Australian Opal Stone Overview
Opals obtained from Australia are known commonly as Australian Opals. These make up 95% of the world’s supply; unique geological formations in Australia have favored the construction of these sedimentary stones.
Australian Opals consist of Black, White, Boulder, and Matrix Opals. The rarest of these is the Black Opals, with their highest value. Australia is one of the most significant sources of Black Opals.
Although there are many other kinds of opals in Australia, only these four varieties are commonly known as Australian Opals because they can be found in large numbers there.
This article details the Australian Opal gemstone’s properties, meanings, and uses.
Source and Formation
The most significant source of Australian Opals is the Great Artesian Basin. About 140 million years ago, an inland sea abundant with silica-rich sands covered much of central Australia. The waters eventually receded to form the Great Artesian Basin we know today.
About 30 to 40 million years ago, heavy weathering began dissolving the silica in volcanic rocks. However, the holes that were formed continued to collect water enriched with dissolved silicates—which eventually created opals as they accumulated over time.
Though the Great Artesian Basin is large, it contains only a few areas that produce quality opal.
Opals have been prized for thousands of years. However, it was rare in antiquity and known only from the limited sources found near Roman-occupied Slovakia until vast deposits were discovered in Australia during the 19th century. Today it is considered a national gemstone in Australia—where most opals are mined.
The world’s most significant and most valuable Australian Opal, known as “Olympic Australis,” was found in August 1956 at the “Eight Mile” opal field in Coober Pedy. It weighs 17,000 carats—more than any other stone of its kind.
The history of opals in Australia can be traced back to the early 1800s when a German mineralogist Johannes Menge explored precious stones and discovered Opal at Angaston in 1841. After the initial discovery of Opal in Australia, explorers turned their attention to central outback Queensland, where they found new deposits at Listowel Downs Station in 1869.
Tully Cornwaith Wollaston, who traveled to the central Queensland fields in 1889, was the father of Australia’s opal industry. He first succeeded in marketing Australian boulder opals there later that year and marketed White Cliffs—also from his home country —in 1890.
Where are They found?
They are mined in the following regions:
- Fire Opals: Fire opal, named for its orange hue, exhibits many body colors, including reds and yellows. Most fire opals are milky or turbid rather than transparent; the best quality specimens are clear with slight internal cloudiness. They’re susceptible to stress— cracking under pressure like hairline fractures in concrete when they should be flowing —and so do not lend themselves easily to faceting. The orange to red color is caused by microscopic to sub-microscopic inclusions of iron hydrous oxides.
- Black Opals: Black Opal is a type of Precious Opal with dark gray, dark blue, or dark green background color. Deep black is not usually found, so it is pretty valuable. Synthetic Black Opals are created by darkening light-colored common opals.
- White Opals: White Opals are also known as crystal opals. These light opals have transparent or semi-transparent bodies with a strong play of color over a vitreous surface. Water opal is sometimes confused with crystal opal, but the former has more transparency than clarity.
- Matrix Opals: Matrix opals consist of masses of tiny cracks filled with precious Opal that is trapped inside a dark brown ironstone matrix.
- Boulder Opals: Boulder Opal, also a Precious Opal, was first discovered in Queensland, Australia, in 1869. It is a type of Opal that has been embedded into the sandstone matrix and routinely cut along with it to make unique jewelry pieces with no two alike. It occurs as patches, seams, blobs, or thin veins in ironstone concretions. These opals have white gold or yellow gold coloration.
The physical properties of Australian Opals are as follows:
|Formula||SiO2 · nH2O|
|Chemical name||Amorphous Silica|
|Hardness (Mohs scale)||5.5 – 6.5|
|Refractive Index||1.37 – 1.47|
|Specific Gravity||1.97- 2.22|
|Transparency||Transparent, Translucent, Opaque|
Cost and Value
Since these opals include a multitude of different varieties, the cost can fluctuate a lot. Usually, the price depends on the following factors:
- Size: Price increases drastically with an increase in size as larger stones are harder to find and more difficult to cut.
- Color: The color of the Opal plays a significant role in determining its cost and value.
- Inclusions: The presence of inclusions is another factor that influences the price. In the case of any other gemstone, inclusions reduce the overall value, but since inclusions are a significant characteristic of the Australian Opal beauty, thus they increase the overall cost.
- Cut: The cut of a gemstone also affects its price. As with all fine jewelry, the quality of the amount determines how beautiful and valuable it will be. The cut can make a massive difference in the price of specific stones.
- Type: The type of the Opal heavily influences the cost of the gemstone. Since some gems are rare and have a higher demand than others, they fetch a premium price tag. Black and Fire Opals are usually the priciest of all the Australian Opals.
How do you tell if They are Real or Not?
Australian Opals are often confused with Ethiopian Opals. However, they can be differentiated based on their color and composition. Australian opals have a rich, colorful fire that flashes on both sides of the stone, while Ethiopian opals exhibit less intense and unstable flame. As a hydrophane, Ethiopian Opals lose their fire when it absorbs water in the humid seasons. However, Australian Opals contain enough moisture naturally and remain unchanged even as it evaporates.
You should always check the authenticity of the stone that you are buying before making the purchase. Some methods to check whether the stones you have are fake opals or not are as follows:
Which Chaka Does It Represent?
They are said to represent the Third Eye Chakra. This chakra is related to clairvoyance, intuition, and psychic abilities. It’s also associated with dreaming, visions, and creativity.
They are also connected to the Solar Plexus chakra. These opals help us to find our inner strength and can be used for healing issues related to the stomach area.
Furthermore, they are said to have a faint connection to the Heart Chakra as well. The Heart Chakra is located in the center of the chest. It is associated with love, compassion, and emotional balance. When this chakra is open, you will be able to feel unconditional love for yourself and others.
What do They Symbolize?
Australian Opals symbolize the following:
- Dreams, Wishes, and Hopes: Australian Opals are said to represent dreams and wishes. They can help you to realize your dreams and make them come true. Double opal rings are often used for engagement rings for this very reason.
- Love: Australian Opals are associated with love, passion, and affection. They have been used as wedding rings for centuries because they symbolize the perfect union between two people who share a deep bond of love and friendship.
- The ability to see into the Future: Australian Opals are said to have the ability to see into the future. They can help you predict what will happen and prepare for it so you’re ready when things happen.
- Protection from Negative Energy: Australian Opals are said to protect you from negative energy. They are also said to protect against bad luck, often worn as jewelry or placed on altars or tables in homes. This is why Australian Opal jewelry is so common.
- Courage, Strength, and Determination: Australian Opals are said to bring strength, courage, and determination to those who wear them. They can also help you find the inner strength you need to accomplish your goals in life.
- Giving someone an Australian Opal as a gift means that they will always be there for them.
Which Birthstone Is Australian Opal?
Australian Opal is not specifically a birthstone. However, its parent stone, the Opal, is the October birthstone. Therefore, the Australian Opal stone experiences a surge of efficacy during that month.
Australian Opal Uses
Australian Opals have the following uses:
- The Australian Opal gemstones are used in jewelry such as rings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, cabochons, and earrings. Due to their beautiful color and luster, they are a popular gemstone. This makes them one of the most valuable types of Opal. They are also used in art projects.
- It is also used for decorative purposes. They are used to make ornaments, such as vases. They are also used as decorative stones for buildings and monuments.
- Opal pendants are also used in meditation and other practices. Australian Opals are used to cleanse the body, mind, and soul. They are thought to encourage communication between people with different backgrounds and cultures. The Australian Opals are believed to be an excellent healing stone that can help with wounds, physical pain, and emotional trauma. It is said that these stones can help those who suffer from insomnia or nightmares because of their calming properties.
- Rough Opals enhance the wearer’s intuition and psychic abilities. They are also believed to stimulate creativity and imagination. The stones are said to help with decision-making as well as communication skills.
- Australian Opal cabochons are thought to boost your energy level, stamina, and endurance. They can also be used to improve the health of the circulatory system. The Australian Opals are believed to help with fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation issues. They are said to be suitable for those who suffer from infertility or miscarriage.
- They have been used to celebrate important events and rituals, heal wounds, inspire creativity, and aid in meditation.
- Opals are considered to be feminine stones, and women should wear them. They are also an excellent gift for someone who is just starting or has recently graduated from school.
How to Clean Australian Opals?
The usual household cleaning method includes the following steps:
- Soak in lukewarm soapy water for 15 – 30 minutes until the dirt and stains loosen up.
- Please remove any remaining residues with a soft toothbrush until it appears spotless.
- Use a gentle dishwasher detergent or baby shampoo solution in case the stains do not come off. You can also use baking soda as an alternative to dishwasher detergent.
- Wipe the gemstone with a microfiber cloth until it is smooth and lustrous.
- Cleanse it using burning sage to remove any negativity absorbed, which can negatively impact the surroundings.
- Recharge it using the moon’s light or burying it underground, whichever method suits you.
Be sure to cleanse the Australian Opal before you use it. It will help you stay energized and keep negative energies at bay.
Australian Opal should be protected from household chemicals and extreme heat exposure, which may cause damage or alterations in coloration. Most ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are safe to use, but it’s recommended that you do so with caution. Australian Opal jewelry is stored in a fabric-lined container separate from other jewelry pieces.
Are Australian Opals Valuable?
Yes, Australian opal can range from $10 – 6,000 per carat. Some exceptional beautiful pieces may be worth as much as $10K/ct.
What is the most expensive Opal?
Black Opal is the most valuable and popular type of Opal, accounting for around 5% of all sales. It is found at Lightning Ridge in Northern NSW—it has a black base caused by iron oxide impurities that make it appear to be ‘black.’
What other crystals can be paired with Australian Opals?
Smoky Quartz or Black Tourmaline can be paired with it. Other minerals like Turquoise, Andalusite, or Lapis Lazuli are also good choices. Other types of Opal, such as the Blue opal, make a beautiful combination when worn together with the Boulder Opal, which has white gold or yellow gold coloration.
How can Australian Opals be charged?
Australian Opal can be charged by placing it in the sun or moonlight. You can also set it near a salt lamp or Feng Shui water fountain.
are Australian Opals associated with any health risks?
No information on health risks for this material is currently known. However, it would be best if you always carefully treat mineral specimens.
What is the most expensive Australian Opal?
The “Olympic Australis” is considered to be the world’s largest and most valuable gem opal. It was found in 1956 at the famous “Eight Mile” field in Coober Pedy, South Australia.