If you are an opal lover but not so well-off, doublets and triplets might be your first choice. As you probably know, there are three categories of opal - solid opal, doublet and triplet. Natural opal or solid opal refers to the gem that is cut from a single piece of material, while doublets and triplets contain only a thin layer of solid opal. Solid opal is the most valuable of the three and therefore the most expensive. Doublets and triplets are made to resemble the solid opal and due to that fact they are significantly cheaper.
As the name suggests, doublets consist of a small amount of genuine opal in a form of thin translucent layer glued or cemented onto the dark potch back. By putting these two pieces together, you get a more durable doublet with a dark backing enhancing the color of the opal. The backing of the doublets can be made of black potch (colorless opal), hard plastic, glass, ironstone or some other material. For the thin layer of precious opal, manufacturers commonly use two types of opal - white opal or crystal opal. Usually, the layer of opal in doublets is slightly thicker than that found in triplets.
Therefore, doublets have more natural look and are more valuable than their three-layered cousins. When a top quality doublet is placed into a piece of jewelry, it is hard even for an opal expert to distinguish a difference between a real solid opal and its cheaper imitation, which leaves a lot of room for frauds, so pay attention. It is well known that opals are unique and that finding two identical solid opals in nature is impossible, which makes doublets a popular choice when creating a matching sets of jewelry. They can be often seen in earrings, as well as pendants and rings.
Triplets are very similar to doublets. Like doublets, triplets are consisted of a base and a thin layer of opal, but they also have a third component, a sort of cover placed on the top, usually made of clear quartz or glass. The hard cap on the top has two purposes - to protect the middle layer and to enhance the beauty of opal's color and pattern. Triplet has only a paper thin slice of genuine opal glued to a dark base which serves, as in case of doublet, to enhance the beauty of the stone. A clear top layer insures the brilliance and durability of the triplets and, because of that third layer, triplets are more resistant to scratches and other types of damages than doublets. This glassy form stone, normally, costs less than a doublet due to the smaller amount of real opal in the middle layer.
Crucial thing to know about caring for doublets and triplets is that longer exposure to water can cause separation between the base and opal layer. The stone will not be ruined if water penetrates, it will only get cloudy appearance. Use only mild detergent and moist soft cloth for wiping the doublets and triplets.
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