Opal is one of the 6 most precious and valuable gemstones found in the world sharing it’s prestigious beauty with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls.
Opal is the only gemstone which can display all the colours of the rainbow ranging from violet, indigo, green, yellow, orange and red.
One of the most striking characteristics of opal is it’s “play of colour” in which the grains in the pattern of the opal display a spectral hue which can include one or more or all of the above colours that strikingly change hue as the stone is viewed or tilted on different angles. The magnificent change in colour the opal displays is caused by light waves diffracting off the tiny spheres packed within the microstructure of the gem.
The smaller spheres will diffract the colour blue, moving up the spectral hue to the largest sphere diffracting red the rarest colour found in precious opal.
Other important characteristics of opal include the base colour, patterns, brightness, making each stone unique.
The finest of opals are known to exceed the value of diamonds and emeralds per carat. Over 95% of the world’s precious opal comes from Australia.
Unlike most other gems, this amazing stone doesn't require impurities or faceting to create its phenomenal beauty. Its bursts of radiant colour are produced by diffraction of light in the same way as the rainbow. Besides, there are many differences between opal and other gems. They include an unimaginable array of alternating colours and shapes with a diversity of types. Click here About Opals for more information on the various types of Opals.
On seeing a Taranto Opal, there is no doubting the unrivalled individuality of this gemstone. Multidimensional and infinitely colourful, the opal can enhance any occasion, in any season, in any nation of the world. It is also Australia's iconic gemstone with 97% of the world's supply originating from the Australian outback.
But be warned! Whether you are a fossicker, miner or just an admirer, Opal Fever, commonly known as the Opal Bug, is like gold - once in your blood you're hooked forever!
The history of Australian opals started at around the late 1840's at a cattle station just 80 km outside Adelaide, called Tarrawilla near Angaston.Australian opal did not appear on the world market until the 1890s.
A rare variety of precious opal, characterised by a spectacular play of spectral colours in a dark body (black, blue, brown or grey).
Its great deth of colour and large pattern make it particularly prized and valuable.
Light Opal Is also classified as a solid opal. A full range of colours swirls and flashes in the depths of a light opal. The background colour may be white or light blue.
Light crystal opal is translucent and shows colours sharp and visible below the surface. When clear and colourless, this form is referred to as 'water' or 'jelly' opal. Light opal has a lighter background while semi-black opal has grey colour tones.
Coober Pedy, Andamooka and Mintabie in South Australia are the most productive mines for light opal.
This opal is distinguished by the presence of host brown rock, usually ironstone, on the back of the opal; and is found almost exclusively in Queensland.
Boulder opal is also classified as solid opal. It occurs as thin veins of precious opal in the cracks and cavities of light and dark brown ironstone boulders in Queensland. The opal flowed into the cracks and fissures in the boulders in liquid form millions of years ago. With the passing of centuries, the liquid material formed into solid opal and now miners cut these stones into magnificent pieces with the natural host rock left on the back.
Boulder opal can be found in many different forms and colours: its surface can be smooth or uneven, with the opal occurring as a solid piece on top of the ironstone or showing as flashing flecks of colour throughout the ironstone (known as matrix opal).
There are also the famous nut opals, known as 'Yowah-nuts' and unique to Queensland. These smaller ironstone concretions up to 5cm across may host a kernel of solid opal or contain a network of thin veins of opal through the ironstone. The best development of this variety of opal is at Yowah, hence the name 'Yowah-nuts'.
Boulder opals are fashioned to standard shapes and sizes but are mostly cut in freeform shapes to highlight their individual beauty and to avoid unnecessary wastage.