Chemical Composition and Formation Process

Lab opal is a manmade material composed of approximately 80% silica and 20% resin. It is created in laboratories through a process that mimics the natural formation of opals, which involves depositing silica spheres in a resin matrix. This process takes several months and involves controlled heating and cooling cycles to ensure the formation of the characteristic opal play-of-color. This process allows for uniformity and enhanced durability.

Names and Alternative Names

“Lab Opal” is a common name, referring to its laboratory creation. Alternative names include “Synthetic Opal” and “Imitation Opal,” indicating its man-made origin.

The Romans named opals “Opalus,” which means “precious stone.” They were enamoured by the stone’s unique play of colours. Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher, described opals as having “the living fire of the ruby, the glorious purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald, all glittering together in an incredible mixture of light”

Mythology and Legends

While lab opal itself does not have ancient legends, natural opal has a rich mythological history.
Greek mythology attributed opals to Zeus’ joyful tears after defeating the Titans. These gemstones were believed to have fallen from the sky during bolts of lightning.
According to legend, the Roman senator Nonius owned a magnificent opal that Mark Antony desired to buy for his lover, Cleopatra. When Nonius refused, Antony ordered his execution in revenge.
Australian aborigines believed that opals were left behind by the Creator, who descended to Earth on a rainbow. Wherever the Creator’s feet touched the ground, colorful opals appeared.

Electric Cosmology

Mining, Production and Use

Synthetic opal production began in the 1970s as a more affordable and consistent alternative to natural opals. It is widely used in jewelry due to its similar appearance to natural opal and its durability.
Lab opal is produced in controlled laboratory environments, primarily in the United States, Japan, and Australia. The process involves synthesizing silica spheres, which are then suspended in a resin matrix and polymerized. This material is cut and polished into beads, cabochons, and other jewelry pieces, mimicking the appearance of natural opal.

Lab Opal*