Hyalite Opal: Formation, Properties, Uses

Hyalite opal is a transparent to translucent variety of opal, with no play-of-color, formed as a secondary deposit in volcanic rock cavities. Hyalite Opal has a glassy luster, often milky white or gray, and fluoresces bright green under shortwave ultraviolet light. Used in jewelry and prized by collectors for its rarity and unique formation.

Hyalite opal, also known as water opal, Muller's glass, or jalite, is a gemstone with a glassy luster. Technically, Hyalite opal is not considered a true opal. Hyalite opal's a type of opaloid, meaning it shares some characteristics with opals but isn't classified as a true opal.

Müller's glass is named after its discoverer, Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein.

Hyalite opal lacks the internal structure that gives other opals their signature play of color, but it shines in other ways. Its glassy appearance and bright green fluorescence under ultraviolet light make it a truly captivating gem.


Hyalite Opal
Hyalite ,Waltsch, Bohemia, Czech Republic
Photo: Marin Mineral

Hyalite opal is not considered a true opal by the International Gemological Institute (IGI) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This is because it lacks the internal structure of common opal, which is responsible for the characteristic play-of-color. Hyalite opal is amorphous, meaning it lacks a regular crystal structure, unlike common opal's microcrystalline structure of silica spheres.

Hyalite Opal Formation

Volcanic: Commonly found in volcanic vugs, cavities, and fractures within ash-flow tuffs or rhyolites. These regions have experienced hot, silica-rich fluids from hydrothermal activity or cooling magma, which deposit dissolved silica that solidifies into hyalite.

Pegmatite pockets: In granitic pegmatites, pockets of late-stage fluids rich in silica and other minerals can crystallize as hyalite alongside other gemstones.

Fumaroles: Hot springs and fumaroles in geothermal areas sometimes deposit hyalite, especially if the fluids are abundant in silica and cool rapidly.

Hyalite Opal
Hyalite opal, Waltsch, Bohemia, Czech Republic
Photo: Henk Smeets/Tomeik Minerals.


Hyalite Opal Properties

Composition: Primarily hydrated silica dioxide (SiO₂·nH₂O), where "n" represents the variable amount of water molecules bound within the structure. This water content contributes to its transparency and softness. Water content ranging from 2-13%.

Crystal system: Amorphous.

Structure: Amorphous, meaning it lacks the regular, repeating crystal lattice arrangement of some minerals. This contributes to its glass-like appearance and luminescence.

Appearance: Transparent to translucent with a glassy luster, like water trapped in stone. Colorless to white, sometimes with a subtle green or blue tint. Can exhibit a faint play of color if inclusions are present.

Hardness: Relatively soft, with a Mohs hardness of 5.5-6.5. Requires careful handling and protection from scratches.

Fracture: Conchoidal fracture, similar to glass, meaning it breaks with smooth, curved surfaces.

Luminescence: Bright green fluorescence under ultraviolet light, a distinctive characteristic of hyalite opal.

Crystal Form: Massive, botryoidal, reniform, stalactitic: Often forms in rounded or grape-like clusters, lining cavities in volcanic rocks.

Fluorescence: One of hyalite opal's most remarkable features is its brilliant green fluorescence under ultraviolet light. This makes it a favorite among mineral collectors and adds to its otherworldly charm.

Density: Lower density than common opal, typically around 1.9-2.0 g/cm³, contributing to its lighter weight.

Luster: Vitreous, resembling the shine of glass.

Porous: Absorbs water and other liquids easily, requiring careful cleaning and storage.  

Heat sensitive: Can crack or lose its luminescence with excessive heat.

Pleochroism: Weak, colorless to pale green

Specific Gravity: 2.1 - 2.3: Slightly denser than water, reflecting its higher silica content compared to common opal.

Pleochroism: Weak or absent: Does not exhibit significant variation in color when viewed from different directions.

Refractive Index: 1.44 - 1.48: Lower than many other opals, contributing to its slightly milky appearance.


fluorescent hyalite opal
Hyalite Opal with daylight, LED and UV light fluorescence, from Zacatecas, Mexico.
Photo: Spiriferminerals.com

When exposed to shortwave UV, fluorescent hyalite opal comes alive with an intense green glow. This luminescence can range from a soft emerald green to a vibrant lime green, depending on the specimen.

Hyalite Opal Uses

Practical Uses

Jewelry: Hyalite opal's translucent beauty makes it a stunning choice for cabochons in rings, necklaces, and earrings. Its milky white or gray color offers a unique, ethereal aesthetic.

Collectors' Gem: Due to its rarity and mesmerizing green fluorescence under ultraviolet light, hyalite opal is prized by mineral collectors.

Decorative Flair: Translucent hyalite opal shines beautifully in sculptures and ornaments, adding a touch of elegance to home décor.

Metaphysical Uses

Emotional Healing & Clarity: Hyalite opal is believed to possess calming and cleansing properties, helping to clear negative energies and promote emotional well-being. It's said to bring clarity and focus to the mind, aiding in decision-making and creative pursuits.

Spiritual Growth: Associated with the crown and third eye chakras, hyalite opal is believed to facilitate spiritual growth and connection to higher realms. It's said to enhance intuition, promote astral travel, and open doors to new perspectives.

Meditation & Guidance: The calming and centering energy of hyalite opal makes it a valuable aid in meditation. It's believed to help connect with spiritual guides and facilitate deeper inner exploration.


Hyalite Opal Jewelry
Hyalite Opal Jewelry

Overall, hyalite opal is a captivating gemstone with a unique story and mesmerizing beauty. Whether you're drawn to its ethereal appearance, its geological origins, or its potential metaphysical properties, hyalite opal offers a glimpse into the wonders of the natural world.


Read also:
Types of Opal With Photos
Matrix Opal
Honeycomb Opal

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