Lab Created Opal : Colourful & Iridescent
Photo Credit: Broken River Mining
The opal is one of the most unique gemstones of them all with a distinctly colourful and iridescent shine. In Indian mythology, the Goddess of the Rainbow was turned into an opal, and Arabic legends say opals fall from the heavens in flashes of lightning. With deeply mystical ties, cultures all over the world have cherished this kaleidoscopic stone for its symbolism of hope, innocence, and purity.
But, as you well know, getting your hands on a high-quality precious opal is difficult.
Natural precious opals — the opals with the most colourful and iridescent qualities — are incredibly rare and hard to come by. But, the lab-grown market is also just as difficult to navigate, with resellers and manufacturers flooding the market with ordinary opals and opals that vary in grade, quality and price.
If you get stuck with lab-grown opal that doesn’t have the right clarity, hues and play-of-colour, you can’t bring your designs to life. Worse, poor-quality stones can completely discredit the reputation you worked so hard to build.
So if you want reliable access to top-quality opals and to lead the market with luxury, sustainable jewellery, you’re going to want to learn about how BIRON®’s lab-grown stones can transform your business.
The BIRON® Difference
Photo Credit: Inter-pacific
Upon first glance at a BIRON® lab-grown opal, all you will notice is its incredible play-of-colour.
But behind that gem is a laboratory that uses silica to replicate the exact same chemical composition of a natural opal with extra hardness.
Your current customers will love gaining access to such high-quality, sustainable opals.
And you can now attract new customers who increasingly value ethically sourced and sustainable stones.
Available in an extraordinary range of colours, our rainbow precious opals will impress your customers.
Backed by 35-years of experience in gemstones sourcing, we are trusted by clients all over the world for both our gemstone and business integrity — inspecting each and every stone before delivery so that you can stay true to your art and fulfil your orders.
Make Your Jewels Stand Out
Photo Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald
With its unique play-of-colour, the opal makes some of the best statement piece jewellery. One of the world’s most famous examples of such is “The Queen’s Opal”, given to Queen Elizabeth by the Australians during her Coronation tour.
Weighing an incredible 203-carats, the opal was set in an ornate, 18k palladium necklace with diamonds. Suffice to say, this necklace makes quite the statement with or without the adornments. Just imagine the bold, beautiful designs you could create yourself.
Need some more inspiration?
The opal is the birthstone for the month of October, and is also given as a 14th wedding anniversary present. It goes well with brilliant white diamonds.
Partnering with BIRON®, you can now secure the premium, lab-grown gems that your new, discerning and eco-conscious customer craves for every occasion.
Get in touch with our specialists today to learn more about how BIRON® can transform your business.
The More Popular Lab-Grown Opal Cuts
I was in awe!
The cut, colour, clarity and brilliance … are no different than the pricier ones at the fine jewellery boutiques at ifc mall.
More About Lab Created Opal
What is an opal?
An opal is a non-crystalline gemstone made up of the mineral hydrated silica. Opals can be transparent to opaque with a waxy or iridescent lustre and multiple colours in a kaleidoscopic display. It comes in many varieties and ranges of colours and is often used in jewellery despite its low wearability.
Opal is the birthstone for the month of October and was first commercially produced in Australia in 1890. History shows that it was believed that opals fell from the sky during thunderstorms and contained lightning.
Australia is the primary source for Opals which are made up of 20% trapped water in a silica structure. It can display the colours of the rainbow and have different levels of clarity, from translucent to opaque. To retain as much colour play within and weight of a natural opal, fine ones are often cut into irregular shapes. Opals have low density and medium hardness for durability.
Opal mine cave diving. Photo Credit: Martin Steimska
What are lab-grown opals?
Photo credit: BBC SCIENCE FOCUS MAGAZINE
Created opal is grown in a controlled environment in a laboratory that replicates the same amorphous display, meaning not having a defined crystalline structure. The chemical composition remains the same as that of its natural counterpart. Specially formulated processes can make lab-grown opals with a rainbow play of colour that can be almost fluorescent. Artificial opals are real and unmined, so are eco-friendly and humane.
Natural opals are found in the earth and mined. They are formed without control over conditions and contain different impurities that express different final results in colour, translucency and shape. Their range of colours and patterns can vastly vary.
Synthetic opal with polymer impregnated is also lab-created but at the final stage, instead of using silica to fill up the gaps between the spheres, polymer (of up to about 20% of the stone) will be used instead.
The appearance is quite the same but hardness is reduced by the use of polymer.
What are the benefits of created opals?
Synthetic opals created in a lab have the ability to capture the colour-play opal is known for to varying degrees. It is ideal for sourcers and suppliers to meet the demand of retailers and jewellery brands, designers and can easily be cut into cabochons, beads or other shapes.
Cultured opals follow the same play-of-colour and quality of natural opals with the same chemical composition, except for water content, which is zero in the case of created opals and which means fewer chances of cracks over time and even gemologists can have difficulty telling them apart. Costing a fraction of the price, manufactured opals can be cut to any size, shape and colourway. It is popular as a decorative material that goes beyond its uses in jewellery.
While reducing carbon footprint and humanely made without being mined, lab-made opals can continue to be the muse of creative designers. Black opals, considered one of the rarest gemstones, can be made for wholesalers and suppliers for more consistent sale.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
How are artificial opals made?
Photo Credit: Inter-Pacific
Artificial opals are made in a laboratory through sedimentation using a three-step process developed by Pierre Gilson in 1970. Microscopic spheres of silica are created through precipitation, followed by dehydrating for over 1 year.
The final step involves impregnating the gaps between the spheres with silica to create the opal’s play-of-colour without distorting the arrangement.
FAQs on Lab Made Opal
Are lab-grown opals real?
Yes. Man-made opals that are grown in a laboratory are made up of the same chemical composition as their natural counterpart, which includes a mineral called hydrated silica. This gives the gemstone its lustre and play-on-colour appeal that shifts from iridescent to waxy, to fluorescent. Lab-grown opals are real and unmined and have the same optics and physical form as natural opals.
Are lab-created opals valuable?
Yes. Lab-grown opals are valued for their ability to capture the unique play-of-colours for which opal is known. Opals made in a lab can be of larger carat weights to be cut and shaped into any look and size.
Synthetic gemstones created through man-made processes can be 100% consistent with naturally-mined gemstones. These gemstones hold a high-quality finish and achieve better durability due to zero water content at a fraction of the price and have strong roots in eco-sustainability and humanitarianism.
Are lab opals as durable as mined opals?
Yes. Lab opals hold the same or better durability as that of their natural counterpart. Their chemical compositions and other properties are identical but with zero water content, lab-grown opals are less likely to crack like natural opals.
What are the differences between lab, natural, imitation opals and synthetic opals impregnated with polymer?
Man-made opals are real gemstones that hold identical chemical composition, optical and physical characteristics as natural opals. They are real but unmined, can have little to no inclusions and are shaped from lab-made uncut gemstones.
Natural opals grow in the earth naturally and are mined. They are found in the rough and have inclusions or visual variations and different colour-play due to the gemstone’s unpredictable growth process and mineral composition. Unique natural gemstones are available for sale, on our platform.
Simulated opals, also known as imitation, are not the same as lab-grown opals, due to their difference in composition. They are physically and chemically different, constituted of man-made material that can be of artificial or natural origin. They can replicate the gemstone’s colour-play, low density, and medium hardness, so look like natural or lab-grown opals, e.g. Slocum stone.
Imitation opal is not often commercially produced as it is hard to imitate the play of colour. One may however use an oyster shell to make a look-alike opal.
Synthetic opal with polymer impregnated is also lab-created but at the final stage, instead of using silica to fill up the gaps between the spheres, the polymer may be used instead. Appearance is the same but hardness is reduced.
How can we help you?
Whether you wish to create your first ethical and sustainable jewellery brand or enrich your current collections, we are here to help.