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Crystal Opal, A Curious Galaxy of Colors

Opal has long been widely known for its play-of-color, with the most famous variety being the black opal specimens that arise from Lightning Ridge in Australia. Flashes of different colors come alive in the best examples of this fine gemstone, however with all the different variants of opal circulating around, not everyone is familiar with one of its most curious forms.

Crystal opal can be whitish or blackish, or somewhere in between. It's sometimes called water opal or jelly opal and tends to transmit more light through its body compared to other varieties. Crystal opal can have similar standard play-of-color, but some specimens exhibit a display of spectral hues as light travels through the crystal mass itself. We call these stones contra-luz opals.

Andamooka in South Australia is one of the major producers of crystal opal and other varieties. Australia's dry and arid desert lands provided the ideal place for precious opal to form. The country is very famous for its opal deposits, and also produces another popular gem- blue sapphire, in certain parts of its territory.

Crystal opal's vivid play-of-color has been likened to the beauty of galaxies and kaleidoscopes. They say an opal displaying the full range of color can cost significantly more than those that show only the most common hues (blue or green). Red is the most desired hue for most people. Large patches of flashing color are also more in demand than patterns of spots and specks (pinfire), although the beauty of the phenomenon also lies in its diversity of arrangements and visual appeals.
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