Opals & Gemstones

What’s the Difference Between a Precious and Non-Precious Opal?

The word opal notoriously conjures images of rainbows and colorful flashes. But not all opal aligns with this visual; it speaks to precious opal, but largely neglects non-precious opal which accounts for a great deal of the opal recovered from mining.

Opal is formed from a solution of silicon dioxide and water. As rainwater trickles down through the fissures in the earth it picks up silica from sandstone along the way. Next, the now silica-rich solution settles into cracks

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How Is Opal Formed?

Have you ever wondered about the science behind the splendor? How those incredible shifting rainbows are created inside of stone? Opals are formed from a mineral known as silica, specifically hydrated amorphous silica. Silica is a common mineral found in soil, sand, granite, concrete, rock, and many other natural materials. Hydrated amorphous silica simply means that opal has a high water content.

Opal is found in many places like Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, and the Western US, however Australia produces 95% of the world’s precious opal. NIXIN Jewelry sources nearly all of our precious opal from Australia, working with material like

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