Is Opalite a Real Gemstone? Differences Between Opalite, Moonstone, and Opal
How does an Opalite and a Moonstone, “crystals” that can be mistaken for one another, differ? According to Soul Charms, it’s quite easy to tell if a stone is an Opalite, which is not a naturally occurring stone, or if it’s a Moonstone. It’s also fairly easy to distinguish an Opalite from an Opal gemstone.
Lately, sellers are claiming the glass Opalite to be something it’s not, which is a real gemstone. No, it’s not natural “Opalite Quartz,” it’s simply a piece of pretty glass.
What Is Opalite?
Opalite, despite being great to look at, is a piece of man-made glass. It’s not considered a gemstone, Moonstone, or Quartz. It’s really just pretty glass given the trade name “Opalite.”
One of the biggest concerns about the Opalite market is that sellers claim these stones to be natural. Whether on Ebay or Etsy, there is no shortage of sellers insisting their products to be “Opalite Quartz,” and even go as far as to claim that it has metaphysical qualities. However, it’s just glass that may or may not have healing properties—the jury's still out on whether this is true or not.
It’s completely wrong to refer to Opalite as “Opal,” “Moonstone,” or “Sea Opal.” Given that these stones exist by nature and are not man-made, it can be incredibly misleading to mention Opalite by their names. Opalite is neither a type of opal, nor is it a Moonstone. Many don’t even consider it as a crystal.
Still, even with these misconceptions about Opalite, one cannot deny its gorgeous physical appearance. It’s often carved into talismans, skulls, Buddhas, and lately, into crystal-like shapes sold as strands of briolettes or beads.
Opalite is also formed into smooth cabochons, hearts, ovals, faceted briolettes, rounds, squares, and other gemstone-like cuts used commonly in today’s jewelry items.
Is It Really Opalite?
Now, the question we’ve all been waiting for: how can you tell if it’s Opalite? Opalite has this sort-of “glow” to it that’s even more apparent in a photograph. Aside from that, it also has a transparency that makes it perfectly clear that there are no inclusions. You see tiny bubbles within the glass that are almost always more visible in person than in photos.
When viewed against an illuminating background, Opalite displays a milky-white, translucent appearance. Against a dark backdrop, though, it displays a blue glow. So, in a nutshell, the Opalite “glow” varies depending on the background the glass is set against.
Opalite is also much cheaper compared to its naturally-occurring counterparts, with an entire strand costing as low as $5 in some hobby stores.
What Is a Moonstone?
The Moonstone, on the other hand, is a real gemstone. It’s a member of the Feldspar family along with Sunstone, Rainbow Moonstone, Amazonite, and Labradorite.
Orthoclase and Albite are the two main minerals constituting the Moonstone. They form stacked layers within the stone. When the gemstone is illuminated, the thinner, flatter layer disperses the light uniquely, resulting in a phenomenon known as “adularescence.”
Adularescence is the shimmer that moves across the gem as it is repositioned. In a Moonstone, this shimmer assumes a blue glow when set against a white or black background or no background at all. The “glow” appears in bright flashes as it follows the light.
Then, there’s the Rainbow Moonstone, which isn’t actually a Moonstone. This stone is a type of Labradorite. Its adularescence comes in a variety of colors, from blue, yellow, and pink to red, green, and purple.
Is It Really a Moonstone?
The “layers” within a Moonstone are quite apparent and are usually telling of the gem’s authenticity. Cracks or inclusions are also present, though they won’t appear as clear as glass.
In high-end Moonstones, these features are significantly clearer, but they still won’t possess the milky-glass appearance of Opalite cracks. Labradorite and Rainbow Moonstone also possess these “layers” within them.
When Does Opalite Become a Real Gem?
Now, this is where things start to get confusing regarding the Opalite’s “status.” This is because while Glass Opalite is more popularly known by consumers, there also exists a naturally-occurring version of it called the Opalite Cat’s Eye or Green Opalite.
Green Opalite is a natural stone that’s typically found in Iceland, Tanzania, Peru, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Canada, Australia, and the USA. The stone is so uniquely green that, upon first glance, you’d be able to tell that it's not the man-made version. When carved into a Cabochon, the Green Opalite starts to display a sort of cat-eye effect, hence its other name.
Natural Opalite’s Chemical Composition
Natural Opalite is more closely related to Opal in terms of chemical properties. The gem is composed of bits of silicon dioxide stacked onto each other in the shape of a pyramid. It’s this form that allows the “cat’s eye” to appear more prominent when the stone is carved into a domed Cabochon.
Opal vs. Glass Opalite
Neither the man-made or naturally-occurring Opalite is to be confused with the Opal gemstone. Despite having its name derived from the precious October birthstone, Opalite doesn’t share any of Opal’s chemical compositions. At a glance, one may mistake it for an Opal, but that’s about where their similarities end.
Glass Opalite does not showcase the play of color or fire that Opal does, and it tends to come in a variety of cracks and colors. While it is called the Tiffany stone in reference to Manhattan’s high-end jewelry store, Opalite is considered by many as a term for low-grade Opals with cracks. While flawless in appearance, it does not come close to the beauty and magnificence of the Opal gemstone.
Is Opalite a Gem?
The answer depends on what kind of Opalite you’re referring to. The man-made Opalite, while pretty in appearance, is only glass. The Cat’s Eye Opalite or Green Opalite, on the other hand, is undoubtedly a naturally-occurring gemstone.
Once you know what to look for, there’s no way you can mistake an ordinary glass Opalite for a Moonstone or an Opal, either. The latter two are naturally-occurring and significantly more precious than Opalite, which, in some stores, is sold for a mere $5 per strand.