Compelling Black Opal

Australia's Guide to Collecting Nature's Masterpiece

As we dive into the captivating world of gemology, we stumble upon an exceptionally rare and valuable gemstone – the black opal. Much about the black opal is mysterious and diverse, and it's that uniqueness that makes them worthy of every collector's attention.

Black opal hails from Australia, most natural black opal originates from the isolated, seemingly barren region of Lightning Ridge (a small portion also forms in Mintabie SA and even Coober Pedy) It’s here that prospectors and enthusiasts chase mineral-infused seams and pockets deep within the oxidised sandstone, hoping to uncover these gemstones of extraordinary value and beauty. I often get asked how opals are valued. Well, black opals are the very difficult, second only after valuing boulder opal (the most difficult of all) . I have written an article here to help explain how much is black opal and how it is valued.

If you would like to know the difference between Black Opal vs White Opal Click here

The distinguishing factor of black opal, as the name suggests, comes from its black body tone (black shading under the play of colour), dramatically opposing the vast array of luminous colours hidden within. An enchanting dance of reds, greens, blues, and gold fascinate anyone who casts their eye upon it.

Black opals show an array of colours depending on the angle you hold them. This play-of-colour, as gemmologists aptly call it, is due to the unique formation process. Silica spheres stacked on top of one-another, this stacking up in a 3D grid, catch light and fracture it into captivating rainbows.

Value determination for black opal is an art form in itself. Professional gem graders consider the body tone, brilliance, pattern, and colour bar thickness in addition to the regular factors of size, cut, and clarity. With such intricate details, acquiring a black opal becomes a personal journey. 

The most important combination when it comes to Black opal is the following in this order... brightness, closely followed by pattern and to have a strong dominate red colour. 

A black opal ring is a wonderful option and looks so good when on the hand. Black opal rings are deserving of the most treasured moments in one's life.

In designing a black opal ring, it's crucial to remember that each black opal is a piece of art crafted by nature itself, and valuable and needs to have a setting that showcases the opal but also protects it! For example unless the opal is very small we nearly always recommend 6 claws (prongs) to hold the opal.  

Black opal jewellery extends beyond merely engagement rings. It's a fabulous choice for anyone seeking a unique piece of statement jewellery. A black opal necklace, pendant, or earrings can elevate an everyday outfit or complement a black-tie ensemble.

Caring for a black opal is fairly straightforward. Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals or hard knocks. This gentle care preserves the lustre and captivating colour-play that the gemstone is loved for.

As the popularity of black opals increases, unfortunately, so do the instances of fake or artificially treated opals flooding the market. It's crucial to buy black opal only from certified dealers who provide necessary documentation. Treated black opals from Ethiopia are the biggest risk. Because they look natural. But most Australian Opal dealers can tell the difference fairly quickly. One of the easiest way is to put the opal under a blue light. If these is no fluorescent or phosphorescence then it is probably no Australian. Why is this an issue? Because something that is treated has a much lower demand therefore value.  

Remember, the most valuable black opal exhibits a brightly coloured, compelling pattern on a black body tone, and usually has a domed cabochon cut that enhances the colour display.

Collecting black opal is an addictive pursuit. Once you hold your first piece and see the colours glittering and dancing across the depth of the stone, you'll understand why it has been so loved throughout the ages.

There are fascinating tales and legends surrounding the black opal as well. It has been called the "gemstone of the Southern Cross" and "Australia's National Gemstone."

Black opals have captured the imagination of writers, artists, and gem-lovers across the globe. Its popularity not only lies in its beauty but also in the stories and myths that have grown around it.

Each black opal is unique, and owning one feels like you're in possession of a personalized piece of the cosmos, a slice of the rainbow captured and held still for you to marvel at.

A black opal's worth extends beyond its market value. Owning a black opal isn’t just about having a precious stone but possessing a unique piece of nature, millions of years in the making.

"Let's make sure that when you buy your black opal, you do it right the first time by learning all there is to know about it,” is a fitting sentiment for anyone considering an acquisition.

So whether it's the surfacing of a new black opal vein in the ridge, the crafting of a custom black opal ring, or any other aspect of these magical gemstones, I hope your black opal journey is as enchanting as the stone itself. Here's to your very own slice of the rainbow!

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