Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Opal doublets

Has anyone used opal doublets in rings, and how durable have they
proved to be? I love the colors, but the fire layer on some of these
is very thin- Anne

Hi again, Anne;

This thought just occurred to me. I suppose you are using doublets
because they are affordable and quite a bit more durable than full
stone opals. Have you considered the “Gilson” synthetic opals?
They’re quite nice, in their own way. And they’re rugged enough that
you can actually cast them in place (this needs more extensive
explanation, I’m sure). They cost a bit more than most doublets, I
think, but they’re an option when working with a customer that wants
the look but not at the price. Rio Grande sells them, but I’d bet
there are other sources as well.

2 cents more from David L. Huffman

Opal doublets, as they are glued together are usually not a good idea
for rings. Added to the already fragile nature of opal you are just
looking for trouble. Pins, pendants and earrings are all safer

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

IMHO, (and I realize there will be disagreement), triplets are the
only thing to use in rings. Reason? Because (at least if you’re as
clumsy as I am), rings get a good bit of knocking against things and
general beating about. You need that quartz cap on top for protection.
Since a doublet will be no less (or more) subject to possible
breakage than a solid, I would not use either a doublet or a solid!
in a ring. —Unless you can somehow build in really good protection
in your setting, in which case a doublet should be quite satisfactory.
I have not yet tried a doublet in a ring. Cheers! Margaret

Hi Anne;

I’ve set a couple in rings. I’ve even tried the “mosaic” opal
doublets. The quartz top is quite durable, so they wear well. I set
them in 14K bezels, fairly heavy metal around them without problems.
Just make sure they are seated well. You might even epoxy them down,
just to make sure they don’t rock in the seat as you’re pushing metal
around them. Take care not to put them in pickle or leave them in
the ultrasonic cleaner too long. I’ve not had any de-laminate, but
if anything were to go wrong, that would most likely be the problem.
Fortunately, they aren’t terribly expensive. Good luck.

David L. Huffman

Hello Ann,

As far as I know about it are they not to bad when they have a cab
made out of quartz (people told me).I’m not one of those who feel
much for this kind of opal,but I’ve been in Idaho and this was the
type of opal that you found over there.Now, the cab itself is in
anyway much durable then the opal itself,that’s for sure.The value of
those opals are not high at all,but some people like the fire more
then the opal or the value of that opal.

Setting those opals is easyer then setting a real opal as real ones
tend to brake or crack.So in this context,triplets and toublets ar
easy to handel stones.

Maybe that other jewellers have an other opinion about it,but I stick
with the unbeatable pure and adorable opals.

Regards Pedro

Daniel - are natural Boulder opals strong enough to be used for
rings? Since there is no glue, as with doublets. Gini

Speaking of opal doublets, does anyone know where I can locate
settings for 9mmx11mm oval --you guessed it–opal doublets?
Seriously, I need to make 8 pair of earrings from stones client
already owns. My first step will be to find a few replacements in
case I need 'em. The opal owner has more faith in me than I do.
Bezel or prongs? Someone please get me started. I’ve only done one
opal triplet in an omega slide. I can’t believe that it took me three
days to realize that our Orchid List is absolutely the best place
for help! Thanks Heaps. Joyce

Anne, I have made opal doublets that have been in rings for years and
they are no different than solid opals in durability. There is a lot
to consider when making doublets. Without getting into the entire
process, suffice it to say that the fire layer of a doublet should be
somewhat thicker than that used in a triplet in which there is a base,
the layer of opal and a cap…usually quartz. In a doublet, the dark
base is used primarily to improve the color (read - fire) and to add
some strength to an otherwise weak seam of color. If the doublet was
properly mated and glued with its base the two are basically one and
the same. The stone should be set with the same “protection” in mind
as when setting a solid opal. Cheers, Don at The Charles Belle Studio
where simple elegance IS fine jewelry!

Hi Everyone,

I make lots of opal doublets and triplets. While I am not an expert I
can give you some idea of what to do and what not to do. I have
noticed many of you are talking about setting the doublets with the
clear Quartz cap on them. These are not doublets in most cases these
are triplets. A true doublet has some type of black or maybe a piece
of iron stone glued to the back of a thin slice of opal. This type of
opal should be treated like a solid opal. The top of this stone is
subject to scratching and chipping. It should be bezel set to protect
the stone. If you set these with prongs you are just asking for
customer complaints. I do set pendants with decorative prongs but
they do not actually hold the stone in place the bezel does that. The
triplets with the Quartz caps may be set just like any other solid
cabochon. Of course most of the cheap imported triplets don’t use
quartz they use cheap glass. But you get what you pay for. After you
have the item done remember not to use ultrasonic cleaners or strong
solvents. The only thing holding these stones together is epoxy glue
and in the cheaper stones it is most likely superglue. Long time
emersion even in water wil loosen these glues and once again you have
an upset customer. My advice is to try and get the customer to go for
just a little more money and use a solid opal. After all your time
and the gold cost more than most of the stones you are using in a
lower cost item. The customer will be much happier in the long run
and wil come back to you for a high priced item someday. I hope I
didn’t bore you too much. If you have any questions about opals
please feel free to email me and I will try to answer them.


   I've set a couple in rings.  I've even tried the "mosaic" opal
doublets.  The quartz top is quite durable, so they wear well.  

May I please point out that if you have a quartz top on your 'opal’
it certainly is not a doublet, but - only - a triplet.

Doublets consists of an opal top and a glass/obsidian/black quartz
back, while triplets consists of a quartz or glass top, a thin layer
of opal, and a back of glass/obsidian/black quartz.

Niels Lovschal, Jyllinge, Denmark
phone (+45) 46 78 89 94

joyce & gini -

one of the reasons opals were given a bad reputation was their
cracking. the usual cause of cracking: opals are made up of about 4%
to 24% water (that’s thought to be part of their play of color). when
opals are prong set they are held in place with a certain amount of
pressure, whether it’s continual pressure from the prongs or an
inadvertent blow to one of the prongs. as the water dries out
something has to give & it’s the infrastructure of the stone.

bezel setting is the only method i use for all the opals i cut/carve,
polish & set into rings, pendants, earrings. as to glue, 'yes, gini,
there is a place for glue in setting opals: before finally setting
the opal into the bezel i squeeze a dab of E6000 in it & then fit in
the stone. after the glue has dried i then roll over the bezel. the
glue does 2 things: it gives a buffer material to absorb normal
buffeting & it holds the opal perfectly during bezel rolling (to say
nothing of insurance against loss). i use this method on every stone
from the freeform lightning ridge stones to the 2" by 1"
no-surface-matrix perfect boulder opal i set into a pendant & have
never had any broken stones - even on the rings i wear while doing
everything including setting up & striking my show tent.

good luck -

Opal Doublets…wow…alot of opinions, and for Opals alot of
"unreasonable fear"…DUBLETS: there are flat ones, thin layers,
high ones thick layers, thich domes thin bottoms, good glues and bad
glues, new ones and old ones, factory made and handmade, black opal on
black opal gem ones, mosaic ones, even ones with quartz covers…many
look fantastic…and can be used in ANY kind of jewelry, bottom line
with our designers is to design around the stone…design for the
wearer…don’t assume anything…just look at ALL the Pearl Rings that
are made, and worn by all kinds of people…opals can take just as
much or more abuse…we have made THOUSANDS of doublets rings for men
and women…the only ones we seem to fix are the mass produced
openly exposed veneer thin opal with onyx mens rings, and ones
literally abused by the owner…like construction site workers should
not be wearing ANY rings let alone an opal…OH and Giniroll ??
about Natural Boulders…in our opinion they are very strong, make
great jewelry, BUT large expensive ( $ 5,000+) pieces with very thin
color layers should not be prong set or bezel set in large openly
exposed rings…always GLUE them into a protective design…in our
opinion…Thanks to all the great opinions and we get
from orchid !!

Jeff Thomson
President - Opals International Jewelers, Inc. online since 1994

Hello all there,

I’ve been reading all those articles about opal beeing soft,brittle
and not beeing a good idea for rings.I think those who love or like
doublets or triplets are missing the idea of making jewelry (without
beeing impollite).This estatement really makes me wonder for the next

Lots of jewelry is made out of 18 or 22 Kt gold which is quiet soft.

Pearls are really soft (2.4 up to 4.5) and yet lot of jewelry is made
out of this wonderful organic material.Ammolite is the same dificult
stone and what about corals and amber ???

Talking about brittleness,how brilttle is Emeralds,Kunzite,Lapis
Abalone shell,Cordierite know as Iolite and so on ???

As far as I can make an judgement about opals,it all relys on the
quality of the opal itself and the cutter.If they are cut to thin,
then this stone would be classified as a lower quality stone.If the
cutter knows what he’s doing then you will have an nice domed bottom
which prevend you from cracking during the setting.The stone would
have enough “body” making it strong to withstand the pressure needed
for a SAVE setting(not forcing!!).Jewellers tend to add to much
pressure in order to set the stone and then … opal are a pain.

I’ve seen hunderds even dousends of rings with opal and made self
some of them with good solid material and they still show their
beautyness and colorfire … WITHOUT A CAP !!

My wife has a very nice white multicolor opal ring for more then
seven years now and I do not want to be that opal if I knew what kind
of jobs she performs with here ring.But still,that opal is not
scratched or broken and not dull at all!On the other hand,i do not
like facetted mexican fire opal because they are extremely brittle to
me and this is the exception on this rule.

To close this subject on opals,I like to mention that opals need the
support (backing of the stone)and the know-how from us “jewellers” on
how to handle them and most of all how to set and carry opals. About
Gilson created opal,would you preffer a nice lady as your wife or
would you go for a man who lookes like a lady (for the male jewellers
amongst us)and paying for the same mariage ???

Regards Pedro

I think you may be mistaken, Niels. An opal doublet is an opal with a
cap OR a base. A triplet has both.


I set quite a number of opal doublets for one customer, primarily in
rings. You will need to bezel set these. The main problem with
setting opal doublets is the edges are usually very thin so never
force the stone into a bezel, it is likely to chip the edge. Fit the
stone so that it goes into the bezel smoothly and sits flat. They
usually have a flat top so I make the bezel about 1mm higher then the
top of the stone. I never glue my stones down for a couple of reasons;
I often make an open back and I also want to be able to remove the
stone easily if the ring later needs to be sized. I also tend to make
a thick bezel (18-20ga) and use a hammer and punch to set it. This
makes a nice thick protective ring around the stone. I use sterling as
opposed to fine silver for added protection. This technique has worked
for me but I would practice on a few less perfect stones first.

Good luck!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry

Generally speaking we don’t advise anyone to wear opal rings,
although we sell them all the time. They are such beautiful stones
that no one can really resist them. When we do sell them though, they
go out with all kinds of warnings and we refuse to guarantee them.
Boulder opals, which are basically the only type of opal we sell, are
a little bit tougher than the white opals it seems. The issue with
glue in the doublets and triplets is that when exposed to excessive
water, soaps, detergents, cleaning agents, etc, the bond seems to
break down.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

I’m jumping in a little late so I hope I’m not being repititious
here. The reason that opal doublets and triplets are so abundant is
due to the nature of the material itself. Opal likes to grow in very
thin seams, and without a backing it simply wouldn’t be possible to
cut much of it. A dark backing material also allows us to see the
play of color much easier, and makes it a more vibrant stone. I do
prefer a solid stone, but I’d be missing a lot by disregarding
doublets and triplets.

I definitely agree that a quartz-capped triplet would be a better
ring choice given how soft opal is, and it should be firmly and
securely set. A word of caution, though: exposure to water may,
over the long term, compromise the integrity of the adhesive bond -
recommend removing the ring when swimming, showering, etc. kara

Ive, I’m glad to find someone else who uses glue as an assist when
setting opals. Many “purests” have chided me for doing the same thing.
When I used to do a lot of repair people constantly brought in opal
rings made in SE Asia in which the opals had cracked or chipped. The
reason? Poorly matched bearing to the stones, not to mention pronging
in which only the tip of the prong touched the stone.

I have used glue for years to provide a perfect stone/bearing
fit…not much…just enough to ensure even contact all the way
around. Never lost a stone since using that technique.

I also use it when setting black coral in ear rings and pendants. I
don’t set the coral in rings as it is too soft. I use it in the other
items because it is difficult for the bezel to “grip” the slippery
surface of the coral.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio where simple elegance IS
fine jewelry!

We ALWAYS tell our customers and give them a “jewelry care” statement
indicating that unless it is diamonds, do not put in anything liquid.