Determining an opal's value is something that can really only be done by an expert. It takes years of experience analysing thousands of opals and selling them to customers. But, if I had to narrow it down, it is truly essential to know these three things:
Technically speaking, there are a series of traits that each stone must be assessed for before the opal's value can be determined. These traits are:
After each of these traits have been assessed, it is then time to think about the opal's potential "Wow Factor".
To describe an opal's "Wow Factor", I often compare opals to artwork. Artwork is a good comparison because, just like artwork, all opals are unique. Some artwork is incredible and deeply moving, while some are uninspiring and boring. Some artworks may be sold for millions of dollars, while some cannot even be given away. In a nutshell, a quality opal with a high "Wow Factor" is like a famous masterpiece such as the Mona Lisa.
To take the art analogy one step further in helping to understand an opal's value, i'll give you this example. Imagine that you have a parcel of classic solid (type one) opal, and that all the opals in the parcel have a similar body tone. Think of the parcels as you would all of the works from a particular artistic movement. Each artwork in the movement is valued in comparison to one another, as well as on the fineness of their individual features ("Wow Factor" and "Opal Traits"). This example can be used for every opal type and tone.
Finally, after the traits and "Wow Factor" have been duly assessed, a price per carat is worked out. The price per carat is multiplied by the weight of the stone to determine the opal's final retail value. Of course, no value is definitive. The same opal may be valued slightly differently by several different opal experts. It is a challenging process that always comes back to the amount of experience the valuator has with opals. In the end, what truly matters is the personal value a customer places on the opal they are in possession of.
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