Playing with Opal Patterns

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At Omi Privé we covet black opal from the Lightning Ridge area of New South Wales, Australia. As gemologists we are taught never to identify gemstones by sight alone, but when it comes to natural opals, there’s nothing that quite compares and there are no two opals that are exactly alike. There are certain patterns that appear more often than others in the play-of-color seen in opals.

Opal is a non-crystalline form of the mineral silica. It is formed when tiny spheres of silica solidify and stack on top of one another. The uniformity of size of these spheres helps determine how the opal diffracts light and what color appears. Generally, when the spheres are more uniform in size and arrangement, the opal will produce more intense and defined play of color. We love to design with a variety of patterns and colors; here we will take a closer look at some of these pattern names as seen in Omi Privé pieces:

Pinfire: Seen in these opal rings – pinfire patterned opals can be described as having small bright spots of different colors that punctuate the stone and are visible in all directions.

R1796-RC1730-OPOV R1962-RC1740-OPOV



Sheen: & Moss: Sheen and moss patterns can be observed in this opal pendant. Sheen is considered as an overly similar, matching color pattern with diffuse, undefined flashes. It would also classify as a moss pattern which is just as it sounds; the play of color resembles scrawling moss.


Flash: The flash pattern in opals can appear in different ways. A broad flash pattern will cover a substantial part of the face of the opal, usually as a single color. Rolling flash patterns will roll across the face of the stone as it’s moved. Below are two examples of flash pattern opals.




Flagstone Harlequin: Harlequin patterns are often the most rare and valuable of all opal patterns, and are defined by a pattern of repeating squares of color. There are varieties of this pattern, and one is the flagstone harlequin, which contains patches of color that are more irregular in shape and fit together in a mosaic style similar to flagstone paving.

R1839-RO1213-OPOV R2114-RC1797-OPOV

Clover Harlequin: Similar to the above flagstone harlequin pattern, clover harlequin opals will display units of color that form in a clover leaf-like design.


Chaff: Opals with chaff patterns will often display other patterns as well, but the chaff pattern is observed when randomly oriented patches of color are broken by fine lines or brushstrokes crosshatching in different directions.

R2097-RC1795-OPOV R1735-RO1005-OPOV

Ribbon: Seen below in this exquisite opal, this pattern is observed as “ribbons” of color that will run across the opal, generally parallel from one another.


This is just a small sampling of some of the recognizable patterns seen in opal. No two opals are alike, which is why developing a catalogue of patterns to help gemstone dealers and jewelers more accurately describe the stone is important. It’s common for opals to display one or more of these patterns throughout the stone, but generally, those with larger, more saturated and distinct patterns throughout will be more valuable. At Omi Privé we love celebrating this magnificent gemstone with vibrant and unusual color combinations and accents that emphasize the phenomenal nature of the opal.

Shop our opal designs at your local retailer!

Surprise and Delight- Design Details in Omi Privé

Posted by & filed under Omi Privé.

At Omi Privé, the beauty is definitely in the details. When designing our pieces, first and foremost, it is about the gemstone. Niveet, President and Lead Designer, believes that the mounting each Omi Gem is placed into should reflect the time and attention to detail that nature took to produce such gorgeous gemstones. Omi Privé’s pieces are meticulously handcrafted in southern California where the company first began selling loose gemstones nearly forty years ago. Using a combination of classic techniques and modern technology, we achieve a level of craftsmanship that is not easily duplicated.



For example – in this close up of one of our popular styles, the sapphire is supported by a double wire basket. To set the stones, each setting is hand-drilled on individual wires and then hand assembled to form the basket. This subtle detailing is oftentimes known only to the wearer, but that is ok by us!  Our desire is that every owner of an Omi Privé piece recognizes the care we put into all aspects of our designs.

RC1400 Closeup1


Double Basket


As another example – Notice the stones set between the split in the ring’s shank. On first glance, you might not even know it is there. But the construction of each piece, through pulled wire technique allows for all metal surfaces to be polished, and just as importantly, this technique ensures that the metal is denser and less porous than if cast. All these elements make certain that your jewelry will stand the test of time!



Taking a closer look at our French pavé, again you will notice Omi’s superior craftsmanship. Treating each piece of jewelry like its own mini-sculpture, each pavé prong is carved by hand. This ensures their strength and allows our master jewelers more control, which is why very little metal can often be seen when our French pavé halos are complete.

French Pave


For our Vault-worthy rings, we also like to add the tiny detail of a small round alexandrite set inside the bottom of shank. Alexandrite is Niveet’s favorite stone to design with, it is a signature that speaks to rarity and value, and also a gift to the wearer.