Doublets and triplets – Oh My! Would this be a parent’s worse nightmare or best blessing? Just kidding. I’m not referring to the amount of kids in a set (thank goodness). I’m talking about opals.
Let’s discuss doublets first. Just to be certain we are all on the same page, a solid (natural) opal is just that, one solid gemstone. Doublets are kind of like a partially man-made stone sandwich. They consist of an opal slice “glued” to a black or grey material. Then, it is “glued” to a thicker common opal slice. There you have it, a three layer opal sandwich, called a doublet.
Take a look at (picture 1 below) this opal doublet pin. Notice how thin the doublet really is. You will notice the stick pin glued to the common opal (white bottom layer). Then, there is a thin black layer in the middle. Finally, the decorative top is the thin opal slice. It is glued to the black backing to enhance the play of color, which imitates the more expensive black opal solid.
Picture 1. Opal Doublet Pin from a Yard Sale. Notice the thin layers. The common opal layer is the bottom white layer. In the middle is a black layer. The top layer is a thin opal slice.
The triplet opal is another opal stone sandwich, just like the doublet. However, it has one additional layer on the very top, a round slice of clear quartz. This clear quartz acts as a cap protecting and magnifying the thin slice of opal underneath. This usually makes the play of color more spectacular. This round clear cap makes it appear to be a round opal solid. However, don’t be fooled, if you look at it carefully you will be able to tell it is a clear cap that is magnifying the opal underneath.
Look at the earrings pictured below. They are triplets. There is a clear round cap on top of the opal layer (notice the reflection in picture 2). The clear cap is reflecting the light. If you look at the earrings from the side (picture 3), you will notice the dome, round shape of the clear quartz cap. Observing them through my loupe reveals the color of play is flat and comes from the back of the “stone” sandwich. This confirms it is an opal triplet and not a solid opal.
Picture 2. Opal Triplet Earrings from a Yard Sale. Notice the clear top cap is reflecting the light.
Picture 3. Side View of the Opal Triplet Earrings from a Yard Sale. Notice the round dome cap.
Price of Doublets and Triplets – Generally
The prices for opals can fluctuate depending on a number of factors, but here is a general guide (providing the stone’s color, play of color, and quality are the same). Solid opals are more valuable than doublets and triplets. Doublets are more valuable than triplets. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because no two opals are the same. Some doublets and triplets can be quality jewelry, while a solid opal might not have a great play of color. If this is the case, they might be worth more than the solid opal. Just keep this generality in mind.
Where did I get these opal doublets and triplets? Of course, a yard sale I attended over the weekend. The cost was FREE, because I was buying some other stuff and the seller threw them in the deal for free! If you want to read the tip on how that is done, read the Silver Horseshoe Pin Lesson blog post. These were included in that jewelry lot.
If you haven’t read the first article in the opal series, read it by clicking here. Read the third article in the opal series about solid opals here. Yes, there is more to them than you think. Want to read the forth and final article in the Opal Series, where we discuss the characteristics of opals, read it here.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting,
Vicki Priebe Author of "Cheap Gold and Silver"