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About Lightning Ridge

History of Lightning Ridge

Located in north-western New South Wales, Australia, Lightning Ridge is a small outback town near the southern border of Queensland, approximately six kilometers east of the Castlereagh Highway. After World War I, the New South Wales Lands Department renamed it Lightning Ridge from Warrangulla. Globally renowned for mining black opals and other opal gemstones. Legend has it that the name originates from the 1870s when a farmer, his dog, and 600 sheep were all killed by lightning. However, this is likely an outback myth. The region, situated inland, experiences spectacular lightning storms frequently.

Formation of Opals in Lightning Ridge

The town hosts a famous opal and gem show annually, attracting visitors from all over the world. Lightning Ridge is an important paleontological site, with fossils dating back to the Cretaceous period, 110 million years ago. The sandstone rock once formed the bottom of a shallow inland sea, where the remains of aquatic plants and animals were preserved. Remarkably, the site serves as a significant source of fossils of ancient mammals. At that time, these were small creatures inhabiting a world dominated by dinosaurs. The fossils are sometimes opalised and discovered by opal miners. Important discoveries at Lightning Ridge include the ancestral monotremes Kollikodon ritchiei and Steropodon galmani.

Types of Opals Found in Lightning Ridge

Black Opal, the rarest type of Opal, primarily occurs in only a few places worldwide, with Lightning Ridge in NSW, Australia, being the primary location. However, some miners have discovered it in Mintabie and other small mine sites. Black Opal is non transparent. If you shine light onto it you will not be able to see through the Opal. It is made up of potch and magnificent colours and patterns. Due to its rarity and exceptional beauty, Black Opal commands the highest prices among all Opal varieties. Purchased for investment, jewelry making, or as cherished souvenirs of Australia, Black Opal’s allure lies in its vibrant play of colors, despite the name suggesting otherwise. Some of the brightest and most beautiful opals are Black Opals. The term simply refers to the body tone of the stone.

Dark Opal, found in the same region as Black Opal. It has a dark body tone but not dark enough to be classified as a Black Opal. 

Lightning Ridge has also yielded Crystal and White Opals from its mining endeavors. Some of these opals showcase remarkable spectacles and are distinguished as crystal grade, contrasting with those discovered in Coober Pedy. Particular Crystal Opals exhibit dark body tones, known as dark or black crystal opals. These are semi-transparent crystals with a very dark or black interior.

Available Lightning Ridge Opals

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