Sterling Opal has created a new lab-cultured gemstone that combines the play of color and distinctiveness of genuine opal with the economic pricing of synthetic opal.
Over twenty years ago Jim Zachery, the developer of the Zachery Process for turquoise set out to develop a lab cultured opal. He tried to purchase silica from major manufacturers but found that none of them produced a silica product with the uniformity necessary to create quality opal. He had to take a step back and change his priorities from creating the perfect opal to creating the perfect silica.
It took him many years but he eventually developed a process to produce silica nano and micro spheres in commercial quantities with a polydispersity of .005 or better. This gave him the building blocks to begin development of a lab-grown opal. Nature’s ability to produce silica with the uniformity necessary to create opal is miraculous. It is only slightly less remarkable that man can achieve a very similar outcome in a laboratory.
The beauty of Sterling Opal is that while they are able to settle large batches of opal that will all have a similar look, each piece of opal is still quite unique. The opal is grown mainly in 1½” x 2½” squares, in lots of approximately 4.5 kilos. This enables jewelry manufacturers and designers to create many pieces of jewelry that have a similar look yet each piece will be unique. It is the unique look and the brilliant play of color that sets Sterling Opal apart from any other lab grown opal manufacturer.
Sterling Opal is currently created in several distinct designs and color waves. Each of these styles is created using a different proprietary process. While all of the varieties have dazzling color they each have a distinct appearance. The designers at Sterling Opal continue to work on new processes that will result in original creations to rival natural opal in its color and individuality. The unique qualities of each stone in its variety of forms will enable jewelry designers to conceive unique jewelry pieces with brilliant opal at a fraction of the price of genuine opal.