How To Tell If An Opal Is Real? Fake And Real Examples

Last Updated on December 19, 2021

Eagerly awaiting the loading screen to check off your purchase, you question whether or not the opal you are about to buy could be a fake considering the amount of fakes there are out there. 

Differences between Fake Opal and Real Opal

Fake Opal

Real Opal

  • Can magnify when a paper with words is placed underneath it
  • Is perfectly clean without dirt specs 
  • The pattern is perfect 
  • The pattern repeats the exact same way throughout the opal
  • The colors are really vibrant despite the opal being really cheap
  • The website says it was “Lab Made” 
  • And more…
  • Cannot magnify 
  • The pattern varies 
  • The product has a few tiny specs of dirt in it
  • The product description states it came from a country of which was logical for the specific type of opal to come from. 
  • Etc. 

The following will be an in depth overview of how to tell whether or not your opal, being regular, white or black, is real or not: 

How to tell if your opal is real?

If your opal has the exact same pattern throughout the gemstone, it’s very likely that it is a fake. Opals do not naturally create a perfect pattern. The same goes for if the opal is perfectly clean. Most opals do not come out of the ground without at least one or two specs of dirt inside of them. 

Tightly fitted patterns are also a good indication of your opal being fake. It’s far too rare for a perfect opal to exist. The flakes can be the same but the sizes of the flakes should vary. 

An exception to this rule are the Ethiopian opals that are often clean, bright and have a repeating pattern. The colors of this opal will appear to float throughout the inside of the opal rather than just on the outside. 

A fake opal might not have a pattern on the inside of the rock, leading one’s eyes to believe the pattern is only on the outside. If you can see patterns inside of the rock as well, your opal should be real. 

Real opals may also have a needle indent / type included. An indent made during the process of shipping them out, to check the stone’s quality and properties. A fake stone would not require a needle check and would subsequently not have this indent. 

If you look at an opal from the side and the pattern seems to suddenly become linear, this is unantual and likely a lab created. 

If the stone is mostly clear, place it above a piece of paper with writing. A real opal will not magnify the image. If the image/ writing is magnified, the opal is fake and likely made of glass.

How to tell if white opal is real?

White based opals do not typically have consistent patterns. The white envelopes the stone marvelously, and thus, when you shine light through it you can move it around and watch and the two seemingly entangle. 

When you look at these opals from the side, it’s likely there will be a layer of potch on the back of the stone. This is also a natural element of a white opal’s apparence. This layer may also have a little dirt in it. 

Fake white opals do not have potch or dirt within them. Synthetic opals may register as being real opals but more often than not, they are still easy to spot as a result of the properties used to create them. Plastic or glass white opals may also have a glue split in between the rock, which is unnatural. 

How to tell if black opal is real?

Indications of the authenticity of a black opal are similar to the methods used in consideration of white and other natural opals. Genuinely black opals should be untreated. They should have varying patterns as well as potch or dirt within the gemstone. 

Other opals can be real opals and then be treated / dyed black. These can be real Ethiopian opals that have been dyed or treated to look like natural black opals. THese are considered to be fake black opals in the jewelry industry. These would come up as real opals in a testing facility, whilst still not being genuinely black opals. 

Synthetic opals are tricky because when taken to a testing facility, they can still register as real opals. 

Fake black opals are also prevalent. They can be made of plastic or glass, and are created in labs. If you were to check these opals, they would show as being fake gemstones. 

How to test whether or not a black opal is real

Light: 

  • Shine a light through the stone. If the stone shines brown and a tiny cluster of dirt or rock inside of it, it is real. 
  • A dyed stone may appear red, without a cluster inside of it and generally spotting dye streaks. 

Immersion Testing (do this for no more than 5 minutes):

  • By placing the stones into a solution, you can inspect the rocks properly. Turning the stones on their backs, you can see whether or not there is a cluster or “matrix” inside of the rock. 
  • A fake / dyed rock will seem spotty or like there are clumps. Smoked crystals may burn around the rock cluster inside of the opal. There will be a line around it. 

UV LIGHT:

  • UV light will remain within the opal after the UV has been shined on them. There should be a chalk-like fluorescent overtop of the opals. The dyed opals will not, and will most likely not even shine lighter at all; only around the opal, reflecting the UV light rather than allowing it to shine through. 

There are also other methods of discovering whether or not your opal is real, however, those would netail seeking professional help. 

Feel free to get in contact with a gemologist or even send your opal to a lab, as they would be able to test the product with the most efficient / accurate answer. 

Always Consider the Following 

If your opal was relatively cheap, don’t get too excited over that deal. It is only until the forty dollar mark hits that opals get cut / shaped properly or are sold with a certain amount of color. So if you got a hold of a stone for five dollars that has a lot of color and shape, it’s a safe bet the stone is not real. 

If you are purchasing opal for spiritual reasons, be sure that the shop you are going to has people who seem to care about the products. If the workers don’t know where the gems come from dont know what the stone is supposed to “represent” and so forth, it’s safe to say the stones are either fake or not worth it. 

Finally, you should check where the opal says it is from when shopping online. More often than not, real opals will say exactly what country they are shipped from, grown in. Otherwise,you may find yourself scrolling for a while until you find that the description states that it was “Lab-Made”. Real opals do not come from labs, point, blank, period. If the description does not state where it is from, this is not only sketchy but surely an indication of a fake opal. Do your research on the company or look through public reviews prior to making a purchase.

Eran Hayo is the Chief Editor of Jewels Advisor, with over 5 years of experience in the fields of jewelry and memorabilia. He built Jewels Advisor to serve one main purpose – to teach you everything he knows about jewelry, and help you make better-informed decisions when buying diamonds and engagement rings online. His work has been cited on famous publications such as The Sun, MSN and WikiHow.