if set as a ring or in a bracelet. They are soft so will become abraided over time. Not suited for everyday wear.
Here is my Almond Blossom ring with a Welo Opal alongside my Australian Opal (semi crystal) ring. 1BBF4259-0A11-42E5-B58D-9D12E076DA49.jpeg DAD5FCC2-D063-4A66-88BB-6B6910D42044.jpeg

Gorgeous! I've never seen one like the one on the right before!
 

CHRISTY-DANIELLE

Brilliant_Rock
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Jul 10, 2017
Messages
1,932
New to opals myself, but I've been looking at this shop on Etsy. He gets rave reviews on his opals and has a 14 day return policy. His prices are good too. Here's one I just found in his shop. 18ct crystal welo. Screenshot_20210509-201632_DuckDuckGo.jpg

And a video of a grey based welo that fascinates me. So pretty!(same seller)
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 20, 2008
Messages
23,898
I think welo opal is beautiful but I have four issues about it that I just wanted to mention. People can feel free to disagree.

1) if in a piece of jewelry, you cannot clean it with soap, or other cleaner, only water. Otherwise the chemicals can leach in the stone.

2). If worn frequently, it can lose its polish, which at least happened to me.

3). The pattern only seems to play on the surface of the gem, and if you like 3D color play, as in other crystal opal, that might be an issue. That’s my experience with it. Perhaps other people have 3D color play in the Welos they’ve seen.

4). It kind of has the luster of plastic. Again, I’m unsure this is true of all Welos, but I’ve seen many at gem shows as well as in person at Moriarty Gems.

There are many wonderful things about Welos, affordability, variety, colorplay, etc... but I just wanted to mention those issues. I still own several Welos, and I find them a great value next to their Aussie counterparts, but I still prefer top quality Australian crystal opal.
 

Adam95

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Joined
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Messages
158

New to opals myself, but I've been looking at this shop on Etsy. He gets rave reviews on his opals and has a 14 day return policy. His prices are good too. Here's one I just found in his shop. 18ct crystal welo. Screenshot_20210509-201632_DuckDuckGo.jpg

And a video of a grey based welo that fascinates me. So pretty!(same seller)

@T L Thanks for the advice! I have plenty of aussie opal already including LR, CP and Andamooka, and this will be my first welo piece.


@CHRISTY-DANIELLE That harlequin is stunning! I will definitely check them out.
 

fredflintstone

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 18, 2020
Messages
343
I think welo opal is beautiful but I have four issues about it that I just wanted to mention. People can feel free to disagree.

1) if in a piece of jewelry, you cannot clean it with soap, or other cleaner, only water. Otherwise the chemicals can leach in the stone.

2). If worn frequently, it can lose its polish, which at least happened to me.

3). The pattern only seems to play on the surface of the gem, and if you like 3D color play, as in other crystal opal, that might be an issue. That’s my experience with it. Perhaps other people have 3D color play in the Welos they’ve seen.

4). It kind of has the luster of plastic. Again, I’m unsure this is true of all Welos, but I’ve seen many at gem shows as well as in person at Moriarty Gems.

There are many wonderful things about Welos, affordability, variety, colorplay, etc... but I just wanted to mention those issues. I still own several Welos, and I find them a great value next to their Aussie counterparts, but I still prefer top quality Australian crystal opal.

1. Yes, you can use water if you have grime in the mount in your jewelry, but otherwise as far as the Opal goes if the ring, pendant, what have you is clean, just a soft cloth will do the trick to clean the Opal. If you get other liquids, oils, lotions, condiments on your Opal, just rinse in warm or hot water 30 seconds then dry with soft, clean cloth and repeat two or three times. No problem, your Opal will be fine. But you should do this right after it happens. The longer you wait, the more chance the Opal will absorb the substance, but it just won’t sink in on contact. It takes time. Still best to rinse and wipe dry as soon as possible.

2. This is true with any stone depending on how much you wear it and how careful you are. Aussie Opals will lose polish just as quick if banged around. Opal is relatively soft – 5.5 - 6.5 hardness. Welo Opal is generally much tougher than Aussie Opal. Stones of this hardiness will lose polish faster than 7 hardiness or more stones. But again, it is how you treat your Opal.

3. This is not true in many cases. Welo Opal can have great 3-D. Most did that I use to sale. The top specimens were spellbinding in their 3-D and color play. Any Opal can be one dimensional. The more transparent the crystal the better the 3-D, if it has strong color play.

4. Yes, some do have a plastic (resinous) like luster. Others look nothing like plastic in their luster and are vitreous in luster. Again, it depends on the quality of the stone. The more porous ones will be more plastic like. These are generally the stone that will absorb the most water. Their SG will be slightly less.
 
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