“Potch” is what we call worthless opal. It is actually opal but is has dull and lifeless grey black , white or unappealing ranges of color.
These days people tend to think that opal is found in Australia. Well it certainly is and there are two predominant types: black opal and white opal. Black opal comes from the Lightning Ridge region in the state of NSW and white opal comes from the Coober Pedy region in the state of South Australia.
Australian black opal is recognized as being the best quality gemstone opal in the world. You really need to think about that for a while. Obviously there is beautiful opal found in not just Coober Pedy but in different parts of the world.
Opal is found in all corners of the earth and has been known for many hundreds of years before it was found in Australia. Louis Leakey, an anthropologist in Kenya, found opal which had been worked by early artisans as long ago as 6,000 years.
Today there are still deposits of opal found in Hungary, Germany, Russia and other European countries as well as North and South America and Africa.
Many African states are finding deposits of opal. There is opal found in most continents and many countries but the deposits are small and the quality of opal is not good. In Australia the quantity is huge and the quality is magnificent at the top end.
I guess what experts mean is that if you are looking for the very best gemstone opal then you will most likely be talking about the black opal.
I have seen a million dollars worth of gemstone black opal held in the palm of a miner’s hand. But I have also seen truckloads of worthless opal.
Another thing that I like about opal is that you don’t have to be rich to have a nice piece of opal jewelry. You can choose to purchase a lower quality solid opal and have it set into a lovely setting and it will still look great even though it might not have the stunning colors of more expensive opal. It often will have some exciting character about it.
Alternatively, you can choose a doublet or a triplet which will often need a little more care as it is made from two or three pieces but will be mostly bright and flashy at a very affordable price.
Sometimes you will find potch with lines of bright opal within it and this will be cheap and will make splendid opal jewelry, particularly opal pendants rather than opal earrings or rings for a small amount of money.
Gary Hocking makes custom jewellery specializing in Australian opals. He has his own website http://www.opaljewelryexpress.com Feel free to use this article as long as you keep the bio and the live link to his website.