WHAT IS HARLEQUIN OPAL?

We often hear that Harlequin Opal is the most prestigious and sought-after type of Australian Opal. Unfortunately in the market it is quite common to come across opals which are marketed and sold as ‘harlequin’ with the only intention to emphasise the presumed value of the particular opal. We think that it is very important to make the readers aware of the incorrectness of this common belief which creates a lot of confusion and disappointment. At the same time we wish to provide the readers with the correct information by specifying which characteristics distinguish Harlequin Opals from other types of opals. 

 So, what is Harlequin Opal? What are the characteristics of this highly sought-after opal?

The mere fact that this opal is called ‘harlequin’ already gives us an idea of the type of characteristics of the gemstone. Harlequin Opals are very rare in nature. They display a pattern which resembles the harlequin mask, which is characterised by large patches of fabric with different colours.

Two quality opals with harlequin pattern from Lightning Ridge, Australia

 In the same way Harlequin Opals display distinct shimmering ‘patches’, with different shapes, some round some vaguely square. These different patches form a variegated combination of colours that constantly change depending on the variation of the incidence of the light. The colour of the body tone of Harlequin Opals ranges from deep black to milky white. 

Sx image - 'Glengarry Chequers' di 4,31 carat .Image from Book 'Alla riscoperta degli opali in Australia' tradotto, pubblicato e venduto da OpaleMio. Dx image - Semiblack opal, Cocooran NSW Australia.