Opal is an extremely precious gem. Australian opal is sometimes known worldwide to be so expensive. But why are they like that? Well, perhaps the first thing would be to understand the source and reason for this. First, Australian rock opal is mined in the hardest and most remote place in Australia.
The weather conditions in this place are too extreme. Very dry, so getting to these opals is not a walk in the park. Secondly, we need to understand the colors and splendor found in opal. Australian opal jewelry is the most colorful of all the gems in the world.
All the rainbow coloration can be found in this amazing Australian boulder opal. Opal is also an intense and mystical fire inside, which has really popularized it and in the process has made it more expensive; for this reason, a good example of opal can be worth even more than a diamond. Here, the manager of Gem-A Instruments, Samatha Lloyd FGA EG, provides a quick but essential guide to the value factors of opal and what distinguishes a fantastic specimen from an average one. There are a number of factors that alter the value of opals.
As mentioned, black opal may have higher prices than light opal (especially with a tinted black body tone), although this is not to say that a fantastic light opal can't be more expensive than a mediocre black opal. The term crystal opal refers to the “diaphanity” (transparency) of an opal, not its crystal structure, and is defined as any type of opal that is translucent to transparent. For opals, you need to consider the type of opal, the tone of the body, the brightness, the color pattern, the thickness of the color bar, the play of colors and any defects you may have. Though once known as “bad luck”, opals are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after gemstones in jewelry collections.
Thanks to Hatton Garden-based gemstone supplier, Marcus McCallum FGA, for taking these stunning photographs of Ethiopian and Australian opals. For example, Ethiopian opals are white and have an absolutely amazing play of spectral colors, Australian opals have a darker opacity, often with majestic blue and green iridescences, and Mexican opals are usually a fiery transparent orange (fire opals are the only type of opal translucent, in fact). Valuable opal is the one with a black background color; the play of colors contains shades that span the entire spectrum; the sparkles are large enough and are evenly distributed throughout the gemstone; no inclusions or fractures. Doublets and triplets are an “assembled” stone that only contains a thin sheet of natural opal and are therefore generally much less valuable.
If the body of the opal is transparent, also known as clear crystal opal, stains of color can be seen below the surface. Australia is a phenomenal source of opals and produces some of the most incredible specimens in the world. In fact, opals have a much longer history as a stone of good luck, as most superstitious people consider them today. Brilliance refers to the brilliance and clarity of the colors that opal shows, when the stone is viewed face up.
Unlike ordinary opals, which can sometimes be attractive in their own right, precious opals show a magnificent play of colors and are much rarer. However, as the opal gets bigger, such as in the range of 5 to 10 carats, the price per carat increases significantly due to scarcity. Although this opal is smaller, it reflects light and has a better play of colors than the larger opal.