Types of Australian Opal

AUSTRALIAN BLACK OPAL

Found primarily at Lightning Ridge (600km north-west of Sydney, N.S.W.), this variety of opal is widely regarded as the most valuable type, due to its dark body tone which intern displays the Opal colour ‘extra bright’. High quality black opal is extremely rare, with at least 90% of opal mined being colourless and worthless.

AUSTRALIAN WHITE/CRYSTAL OPAL

70% of the world’s opal is mined in the South Australian fields of Coober Pedy, Andamooka and Mintabie. White opal has a natural milky/white or translucent appearance and at its highest quality, shows all the bright vibrant colours of the rainbow. The translucent variety are known as ‘crystal opal’ and are generally the most expensive to buy.

AUSTRALIAN BOULDER OPAL

Found in south-west and central Queensland, this variety of opal forms in the thin cavities of ironstone rocks. So when polished to reveal its beauty, it still retains the host rock on the underside of the gem. Therefore it is generally dark in appearance, similar to the black opal. This makes it easy to identify boulder opal, along with its unusual shapes and undulating surfaces.

AUSTRALIAN OPAL MINES

COOBER PEDY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Located 846 km north of Adelaide, Coober Pedy has over seventy opal fields and is the largest opal mining area in the world. The name ‘Coober Pedy’ comes from the local Aboriginal term ‘kupa-piti’, which means ‘boys’ waterhole’. It is often referred to as the ‘opal capital of the world’ due to the quantity of precious opals that are mined there.

LIGHTNING RIDGE, NEW SOUTH WALES

The Lightning Ridge area is a world-renowned centre for mining the rarest black opals. Lightning Ridge is an important paleontological site, with fossils dating back 110 million years ago.

QUEENSLAND FIELDS

Home of boulder opal, which has become more widely known by consumers and collectors for its patterns and exceptional play of colours. Its unique structural relationship with Ironstone and its host rocks is the reason for its vein style formation.