Opal is a gemstone prized for its play of color, which is caused by the interference and diffraction of light as it passes through tiny spheres of silica. The history of opal and opal production can be traced back thousands of years, and it has played an important role in the cultures and economies of many countries.
The first known opal mines were in what is now Slovakia, where opals were mined as early as 4000 BCE. Opal was also known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who valued it for its beauty and believed it had healing powers. The Romans called it "opalus," which means "precious stone," and it was a popular stone for jewelry and decorative objects.
During the Middle Ages, opal fell out of favor in Europe, partly because of its association with witchcraft and bad luck. It wasn't until the 19th century that opal became popular again, thanks in part to the discovery of large deposits in Australia.
Australia is now the world's leading producer of opal, with most of the production coming from the town of Coober Pedy in South Australia. Opal was first discovered in Coober Pedy in 1915, and the town quickly became a hub of opal mining and production. Today, Coober Pedy is known as the "opal capital of the world" and attracts visitors from around the globe. In addition to Coober Pedy, there are other opal mining towns in Australia such as Lightning Ridge in New South Wales and Mintabie in South Australia. While the opal industry has faced challenges in recent years due to competition from synthetic opals and a decrease in demand, it remains an important source of income for many people in these towns and continues to attract tourists from around the world.
In addition to Australia, opal is also found in other countries, including Ethiopia, Mexico, and Brazil. Each location produces opals with unique characteristics and colors, and opals are often named after their place of origin.
Opal mining and production is a challenging and dangerous industry, as the opals are often found in underground mines or in remote locations. Miners must use heavy machinery and explosives to extract the opals, and they must be skilled in identifying where the opals are likely to be found. Once the opals are extracted, they are cut and polished to bring out their color and beauty.
Opal is a highly valued gemstone, and the price can vary widely depending on the quality and rarity of the stone. The most valuable opals are those with a bright, multicolored play of color, known as "black opals." This amazing black opal is a favourite of ours, it displays incredible play of colour giving us the 'flagstone' effect. Its loose and weights over 15ct. Other factors that can affect the value of an opal include its size, shape, and clarity.
Lightning Ridge Black Opal
Opals have been used for centuries in jewelry and decorative objects, and they continue to be popular today. In addition to their beauty, opals are also believed to have healing and spiritual properties. Some people believe that wearing or carrying an opal can enhance creativity, boost confidence, and promote emotional balance.
In conclusion, the history of opal and opal production is a long and fascinating one. From ancient times to the present day, opal has been valued for its beauty, rarity, and mystical properties. Although opal mining and production can be challenging and dangerous, the lure of these precious stones continues to draw people to remote locations around the world.
View some of our current opal jewellery in stock.
Edwardian Andamooka Heart Opal Ring
Antique Crystal Opal & Diamond En Tremblant Pendant