Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Opal setting question


Opals are wonderful, but are sometimes “loosing” color when they are
placed directly on silver or gold. What is being used in the
industry to enhance the color of the white opals when they are being
set directly on metal? Is there some sort of epoxy being used in
black, behind the stone to better show off the fire of the natural
stone? Or is there some other material that someone might suggest to
make the opal show more of the fire. The opals that I am talking
about are always sold while being displayed on a black plastic
background. Thanks. Beth Katz


As long as you disclose to the ultimate consumer that it has been
done, many people use a black back of various sorts to enhance the
color of white opals. You absolutely must disclose this to the
consumer, however, as it is a deceptive and unethical practice not to.
If you are wholesaling you must make sure that the retailers you are
selling to are disclosing it. A better solution, of course, is to use
boulder opals or black opals, which have natural dark backgrounds
highlighting the colors of the stones.

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


I recently made a pair of earrings with the client’s white Australian
opals. I bezel set them in white gold and oxidized the inside of the
bezel. Made a big difference; the fire really popped.


And if you are using doublets, or triplets (which must of course be
revealed to the customer), they will have a black backing. Margaret


Beth, Paul Downing has 4 fantastic books on Opals, Opal Cutting Made
Easy, Advanced Opal Cutting, Opal Adventures, and Opal Identification
and Value. In the Advanced book, he recommends painting the back of
the Opal with black paint to bring out the fire. This is done for
doublets and triplets so bubbles in the epoxy wont show, and also
works if the Opal is transparent (jelly opal) or thin.

If you have any interest in Opals, get all 4 books. They are easy to
read, and you cant put one down once you start it. The best one is
Opal Adventures. It tells of his trips to Australia, and when you
finish the book, you will have a much greater appreciation for those
flashes of red, green and blue. Even if you dont have an interest in
Opals, read these books and when you finish, you will…or I’ll buy
them back from you…

Love and God Bless

Home 214-321-6253
Work 972-714-6650
Cell 214-213-0777


Dear Karl and Janet… What did you mean about you oxidized the inside
of the bezel to make the opals stand out better??? White to what??


beth - since i cut my stones i always have a bunch of the cutoffs left
over such as lapis - and since i cut a lot of lightning ridge opal -
it’s in the ‘black’ side of black or white opal rough - i use a thin
slice of the lapis (2 to 3mm). sometimes for stones like harlequin
opal i will use a slice of black onyx. using black epoxy would work,
but down the road it might come loose in a tiny patch or bubble &
that could show through the set stone if it’s light enough to need a
backing in the first place. for boulder opal, my all time favorite, i
save some of the ironstone matrix dust from when i cut it & mix that
with E6000 as a setting ‘bed’. most boulder opals don’t need this
step, but mine do since i use thick seamed pieces that i flake
instead of polish the surfaces & sometimes there are only small
patches without matrix on the back. good luck - ive


I used the silver black oxidizing solution I use for silver. After
polishing I heated the gold before I applied it to the inside of the
bezel . Got a nice black. When I fitted the opals in the bezels the
colors stood out.

Janet Kofoed