Sell with a Story October 2020

Sell With a Story: Black Opal

handful of black opal
Photo by Vincent Pardieu/GIA.

A sunset, tropical waters, watercolor paintings, Holi color clouds, the galaxy. You might be asking, “What do these have in common?”

If you have ever seen an opal, you likely already know. Considered one of the most colorful stones available within the industry, opals show many colors all in one wearable stone.

All About Black Opal

Moody and mysterious, black opals are fitting for an October birthstone. They have a dark body color with a gorgeous play of color that spans the spectrum. The benefit to a dark body color is that the colors pop off the darker background and scream at people to look at them.

Notable Gems Black Opal

The rarest and most valuable type of opal —  black opals —  are found at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia. No one really knows where Lightning Ridge got its name; however, allegedly a farmer, his trusty four-legged companion, and his flock of sheep were struck by lightning, aiding in the ridge getting its name.

Perhaps that’s fitting. Lightning Ridge black opals can be as dark as midnight with a play of color that’s akin to a night sky lit by bright flashes of lightning.

Technically Speaking

Opals have some technical words that are associated with them and them alone:

  • Play of color: The flashes of color you get when you rock and tilt the stone. This phenomenon is created by the internal structure interacting with light.
  • Body color: The background color, the palette in which all the colorful flashes lie.

At Stuller, we grade our calibrated gemstones based on the darkness of the body color. Gray body color will be graded as AA quality whereas a dark gray or black body results in AAA quality.

Calibrated Opal

Each black opal in Stuller Notable Gems™ is hand selected to represent the best features or a quality that’s unique to that stone, whether that’s body color, pattern, shape, or something else.

What Makes an Opal Valuable?

All other things equal, the play of color and the stone’s pattern determine an opal’s value.

Play of Color

A vibrant red opal has a more expensive price tag as it’s incredibly rare. The more red visible when you tilt and turn the stone, the more expensive the opal. Follow the spectrum backward for values: blue, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is the most common and therefore the least valuable; yellow, in the middle, is valued as such.

Play of color that is visible from one angle or only on part of the surface drops the value of the stone. The play of color should be spread across the whole stone, even if it changes in pattern type.

Notable Gems Opal


It seems strange to think that the pattern of colors on a stone would aid in the value that it holds. However, when you think about it in terms of rarity, it makes more sense. There are three major types of patterns that hold sway on value, each represented by a corresponding look and rarity factor:

  • Pinfire: Very small patches or dots of spectral color.
  • Flash: Large areas of play of color.
  • Harlequin: Large, distinct, usually angular patches of play of color with touching edges.

Harlequin is quite rare, especially when you get a full range of colors, which makes it considerably more valuable. Pinfire is very common, making it less rare and therefore less valuable — even when the pinfire play of color is red.

Opals for October

The extraordinary shapes and unique ability to match and highlight any color makes black opal a go-to for designers wanting to create one-of-a-kind jewelry. The dark palette and eye-catching explosion of color make black opal a customer favorite for those keenly aware of the attention they will get — social media, here they come.

Notable Gems Black Opal

Try having a few loose in your store this month (it is the October birthstone, after all!), and it’s sure to lead to conversations about what black opals are, where they come from, and how customers can add one to their wish list.

At the very least, you get to have a lively, gemstone-positive conversation that can open the door for future questions. And your customers will think of you as the gemstone expert!

Happy selling!

Shop our selection of calibrated black opal cabochons, or discover a unique black opal in Stuller Notable Gems™

Chatham Lab Grown Opals Blog Header

Win Over Your Customers with Chatham Lab-Grown Opals

Looking for something to offer that will instantly revive any wardrobe for the summer season? Look no further than Chatham Lab-Grown Opals.


Chatham Lab Grown Opals Social Share

With so many options these days, customers are looking for something special and unique. Opals are the perfect opportunity to offer both.

Growing Chatham Lab-Grown Opals

Chatham has been growing opals since the early 2000s. It is the only gemstone they grow through a process of sedimentation. The other gemstone varieties are formed through intense heat and pressure, whereas opals form through colloidal chemistry. It’s also the longest process of all Chatham gemstones, taking about two years to form.

During this process, tiny silica spheres diffracting light cause the play-of-color that makes this gemstone so attractive. In Chatham lab-grown opals, the arrangement of the spheres appears as a mosaic pattern under magnification. The larger the spheres, the more colors visible.

Chatham Lab-Grown White Opal

Chatham’s lab-grown white opals display an ethereal green, blue, and pink iridescent color range on a semi-translucent-to-opaque surface. The oval cabochon is the most commonly cut opal shape, but Stuller also stocks calibrated square and round cabochon shapes, too.

Because of its soft and magical nature, Chatham’s lab-grown white opals are exactly what an outfit needs to complete any ensemble. It’s no wonder we see more and more opals worn on the red carpet as large statement earrings, necklaces, or rings. Their versatility is an added advantage! White opals’ minimalist factor and airy flair also make for lovable layered looks.

Chatham Lab-Grown Opals Gemstone Shot

Gift Ideas

Did you know opal is the October birthstone and 14th-anniversary gemstone? If you’re looking for other reasons to offer up an opal, consider these: Opal is the gemstone of hope and optimism. It is widely used for meditation and is believed to be the stone of luck. Because of its mysticism and colorful feature, is an ideal gift for the imaginative artist!

Caring for your Opals

Opals are softer than many other gems. It contains water and may be subject to cracking or crazing and should require great care when worn. However, because of Chatham’s Lifetime Warranty, your customer can wear it with confidence knowing Chatham lab-grown opals are guaranteed for life!

A Brief Opal History

Opals name stems from the ancient Greek opallios, meaning “color change.” Across the globe, countless cultures attribute opal with mystical powers. In fact, ancient Greeks believed opals granted the gift of prophecy. Some jewelry superstitions even speculate it is unlucky for those not born in October to wear opal.

Chatham Lab-Grown Opals Gemstone Shot

Shop Chatham Lab-Grown Opals on

Looking for more about Chatham? Learn more about their top quality lab-created gemstones here.