Opal is “Australia’s National Gemstone”, and is also one of the world’s rarest, most beautiful and precious gemstones.
Opals are famous for their brilliant and beautiful colours. These include many colours from popular gemstones; crystal and quartz and diamond clear, white, grey, peridot and emerald greens, tanzanite and sapphire and aquamarine blues, amber orange, citrine yellow, gold, coral, garnet and ruby reds, rose pink, amethyst purple, brown and black. That’s a lot of colours!
Australian opal accounts for 95-97% of the world’s supply of precious Opal. Lightning Ridge and surrounding opal fields within the Australian state of New South Wales produces the most precious Opal of all. The magnificent Black Opal.
Every single opal on earth is unique. Opal was derived from the Greek word ‘Opallos’, which means “to see changes of colour” and when an opal is turned and rocked backwards and forwards, you can see all the colours of the rainbow in a “play of colour”, which is the result of the interference and diffraction of light passing through the silica spheres in opal.
There are two types of opal – precious and common. Precious opals display a “play of colour” and are extremely rare. Opals which are dull and have no play of colour are called common opal and are valueless, these common opals are generally referred to as “potch”. Around 95% of all opal mined is common (and only suitable for practising your cutting techniques with, or doublet or triplet backings if the potch is black ot dark based). Of the 5% with colour, about 95% is considered mediocre grade – leaving only around 0.25% of all opal mined with any real value at all.