National Opal Collection

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Since the 1880s, Australia’s extraordinary and beautiful gemstone, the opal, has been mined in the outback. Today, Australia is the world’s leading producer of opal.

Nature has captured all the colours of the spectrum, displaying them in an infinite variety of shades, patterns and brilliance and locked them into this remarkable stone. Opals lie dormant in the earth until a miner clips the edge. As light reaches the gem, it exposes the most beautiful dancing display of colour. No other gemstone can display such wonderful personality and each stone exudes its own character, allowing the wearer to own a truly unique piece of nature.

There are four main types of natural solid opal from Australia:

  • Black opal is the most valuable type, coming mainly from Lightning Ridge. High quality stones are very rare and easily distinguished by the blackness of the background ‘body tone’ or body colour.
  • Light opal is mostly mined at Coober Pedy and Mintabie (South Australia), although the first deposits were at White Cliffs (New South Wales). Stones range from being transparent to nearly opaque; they have a light or white body tone or background hue.
  • Crystal opal is a beautiful variety that includes light or black opal, which is transparent or very translucent. Colour can be seen from deep within the opal.
  • Boulder opal is a type of opal that occurs naturally in hard rock mined predominantly in Queensland. It is easily identified because, when cut, the host rock (a brown ironstone) is left on the back of the opal.

On rare occasions opalised fossils have been found. At The National Opal Collection locations in Sydney and Melbourne you can discover the incredible link between the opal and the dinosaur. The National Opal Collection is well worth a visit; here you can take a free tour of the museum, watch a presentation in the auditorium, see opal cutting demonstrations or purchase your very own opal or opal jewellery tax free.

As with a piece of art, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’; the same holds true with regards to purchasing an opal. The stone’s rarity, size, shape, colours, patterns and, most importantly, brilliance will be the important factors in determining the value of the stone.

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www.nationalopal.com

Images courtesy of National Opal Collection

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