Opal Simulants: How to Spot Imitation Opal
How can you be sure that a piece of opal for sale is genuine? Learn about the major types of opal simulants and how to distinguish them from the real deal.
5 Minute Read
What are Opal Simulants?
Opal simulants are materials that simulate, or look like, opal. Unlike synthetic opal, opal simulants have different chemical and physical properties, making them easier to distinguish from mined opals if you have the right instruments.
Because many different materials can be used as opal simulants, it's often useful to measure the gem's specific gravity and refractive index. However, with enough experience, you'll be able to distinguish most simulants using only your eyes and a loupe.
Take a look at this video, where experts talk about opal synthetics, simulants, and treatments and show examples of each.
Is it Unethical to Sell Opal Simulants?
As long as merchants disclose that what they're selling are lookalikes, materials created or presented to imitate genuine opals, there is nothing unethical about selling opal simulants. Imitations can still make beautiful jewelry stones, and some may even have more wearability than actual opals. However, customers should be told the truth about what they're buying.
Lab-Made Opal Simulants
Most opal simulants are synthetic materials formed from a reflective material in a matrix of glass, plastic, or resin. Some can appear quite...
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison’s interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth’s geological processes began in her elementary school’s environmental club. When she isn’t writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
Opal Stones and Gems: Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Gemstone Doublets, Triplets, and Other Assembled Stones
Tips for Cabbing and Carving Opals
An Interview with Opal Expert Joel Ragan
Why are Topaz and Citrine Gemstones Misidentified?
Identifying Garnets Simplified
Staurolite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Amethyst Buying Guide
When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.
Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!