Dragon's breath opal

I recently purchased this fascinating stone and would like to know
whether it is natural or man made. It is vivid orange, usually, with
brilliant flashes of purple, sometimes rippling across the face of
what looks like an inclusion within the stone, at least in the one I
have. The jewelry these stones are set in is most often labeled as
vintage or antique, and the stone commonly has names such as mexican
fire opal, jelly opal, or dragon’s breath opal. I can’t find any
conclusive answers anywhere regarding it’s actual composition.
Anybody out there have any? Here is a link to photos of this stone:

You can email me at Studio (at) blackwatersiren.com


Yep, its real…and natural…Mexican opal is just a different
variety of opal. I have seen opaque yellow and semi-transparent blue
opals with no fire at all. They are still opals. The blue ones are
really cool. If you stick them in a glass of water overnight, they
become almost completely translucent. Doesn’t last though.Opals have
a wide range think Chinese vs boulder vs yowah.

Lisa,(Packing my booth for the shows…ick), Topanga, CA USA

Thanks for the great picture. This is a glass cabochon. Sometimes
they put gold leaf or some type of foil in the glass. Other times
they use a glass with an opal type look. The picture does not look
like Fire opal or Jelly opal. You can have it tested for sure but
the picture is great and does not indicate opal of any kind. I have
seen this material many times before and even did some testing on it
when I went to GIA.

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions please feel
free to contact our technical support department.

Best regards,
Phillip Scott G.G.

Technical Support & Sales
Rio Grande
1-800-545-6566 ext 13752

It’s often hard to tell from a single photo from one perspective,
but my money is on it being a “Mexican Fire Opal”.

Jelly Opal rarely has such a vibrant orange hue to it


This is a glass cabochon 

Eep…I guess I had better defer to Philip…I thought it was a
lousy picture and so went by the name you had given… Mexican opal.
It was probably my lousy computer or my lousy eyes and not the
picture. So sorry. But hey…there are Mexican Opals I just traded
someone for a few beauties in return for setting a few more in some
rose gold for her…

Lisa,( Made green chile stew tonight…yum.) Topanga, CA USA

Hi Christen,

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but “Dragon’s Breath Opals”, like
the creatures for which it is named, are about as genuine and natural
as the plastic resins and iridescent purple celluloid films from
which they are usually cast. Although I’ve seen some Victoria Stone
(another imitation of opal, this one made of glass) cabs that
approached the appearance of this stuff, the ‘original’ – and, hey,
let’s not be fooled by imitations – “Dragon’s Breath Opals” seemed
to appear in costume jewelry sometime in the mid-1970’s, around the
time when both Kingman Turquoise and those Yowah Nut-like
matrix-and-jelly cabs of Mexican Fire Opal were all the rage. As is
unfortunately so often the case, these “gems” are still sold to
unsuspecting jewelry buyers as “genuine Dragon’s Breath Opals” by
unscrupulous dealers at gem and crafts shows and flea markets, right
alongside the supposedly natural "Mount Saint Helens Glasses (a.k.a.
“Obsidianite”) and other such gemological frauds. I hope that
whomever sold you yours didn’t take too much of your hard-earned
change, in the process.

By the same token, both Fire and Jelly Opals are genuine gems, found
on at least three continents (in the western and southern US, Mexico,
Brazil and, of course, Australia). The term “fire” in Fire Opal,
refers to the “fire” and “glowing coal-like” colors of the material,
not the play of spectral colors so often seen in Precious Opal. Hope
this helps!

Douglas Turet, G.J.,
Turet Design
P.O. Box 242
Avon, MA 02322-0242

This is a glass cabochon. 

This occurred to me, too-- looks more like dichroic glass than opal.
If you look at it with a microscope or a strong loup, if it is
glass, you should see bubbles. They will be either round (a dead
giveaway) or elongated.

If you have a copy of the January issue of Art Jewelry Magazine, it
contains photos of inclusions in opal simulants, taken by our own
James S. Duncan, G.G.