Know Your Opal

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No two opals will ever be the same and you may have a few family treasures hidden away that you should reconnect with. Rhys Fox of Opals Down Under illuminates Carlie Wacker on how opals are valued.

The Australian Opal knows the power of being its own kind of beautiful – no two opals are the same and they offer such a fascinating diversity in colour, clarity and pattern. 

This can make it complex to value an opal. Here’s what to look for: 


The four main types of Opals in order of rarity:
Black Opal, generally from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales; Boulder Opal, a Queensland opal from Winton, Opalton, Quilpie, Yowah, Koroit and more; Crystal Opal, generally from the South Australian fields such as Coober Pedy, Mintabie, Andamooka and Lambina, but can be from Lightning Ridge, White Cliffs (NSW); in some cases, Queensland; and finally the
White (Milky) Opal of Coober Pedy, South Australia.


Not to be confused with body tone (black/grey/white), colour valuation looks at the unique and impressive rainbow hues. Red is the rarest, followed by orange, green, blue, then Purple, simply speaking. There is also a plethora of colours in between such as pink, yellow, aqua and more. 


The brighter the stone, the higher the value. Opal is a naturally-formed prism and therefore works using diffraction of light so the tighter the formation of the opal, the more intense the brightness and value.


The cleaner the ‘face’ of the opal, the higher the value. Natural inclusions will be potch (common opal), sandstone or with Boulder Opal, ironstone spots. 


Opal is so random and unique that a combination of patterns can form in any one stone. Some patterns are rare and highly sought after such as Harlequin, Flagstone or Chinese Writing. More common patterns are Floral, Pinfire or Grass.


This is a form of weight. A carat equals one-fifth of a gram and is the key measurement for gemstones. An opal will be given a price per carat based on the above-mentioned factors, then multiplied by the opal’s carat weight.

Rhys agrees it is a lot to consider and we always say, you should choose the opal that ‘speaks’ to you, not just because it has a certain monetary value to it.”

Get your opals out people – its time to get to know your Aussie opals.

About the Author /

Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor and Editor for Hello Sunshine Magazine. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

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