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Delve with me into the magnificent world of opals. These are truly magical stones that can flash every colour of the spectrum with a brilliance approaching that of diamond. But let's take a step back and answer the burning question: what are the different types of opal colors?


The first category of opal we are going to talk about is the white opal. White opals, as the name implies, have a light body color, typically white or cream. Subtle yet striking, these opals are often admired for their versatility. They may be coloured with soft hues of almost every shade in the colour wheel, but are primarily pastel.


Then we have black opals. These opals are exceptionally unique, and they are known for their color play against a dark body tone. This type provides one of the most spectacular examples of opal color, particularly "Black opal red". An exuberant flare of red gushing out of the ethereal black makes it sought after and fairly rare.


Within the black opal category, there is a subset called crystal opals. Despite the name, they can be either black crystal or white crystal, the defining factor being a level of translucency that allows light to pierce the stone's heart, creating an incredible depth of colour.


Another type of opal is the boulder opal. They are usually found embedded in large boulders, hence the name. Boulder opals have a mix of earthy tones with vivid splashes of opal colour, creating a beautiful contrast. One can actually see the rock background against which these colours shine, ranging from a light brown to a very dark brown rock. 


The fascinating visual marvel known as the “play-of-colour” is the signature characteristic of precious opals. Play of colour refers to the shifting colours that move and change as the opal is viewed from different angles. The spectral delight dances across the stone's surface, giving the appearance of multiple colours in the same stone.


Imagine a vibrant "Pink play of colour". It seems like an animated watercolour splash that moves captivates, and entrances as light strikes from varying angles. Now, that's a sight to behold!


Among these "plays of colour," you can find every imaginable colour and hue. From the deepest blues and greens to the warm reds, oranges, and yellows, enriched by ripples of violet, indigo, and everything in between.


The play of colour seen in opals is a result of millions of tiny silica spheres diffusing light and reflecting it back out to your eyes. The size and arrangement of these spheres determine the colour witnessed.


Large spheres will reflect back red wavelengths of light, hence producing opals with a red play of colour. On the other hand, smaller spheres return the violet wavelengths, creating opals with a blue or violet play of colour.


It’s crucial to understand that the play of colour in an opal largely depends on the base shade of the opal, also known as its tone. If you think of it in terms of a watercolour painting, even if the paint colour is the same, the tone of the canvas underneath affects the colour we perceive.


Similarly, in opals, the tone influences how we perceive the play of colour. White opals, with their light body tone, give off a more muted or pastel play of colour because the light is not getting absorbed but is rather being reflected off the stone.


In comparison, the play of colour in black opals can appear significantly more vibrant due to the black background absorbing most of the light. The end result is a rich, saturated play of colour that is unabashedly dramatic and stunning.


We get every colour in opal, but the key is understanding that the shading under the play of colour does this. The tone of the opal manipulates how we perceive the play of colour, playing a vital role in determining the overall appearance and impact of an opal’s colour.


The value of an opal is primarily based on brightness, then pattern then based on its color. Reds and oranges are generally considered the most valuable, followed by green, blue, and violet. This consideration holds regardless of the base body colour.


Now that we've explored the wonderful world of opal colours, I hope you have a greater appreciation for these wondrous creations of nature. With every hue and tone telling a unique tale, opals are undoubtedly a fascinating and colourful gemstone like no other!


So, whether you're selecting an opal for its significance, symbolism, or simply the sheer love of its aesthetic, understanding what imparts each opal with its unique spectacle of colours would certainly add a depth of appreciation to your gemstone experience.