how to identify common opal

Have you ever come across a shiny, iridescent stone and wondered if you have stumbled upon a treasure? You may have found a common opal without being aware of it. Opals have enchanted humanity for millennia with their kaleidoscope of colors and mesmerizing patterns. The common opal, though less glamorous than its fiery counterparts, is no less captivating or valuable. This article will show you how to identify common opal, ensuring you never overlook one of these hidden gems again.

Before we dig into the identify aspect, let's establish what is common opal. As the name suggests, common opal, also known as 'potch', is one of the most common types of opals. Unlike precious opals, common opals do not have a 'play-of-color'—the spectacular interplay of colors seen on precious opals. Common opals may still be attractive, displaying a nice colour. However there is no Play-Of-Colour. 

One thing to be aware of is that common is often part of a precious solid opal. And it is actually a combination of precious opal and common opal. For example the opal may have a natural layer of black potch (common opal) under the precious opal!  

Common opal used to be called Noble Opal. As opposed to the present meaning, the term "noble" was used to denote opals with play-of-color. Over time, as the understanding and classification of opals evolved, what was once considered noble is now termed as common opal.

Firstly, one of the most distinguishing characteristics of a common opal is its non-iridescent nature. Unlike precious opals, which are known for their vibrant display of color, common opals are often a single color, from black to grey; pure white to vibrant shades of red, blue, and green.

Another key factor in how to identify common opal is the opacity. Common opals are usually opaque or slightly translucent. You might be able to see a bit of light pass through them if you hold them against a strong light, but generally, they won't be as translucent as glass.

Keep in mind that the surface of common opals does not display the phenomenon known as "play of colour." This is the process where silica spheres replace the original structure of a rock or a fossil, creating a peculiar color spectacles - another characteristic setting common opals apart from precious ones.

When it comes to value it all comes down to the play-of-colour. Common opal varieties like Pink opal and Blue opal do have value but at a fraction when compared to precious opal. 

Finally, if in doubt, if it sparkles it is precious opal if there are no sparkles then it is common opal. But inspect the common opal carefully by wetting the opal and looking at it under sunlight for any sign of precious opal inside. .

Knowing how to identify common opal is an interesting and valuable skill, whether you're a gem enthusiast, a jewellery lover, or a treasure hunter, so keep this guide handy! With this information at your disposal, you can confidently discern the common opal and ensure that you never accidentally throw away a beautiful gem. Happy opal hunting!