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Need advice on gorgeous ethiopian opal with crack

Hey guys, I need some advice. I bought an Ethiopian Opal from a guy
who I’ve bought many nice opals from before, and it is GORGEOUS "
one of the most beautiful opals I’ve seen " but once I got it in the
mail, I noticed it has a crack in the back. It’s not a big, honking
fissure " and you can’t tell anything from the front - but it’s a
definite crack that you can see at the surface under a 10x loupe. It
goes across a little over half the back and internally up the side.
I was planning at the time I bought it to use in a piece of jewelry
for me (because it’s so darn purty and I want something purty for ME
this time), so I wouldn’t be using it in anything to sell. But I’m
concerned about the long-term stability of this opal if I put it in
a piece of jewelry. I’ve never had any concerns about the stability
of the many non-cracked opals I’ve bought from this guy before.
Contrary to what others have said about Ethiopian opals, I’ve found
them to be stronger than the Australian ones I’ve worked with. I’ve
leaned many a cruel lesson by cracking my Aussies, but I have pretty
much abused the crap out of these Ethiopians and they’ve taken it. I
hammer set all of them, and I haven’t been delicate. And I’ve
accidentally dropped almost all of them on the floor multiple times.
Nothing. Hell, I even dropped one on my cement barn floor! (Yeah,
stupid.) After freaking out, I looked at it for nearly half an hour
under a loupe to find not even a scuff. These guys are tough. But
I’m still very concerned about this one.

When I questioned the guy, he said he thought the crack was clearly
visible the his pictures and videos of the opal (it just looked like
sharp color-plane changes in the pics/vids to me, like many opals
have), but that he should have clearly stated in the description
that it had a crack. He said the opal was cut a little over a year
ago and the crack hasn’t progressed any since, so he thinks it would
be stable in jewelry, but that he’d give me a full refund or a
replacement if it ended up cracking more. I told him my problem with
that would be that I make really complicated settings with other
stones, and that it would pretty much trash all the gold and the
work I did if I had to tear it apart to replace the opal. I want to
make this piece with the opal surrounded by a gold dragon, along
with a tsavorite and a mandarin garnet. It wouldn’t be easy to tear
that all up to replace the stone. He understood and said he’d look
for a replacement stone. He really has always been very much on the
up-and-up when I’ve dealt with him before. Sounds like everything’s
solved, so what’s the problem now? Well, I truly LOVE this darn
beautiful opal! It really is beautiful. Pictures don’t do it
justice. I want to have an opal that looks like this around my neck
in one of my over-the-top pieces! But I’m very concerned about that
crack. Any of you have experience with cracks like this in Ethiopian
opals? Can they have a year-old crack stay stable? I would greatly
appreciate any and all advice " pro or con for setting this opal "
from any of my fellow Orchidians.

Thank you guys for any help! El

Would Opticon stabilize it without changing the refraction? Maybe
somebody knows a way to stabilize it or strengthen it for setting.
Sounds like you should keep it for sure I have handled thousands of
opals and stones and there is rarely one I see that I cannot let go
so keep it and I bet someone here will have the answer.


I cut many of my own Welo Opals. I had one that was spectacular but
ended up with a crack like yours. I sat on the stone for six months
and the crack did not change. So. I set the stone in a somewhat
complex pendant and gaveit to my wife, never to be sold… It is
still the same after two years. If it is going to be yours, I say go
for it if you really love what the Opal does. If not, just return

I’m very happy to see how these new opals have steadily gone up in
value since they were first discovered.

Steve Wandt

Try easy flow superglue on the crack . if its for you you won’t have
to worry about an irate customer. I bought an Ethiopian opal 10
years ago repaired by superglue at a bargain price and it’s never
shown. It was one of the dark nodules and I kept it for me just in
case it still looks great.

Hi all

have you had that opal certified as an opal because from the picture
it looks like a man made opal.

There are so many “weird” stones out there now e. g. glass filled

all the best

Thank you guys for the advice on the opal! The seller ended up
offering to exchange the opal for just a little more in price for an
opal that I had originally looked at, but that was way too expensive
for me at first! I jumped at that. But I will keep in mind what you
guys said about the super glue and opticon for other opals in the
future if there’s a similar issue. And this crack really was too
small to get anything inside it.

And Steve, I’m glad to find a fellow Ethiopian opal admirer. I love
ALL opals, but these ones have really taken me in with their colors.
And like I said in the other post, they’ve taken way more abuse than
the Australian opals I’ve had. And most people find them
breathtaking. But I still find objections from other jewelers. I
made a really elaborate pendant in 18 and 22K gold with a nearly 9
carat honey Ethiopian opal in the center, surrounded by a gold snake
and tsavorite and mandarin garnets. Yeah, I love over-the-top. I
went to a respected local jeweler’s shop to see if he would sell it
for me. He loved the piece, said I did quality work, but acted like
the opal was nearly worthless because it was an Ethiopian. He said
he could only value the opal at what I paid for it. And what he
would sell the piece at, I would make no money because he of course
would have to take half. His taking half is fair because it’s his
store, but I think his valuation of the opal was way off. He said
that his valuation of the opal was in part because he knew nothing
of them, and he didn’t think anyone wanted to know about them and
that the market would never be there. He was a very talented,
old-school jeweler, but I think his idea about Ethiopian opals and
new stones is shortsighted. So here’s another question for you
guys… what do you think of that jeweler’s " and many others’ "
view on the value of Ethiopian opals and new gems in general? In
reality, all gems are just pretty stones " as gold is basically just
a shiny metal " and our value on them is completely and subjectively
fabricated in ours and the general public’s minds by all sorts of
factors that have nothing to do with human survival, including in a
large part to just clever marketing. Please feel free to move this
to another thread if needed. DISCUSS!

El, gingerly opening can o’ worms.

have you had that opal certified as an opal because from the
picture it looks like a man made opal.

I didn’t post a picture, so what are you talking about? But if
you’re talking about the one on my website, yeah, it’s real, and you
can easily tell in person, especially from the back. And I would
never set anything in gold unless I knew it was real. But I’m crap
with taking pictures of opals, so I’m just glad if I got any color
in the picture.

yes the opal is Ethiopian and I have another cut from the same stone.
what I did to cut it because of the reputation they have was "too
remove the saw and coat it with bur live and kept a spray bottle of
water, the wax and water gave a very fast smooth cut, also be sure
your saw Is not vibrating, that can cause a shear inside that is NOT
caused by the cut, as an opal cutter and designer I DO know what to
look for if fakes, the cutting operation was successful -so the
advice is there take it or leave it but this is the sister to the
round -how you can look at the stone and think it is a fake with soft
edges no shadows and a natural base is beyond be


if the Ethiopian opals came US or Australian GIA certified I would
be interested.

If not no way. Form reading on the net many are from wet mines.

All the best

I think it’s a lot to do about nothing. He offered to refund you.
Rocks do tend to have cracks and fissures and inclusions. I would
call it character and set it. Glue it or take the challenge of
setting it the way it is. Sounds like a beautiful gem. You should
link to some pics. If it breaks I’ll buy half if it’s that good


I have also cut and enjoyed quite a few of these. I do hope the
price does not go up too fast, as the rough is still pretty
affordable compared to Australian opal. As for stability, I had the
same experience as several others here. I like to use them in
intarsias and have had a couple of cracks show up. The cracks were
just visible and so far (after 6 months to a year) have not
expanded. Making an intarsia piece and then setting THAT is very
labor intensive and I am now holding off for a while to see how
stable the pieces i have already made will be.

As for market, I think it will depend on how it is handled from the
miners and distributors end. If they are smart, they will hold on to
the newly mined material, hydrate and dry it several times, and
remove the cracked material (maybe sell as chips or whatever, but at
least grade it). This would go a long way towards improving the
reputation of that material. Right now I am doing this myself to try
to ensure stability.

If the stability issue can be dealt with, the value should be
commensurate with the appearance (including cut) of the stone.
Australian opal had similar questions/doubts in the general market
when it was first introduced to the world.

ok I’m an old simple Marine, this person asked for help for cutting
a stone, help was given, and then this person insinuated a stone I
SET FOR SALE, was a fake I don’t know what experience you have with
opals, but that was one HELL of a misinformed insinuation, If you
want to see the stone the round in question was cut from go to
Howling At The Moon Custom Jewelry at faceBook, and to
straighten you out MY GEM IS NOT FOR SALE UN SET. I WAS NOT offering
to sell anything, I was offering a suggestion in hopes of helping and
Opal lover not a Stuck UP Snob

Elenore. just ignore the naysayers… Welo Opal is fantastic and
synthetic opal looks nothing at all like Welo Opal but does try to
imitate OZ opal patterns and colors.

OK, this may be a little OT, but looking at Richard’s photos of the
opal pieces, I suspect he may have taken these with a cell phone
camera. I have a similar problem with my cell phone, in that it
doesn’t seem capable of macro photos, but rather, always focuses on
the surroundings, rather than the item in the center.

I photograph my jewelry pieces with a compact digital camera, so
don’t have an issue there. But I’m often frustrated when trying to
take spur of the moment close ups of items when away from my studio.
I was wondering whether anyone has a hint on how to get good macro
photos with their own cell phone cameras? (For the record, I have an
iPhone 5s).

I’ve always wondered if those little macro lens accessories you can
buy for the iPhone do a good job. Has anyone tried one?

Tamara Culp

thank you Elenore, that person really needs to be aware that making
insinuations that are So misinformed could hurt someone’s reputation,
and That could result in legal problems, I have posted on FaceBook the mother stone that the round amber came from, and I have
Welo Opals that shine from across the room, so I am partial to them

Elenore. just ignore the naysayers.... Welo Opal is fantastic and
synthetic opal looks nothing at all like Welo Opal but does try to
imitate OZ opal patterns and colors. 

I am ignoring them. I know the opal is real. For one thing, check
this info out from this GIA article, from

Some natural opals, mostly from Ethiopia, show a macroscopic
finger-like structure called a digit pattern. This pattern
consists of vertical columns that are more or less parallel,
separated by a homogeneous matrix of different color,
transparency, or play-of-color. This study proposes that digits
develop through: (1) the deposition of a homogeneous opal layer
and subsequent polygonization in the form of vertical columns;
(2) preferential alteration of this layer at the vertical grain
and sub-grain boundaries, creating the digit shape; (3)
precipitation of a new silica gel in the space between the
digits; and (4) the drying and solidification of the opal.
*Although polygonization in the form of vertical columns is a
growth process typical of synthetic opal, the post-growth
alteration of these columns into digits and the deposition of
matrix are observed only in natural opal.*"I starred the most
relevant part. And...

The presence of a matrix between the columns may therefore be
the first step in identifying a natural opal.

The opal in question has honeycomb/digit pattern with matrix between
the columns. It’s the real deal. El

Try using a loupe for macro pictures. Just hold it up to the camera
on your phone and take a picture. Not the best in the world but I’ve
gotten some pretty good shots. Have fun.

in the amber I see much more cracking, so I use that to my advantage
with some, by helping direct the crack and end up with 2 very similar
opals for earing, or addons to pendants that grab the eye, improvise,
adapt, overcome, lol sometimes tho this fails and then u use the
pieces in inlays, you take a real chance with raw natural opals so
roll the dice, I win more than lose with these gems, just hate
toothpicks for dob sticks, lol