Interesting . . . a "sliver of opal" and yet the cost of these
are quite high . . . are they more durable than regular opal???
Decent opal of any kind is very expensive. Triplets and doublets
utilize high-quality opal that occurs in structural forms that
cannot be used to cut “naturals” or “solids” (too thin, "wavy"
patterns, etc.) Logically it would seem that using less opal would
result in greatly lowered costs to the end user, and it does -
when you’re comparing apples to apples. Triplets are made to
duplicate the appearance of black opals by gluing a thin layer of
opal to a black backing material. A “sandwich” is then made by
placing a protective layer of glass (now common) or clear quartz
on top, which adds durability. But when you compare a triplet
with a black opal “natural” of similar size and visual pizazz the
price difference is simply awesome! Solid black opal prices in 5
digits PER CARAT are commonplace while most triplets sell for a
few dollars each.
If anyone thinks triplets are overpriced they should try making
one. Apart from the cost of the necessary (expensive!) equipment,
the labor involved is many times that of cutting solids, and the
materials are expensive, too. While assembled opals are designed
to resemble the appearance of black opals, they can also become
desirable rarities on their own. Unusually large and fine
triplets, especially some from the Spencer, Idaho opal mines, are
named and command very high prices. (Triplets from this location
can also exhibit unique and very valuable natural opal cat’s-eyes
and 3-legged stars; I own a couple of each). So while the general
run of triplets should be considered essentially as “costume
jewelry,” there are major exceptions to this rule. And fine
doublets with thick opal layers sell for many hundreds of dollars.
It should also be mentioned that triplets and doublets are made to
preserve rare and beautiful opal, not with any intent to defraud
buyers. But there are always those who will misrepresent them,
either through ignorance or greed, and there is an unfortunate
public misconception that anyone who sells assembled opals is
trying to perpetrate a fraud. Not true. Doublets and triplets
should always be sold “by the piece,” not “by the carat” because
so much of their weight consists of materials other than opal. If
they are properly priced and explained to the buying public, they
offer jewelers excellent lower-end price-points for customers who
love opals but can’t afford $100 a carat and up - way up!