Opals are vibrant gemstones that are indeed a sight to behold. Their enchanting play of colors has captured the hearts of collectors and jewelry enthusiasts alike. But have you ever wondered what gives these eye-catching stones their value? Let’s dive into the dazzling world of opals and unearth the factors contributing to their price and worth.
You may have heard the saying, “A diamond is forever,” but we reckon opals deserve a place in the spotlight too. Opals boast a kaleidoscope of hues that dance and shimmer, making them a unique and captivating choice for those searching for something out of the ordinary. Their extraordinary color play sets them apart from other gems and gives them their intrinsic value.
But it’s not just about the colors. Opals come in various shapes and sizes, and factors like rarity, origin, and overall quality also influence their worth. It’s a bit of a mixed bag when pricing these gems, but that makes the chase all the more exciting!
Get ready to embark on a journey through the mesmerizing realm of opals. After reading this article, you’ll know precisely what makes these precious stones worth every penny!
What Opals Are
Opal is a gemstone composed primarily of silica and water, known for their striking iridescence and color play. These unique and captivating stones are formed when silica-rich water seeps into cracks and cavities in rocks, eventually solidifying and creating the mesmerizing patterns that characterize these alluring gems.
A breakdown of opal pricing per color can be found below. Although these aren’t the only colors, they are frequently the most prevalent due to the numerous trace elements in different opal types.
Black opal is a rare and highly sought-after variety, featuring a dark body color that enhances the stone’s vivid play of colors. Its mysterious and dramatic appearance sets it apart from other opals, with vibrant hues that seem to dance and shimmer against the dark backdrop.
Often originating from Lightning Ridge, Australia, these stunning gemstones are prized for their unique beauty, making them an exquisite choice for statement jewelry pieces and treasured heirlooms.
How much is a black opal worth
Black opals are usually the most expensive and sell for $10 – $20,000 per carat.
White opals, sometimes called light or milky opals, are more commonly known for their delicate, pearly white, or translucent body color. They showcase a subtle play of colors, with iridescent flashes of pastel hues such as blue, pink, and green, which seem to dance across the stone’s surface.
Originating predominantly from Australia, white opals offer a more affordable yet elegant option for those seeking the enchanting charm of opal gemstones.
How much is a white opal worth
White opals sit quite expensively in cost. On average, it sells between $10 – $6,000 per carat.
Fire opals, also known as Mexican opals, are a captivating variety characterized by their vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, reminiscent of a flickering flame. While they may not always display the characteristic play of colors seen in other opal varieties, their fiery hues make them stand out.
Typically found in Mexico, these mesmerizing gemstones are perfect for those who desire a bold, eye-catching stone that exudes warmth, passion, and a touch of exotic allure.
How much is a fire opal worth
Fire opal comes in various qualities. Typically, prices range from $10 – $300 per carat.
Blue opals are a visually striking variety, prized for their rich and vivid blue hues, often accompanied by captivating green undertones. The play of colors in these stones can resemble a tranquil underwater scene or a serene sky, giving them a uniquely refreshing and calming appeal.
Sourced mainly from Peru and Australia, blue opals make a distinctive choice for those who appreciate the beauty of opal gemstones and desire a piece that exudes an air of tranquility.
How much is a blue opal worth
Blue opals are usually very affordable. Its price range is typically from $1 – $250 per carat.
Why Opal Is So Expensive
Opals have long been cherished for their remarkable beauty, making them one of the most valued gemstones in the world. The allure of these unique stones lies in their enchanting play of colors, which exhibits a mesmerizing dance of vibrant hues that seem to shift and shimmer with every movement. This phenomenon, known as opalescence, captivates onlookers and sets opals apart from other precious stones, contributing to their respected status.
Opals also boast a rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations that revered these gems for their supposed mystical powers and symbolism. In ancient Rome, opals were believed to represent hope and purity, while some Aboriginal cultures in Australia, where the majority of the world’s opals are found, considered the stones to be the tears of the gods or the embodiment of their ancestors’ spirits. The stories and beliefs surrounding opals further enhance their intrigue and allure.
In addition to their striking beauty and storied past, opals are valued for their rarity and diversity. Each opal is a one-of-a-kind gem with a unique pattern and combination of colors, giving them a personalized appeal. Some opal varieties, such as black opals, are scarce, making them all the more coveted among collectors and enthusiasts.
How To Determine The Value Of Opals
The opal’s background color, or darkness, can range from light to dark. Generally, black opals with a dark body tone are the most valuable due to their rarity and vivid play of colors.
Play of color
The spectrum of colors exhibited by the opal and the pattern in which they appear. Opals with a vibrant and varied play of colors, such as reds, blues, and greens, typically command higher prices.
The arrangement of colors within the opal can also impact its value. Unique, striking patterns like a harlequin, floral, or ribbon are often considered more desirable and valuable.
Clarity and transparency
The opal’s degree of transparency and the absence of inclusions or imperfections can influence its price. A more apparent stone with minimal marks generally fetches a higher price.
More significant, high-quality opals are relatively rare and often more valuable. However, the price per carat may not always increase linearly with the size of the stone, as other factors like color and clarity can also play a role.
Cut and shape
Opals that are well-cut and symmetrical, with a polished surface that maximizes the stone’s play of color, can demand higher prices. Unusual or custom cuts can also impact the cost of the opal.
The source of the opal can play a role in its value. For example, Lightning Ridge, Australia’s black opals are highly prized for their quality and rarity, often commanding premium prices.
Opal Price By Type
Knowing the factors can help you determine Opal’s worth and cost. The most popular opal types, colors, and prices are shown here.
Opal values by color
|Color||Location||Price (Per Carat)|
|Black Opal||Australia||$10 – $20,000|
|White Opal||Australia||$10 – $6,000|
|Fire Opal||Mexico||$10 – $300|
|Blue Opal||Peru||$1 – $250|
Many colors and varieties of opal range widely in price and worth. Let’s determine the cost of opal in different units.
Opal pricing by unit of measurement
|A carat of opal||$1 – $20,000|
|A gram of opal||$5 – $100,000|
|An ounce of opal||$140 – $2,834,950|
|A kilogram of opal||$5,000 – $100,000,000|
|A pound of opal||$2,270 – $45,359,200|
|A ton of opal||$4,535,950 – $90,718,500,000|
The Most Expensive Opal
The most expensive opal ever sold is the Flame Queen Opal, an extraordinary opal renowned for its striking and unique beauty. Discovered in 1914 at the famous Lightning Ridge mining area in New South Wales, Australia, this exquisite gemstone weighs approximately 263 carats. The Flame Queen Opal is highly valued for its breathtaking harlequin pattern, with large patches of vibrant red, blue, and green colors that create a mesmerizing effect reminiscent of flickering flames.
The opal’s stunning pattern and intense play of colors make it an exceptional example of a black opal, one of the most sought-after and valuable types. The Flame Queen Opal’s rarity and beauty have garnered significant attention and admiration from gemstone enthusiasts, collectors, and historians.
The record-breaking Flame Queen opal sale occurred in 1980 when it was sold for $1 million to a private customer through David Callaghan through Christie’s. The amount is equivalent to around $3.4 million today!
How To Get An Appraisal On Your Opal
Find a competent gemstone or jewelry appraiser to get an appraisal for any opal item. Ensure that the appraiser you choose has the credentials and experience in appraising opals.
Contact the appraiser to set up an appointment to evaluate your opal. Be prepared to provide information about the gemstone’s origin, type, and any previous appraisals or documentation you may have.
Clean your opal gently using a soft cloth or brush and mild soapy water. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they may damage the stone. Bring any relevant paperwork, such as certificates of authenticity, purchase receipts, or prior appraisals, to the appointment.
During the appraisal, the expert will closely examine your opal, considering factors such as size, color, clarity, overall quality, and the market demand for similar gemstones. The appraiser may use specialized tools, such as a microscope, loupe, or refractometer, to accurately assess your opal’s characteristics.
Once the appraisal is complete, the expert will provide a written report detailing your opal’s value, characteristics, and any relevant information about the stone.