A Review of the Classification of Opal with Reference to Recent New Localities
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Our examination of over 230 worldwide opal samples shows that X-ray diffraction (XRD) remains the best primary method for delineation and classification of opal-A, opal-CT and opal-C, though we found that mid-range infra-red spectroscopy provides an acceptable alternative. Raman, infra-red and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy may also provide additional information to assist in classification and provenance. The corpus of results indicated that the opal-CT group covers a range of structural states and will benefit from further multi-technique analysis. At the one end are the opal-CTs that provide a simple XRD pattern (“simple” opal-CT) that includes Ethiopian play-of-colour samples, which are not opal-A. At the other end of the range are those opal-CTs that give a complex XRD pattern (“complex” opal-CT). The majority of opal-CT samples fall at this end of the range, though some show play-of-colour. Raman spectra provide some correlation. Specimens from new opal finds were examined. Those from Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Peru, Tanzania and Turkey all proved to be opal-CT. Of the three specimens examined from Indonesian localities, one proved to be opal-A, while a second sample and the play-of-colour opal from West Java was a “simple” Opal-CT. Evidence for two transitional types having characteristics of opal-A and opal-CT, and “simple” opal-CT and opal-C are presented.
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