What Is An Opal Doublet?
Question: Hello! Your opal creations are really lovely. I have a question. I notice that you describe some of your stones as doublets.
Others are not so named, but in some of your descriptions of your products, you indicate that you bond Solid Opal to a backing.
Do you then consider the latter to be a doublet?
I confess that I am wondering about this because I own an older Australian opal, that puzzled the experts who examined it. It is bezel set in 9k and almost certainly was created in Australia probably earlier in the 20th century.
After microscopic examination is appeared to be a face opal that was bonded to a thinner rather clear opal backing. It probably was produced before commercial doublet production was widespread.
I was just wondering if such stones, which seem to have some similar production characteristics to the opals that you create, are considered to be doublets, or possibly regarded as something else?
Answer: Thank you Beth for your question and interest.
Well, your opal certainly poses an interesting subject I must say.
When I first began cutting opal as a young man I used to be fascinated by opal's early history and the miners themselves, they were an intriguing lot that's for sure but I also read about early experimentation with opal doublets and the like.
Some used to experiment with tree resin for bonding (the trees in those regions were very tough) with joining the slice of opal to a backing (probably clear opal potch or similiar) using the tree resin, baking it for awhile in an oven then letting it cool and the resulting bond may have proved quite strong.
Developments in the 1950's and 1960's with new bonding epoxies certainly revolutionised the whole bonding process!
But to answer your question;
Once an opal is affixed to another stone or backing, it would always be classed as a doublet, (most doublets usually consist of a thin slice of opal attached to a backing to give it strength and as you say, often highlighting the colour,)
However, in some of my pieces the opal is quite thick enough to be classed as solid opal if left unattached.
When the opal that I use forms the full top half of a piece, I am actually using solid opal as a primary in my piece, but technically, it would still have to be classed as a doublet. :-)