Opal Patterns

About the Different Opal Patterns

There are several different opal patterns. Each one is both distinct yet completely unique. Below is a list of some of the most well known and highly sought after patterns. 

Cathedral Window

Cathedral window is one of the rarer opal patterns. It only occurs in Queensland boulder opals. Flashes of colourful, bright precious opal shine through panes in the ironstone, just like a stained glass window in a church.

Chinese Writing

Chinese writing pattern is typically found in high quality black and crystal opal. Originally called "straw" or "chaff" pattern by opal miners, it was only recently renamed by native speakers of the language who noticed a resemblance to Chinese characters on the surfaces of the stones. Opals with a Chinese writing pattern are highly sought after, not just for their beauty, but the added specialness of having a letter or phrase emblazoned across the stone in bright, neon fire.



Harlequin is one of the most desired opal patterns, due to its scarcity. It was named for its repeating diamond and square shapes, which mimics the print on a medieval Harlequin's costume. Harlequin pattern occurs mostly on black opals from Lightning Ridge, and may be valued at thousands of dollars apiece.