What is Opalite (Sea Opal Glass)?

by Rena Klingenberg.

What is opalite, also known as “sea opal glass”? Is it a gemstone, or is it manmade?

Sterling silver and opalite / sea opal glass earrings by Rena Klingenberg

Opalite Glass

“Opalite” usually refers to a manmade glass used mainly in jewelry making.

Although this material is usually anywhere from clear to milky colored, it takes on an unearthly, luminous blue glow – especially when placed against a dark backdrop.

That’s why it’s sometimes mistaken for moonstone.

However, against a white backdrop or held up to the light, opalite / sea opal glass often takes on an amber color.

But it’s the lovely, glowing blue that really attracts people.

Wear opalite jewelry against any dark colored clothing, and start counting the number of people who come up to you and ask, “What is that stone?”

There’s no doubt that it catches people’s eyes, and I’ve always found that any sea opal glass jewelry in my display sells very quickly!

Sea opal necklace display shows the luminous blue of this material against a black background

Is Opalite a Gemstone?

Although most of the jewelry components bearing this name are the glass variety, there is also a true gemstone called “opalite”.

This stone is composed of dolomite plus quartz and fluorite, and is usually a purple, lavender, or mauve color. It sort of looks like a cross between lepidolite and charoite.

You may see this gemstone also called “opal fluorite” or “tiffany stone”.

And Just to Confuse Things…

Here’s yet another way the word “opalite” is sometimes used in the gemstone world: it can also refer to an impure, common form of colored opal.

The Main Thing to Remember:

Most of the time, in the handcrafted jewelry world, the word “opalite” refers to the luminous blue, manmade “sea opal glass”.

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  1. Rena, when I saw this post here this morning, it brought back memories, because it was when I was doing a Google search a few years ago that this post came up and I discovered your site! 🙂

    I had found a pair of earrings in a secondhand shop that I wasn’t sure exactly what they’d be classified as. I actually still have the stones, for some reason I’ve held onto them. I knew right away they were too heavy to be worn as earrings, which is why they were given away I think. The stones are 1″ long, teardrop shaped (3D, not flat). They are milky white with a touch of pale blue, and you can see some markings when you look into them, but more importantly when you hold them up you can see tones of amber and red. The red flashes are really cool! I figure this must be Opalite, but I’m not exactly sure what kind. Do you have any idea from my description? Maybe I should post a picture?

  2. Tamara, it sounds like they may be opalite (sea opal glass) – but if you could post a picture of them, it might be easier to tell. Thanks! And thank you for sharing how you found JMJ via that search. I’m so glad you did!

  3. Thanks, Rena – I’ll see if I can get good pictures of them. I’m so glad I found JMJ through that search too! Seeing the post today reminded me. 🙂

  4. Cathy Alston says:

    I’ve never seen this stone before. I have been researching a stone I saw in a braclet on the internet, that glowed and research led me to a Chinese website. But the opalite I would be interested in. Where can these stones or beads be pjrchased?

  5. Hi Cathy! You can find them at a variety of jewelry / bead suppliers. Do some google searches for “sea opal glass”, “sea opal”, and “opalite”. People sell these lovely beads / cabochons under all of those names. Have fun creating with them! 🙂

  6. I purchased a few opalite bead strands from a reputable online seller several years ago. They disclosed that they are a manmade glass. There is a seller on Etsy (probably more than one & more places than Etsy) who sells them as “opal”. She also sells artificial malachite, representing them as genuine. I bought some, thinking they were real, & tested them before using. Just another example of unscrupulous people selling online. If the price seems too good to be true…

  7. Thanks for sharing your warning, Moogie! I also often see vendors labeling opalite (sea opal glass) as “moonstone” – which is also a fraudulent claim.

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