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Why Opals Are Everyone’s Favourite Australian Gemstones

In Opals
15 Mar 2021 | No Comments

The best-quality opals come from Australia. We provide 90%-95% of the world’s precious opals, sourcing out large deposits in Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs, New South Wales; Quilpie, Yowah and Winton districts in Queensland; and in Mintabie, Coober Pedy and Andamooka, South Australia. As such, opals are considered a national symbol representing the country’s culture and history.

Opal as a National Symbol

On 27 July 1993, the Honourable William (Bill) George Hayden AC declared opal as Australia’s national gemstone. Known for their brilliant colours, these Australian gemstones can be found in Australia’s opal fields that are larger than that of the rest of the world’s opal fields combined. We are also home to many discoveries of valuable opals. We have the world’s finest uncut opal called the Fire of Australia. Australian scientists also developed the first synthetic opal, which makes access to this stone easier. With the popularity of these Australian gemstones, the Australian Women’s basketball team in 1994 used the nickname ‘The Opals.’

Set-Apart Australian Gemstones

Dark or black opal, boulder opal, white or light opal, matrix opal and even those without a display of colour or potch can be found in Australia. Also, it is the only place in the world with opalised animal and plant fossils. Among the Australian gemstones, black opal is the most sought-after piece because of its infinite display of colours.

Highly Regarded Opals

Opals are widely used in ornaments and jewellery, and they are very much valued. The word opal originates from the Sanskrit word úpala, which means valuable stone. The term is fitting for a gem that can display an array of colour and different transparencies. 

Rare black opals feature a dark background that contrasts the brilliant colours flashing on their body tones. White opals have light backgrounds and pale colours on them. This type can appear to be milky white. Boulder opals are often cut with their host rocks as their natural backing.

Distinct Properties of Opal

The value of an opal depends on its body tone, colour pattern and colour play. Opals can have dark or light backgrounds or be intimately distributed in the host rock. They can be translucent or opaque. These precious stones differ in their mineral compositions and no two opals are alike. However, a commonality among them is that they contain up to 20% of water, which can influence their colour change, but also make them brittle.

What makes these Australian gemstones truly exceptional is that they display brilliant colours that change, depending on the angle that they are held at. They can have rainbow-like colour splashes on them. The arrangement of the silica spheres in opals and the gaps between these particles allow these stones to scatter light like a prism. This is called light diffraction. Light diffraction splits white light into a broad spectrum of colours, causing a magnificent display of hues on the stone’s face.

Get a portable and priceless investment that can be handed down to generations after you. Choose one-of-a-kind Australian gemstones from Vollé Jewellery’s extensive and rarest collection. Call 02 9269 0898 to see for yourself.

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