White Cliffs Nsw
Whilst visiting White Cliffs ponder for a moment and realise, that millions of years ago, the ground on which you are standing now was under the sea! Swimming around here back in the Cretaceous period were Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs.The Plesiosaurs were 3 to 12 metres tall with long necks and small heads. The Ichthyosaurs were similar in size but were more fish like. These opalised fossil reptiles have been found here at White Cliffs.
Other fossils that can be found here include Crinoids, also called Sea Lilies, that are related to the Starfish and Sea Urchin; Belemnites, that are very similar to the modern Squid; various Brachiopods, Bivalve shells and Gastropods, the snail like animal with the coiled shell, are also to be found here opalised as well as various Plants and Cycads… and not to forget…THE DINOSAURS!
Types of Cut Opal
A solid is a natural stone that is completely whole opal. Solid opal stones are found thick enough to cut as is. The suggested minimum width to cut solids is approximately 3 mm; this still allows a jeweller to work, without damaging the stone and gives durability for wearing.
A doublet is a thin piece of opal that ranges in width from 2mm to 1/4mm, the opal piece is pre-shaped & roughly ground then the opal is glued to a backing of “potch” or glass. Black pigment is used in the glue so the stone will change from it’s original colour e.g. light blue, light green to dark blue, dark green. The opal is then cut & polished and can be used in jewellery or sold as a single stone. Buying a doublet means that you can purchase beautiful opal for a price, which is a third to a half, less than buying a solid of the same quality.
A triplet is a thinner piece of opal that ranges in width from 1/4mm to the width of paper. The opal is rough ground and glued to a “potch” or glass backing. Then a clear quartz cap is glued to the top of the opal, after the glue has dried the cutting process is complete. This type of stone is made when the opal found is too thin to cut as solids or doublets. This process can produce impressive stones at a lower price.
All coloured opal is “precious” no matter the width and opal “strikes” are few and far between, so miners make the best of what they find!