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What are Opal Doublets and Triplets?

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Opals are complicated gemstones. When purchasing opal jewelry there are numerous factors to consider, such as the color of the opal, the fire, the pattern, the size, the transparency… the list goes on and on, so we’ve singled out this one factor to talk about today – the construction of the opal piece used in the jewelry – specifically whether it’s a solid piece, a doublet or a triplet.

Unlike the other quality factors, this element is not always readily visible, though it’s very important you are aware of the differences when purchasing an opal engagement ring or jewelry. A solid opal is just what it sounds like. Doublets and triplets are techniques used in the creation of opal jewelry that maximizes the visible opal while using as little of the actual stone as necessary, therefore reducing cost.

Learn about opal doublets and triplets | The Alchemy Bench

What is an Opal Doublet?

Opal doublet metaphor time! Pretend you are on a boat. Visualize an iceberg. You can see the beautiful glittering chunk floating above the water but you know there is a much larger piece submerged and hidden from view. This entire iceberg is the opal. Now imagine sawing off the submerged portion of the iceberg and replacing it with a big piece of plastic. From the boat you really can’t see a difference, but if you knew the truth, you may think a little differently about that iceberg.

Basing your choice on aesthetics alone, there is not a huge difference in appearance between solid opal and opal doublets. Doublets are formed by taking a thin slice of opal and gluing it to a black backing, which brings out the color of the opal. Solid opal sometimes has a natural dark potch backing as well, depending on whether this material was left intact as the stone was cut from the earth. Because only a thin slice of opal is used, in order to get a rounded ‘cabochon’ look the edges of the opal slice have to be rounded off. This is not always possible if the opal is too thin, so generally the very domed opals you may see are not doublets; they are either solid opals or triplets (see below).

What is an Opal Triplet?

Opal triplets take the idea of a doublet one step further, hence the name. A triplet is a doublet with a clear domed plastic, glass, or quartz cap. Only a paper-thin slice of opal is used for triplets so they are less valuable than even a doublet. Unlike doublets, you can easily tell a triplet from a solid opal if you look close enough. Due to the clear cap, the opal will take on a glassy look from the top and if you view it from the side, you’ll be able to see where the opal meets the cap.

One of the biggest practical differences between a solid opal and an opal doublet or triplet is the value. Solid opals are much rarer and more valuable, particularly if it is of good quality. If you are hoping for your jewelry to become an heirloom piece, or see it as an investment, or simply enjoy the high quality of fine jewelry, then a solid opal is a great choice. Opal doublets and triplets are alternatives if you want the beauty of opal without the price that it commands.

Handmade Diamond and Opal Engagement Rings | The Alchemy Bench

What Does The Alchemy Bench Sell?

Our Kabana engagement rings and wedding bands are never made from opal doublets or triplets. In fact, Kabana states that their opal inlay is four times thicker than most of the opal inlay on the market, meaning your jewelry will contain that much more opal (you get the whole iceberg!). They also have assured us that they do not enhance the opal’s color in any way. All of Kabana’s Australian Crystal Opals are completely natural and exquisitely beautiful.

As with any stone treatment or imitation gem, it’s up to you to decide whether it is something you wish to purchase. We only urge you to learn about gemstone qualities and jewelry techniques so that you can be an educated consumer. Happy jewelry hunting!

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