Whilst 95% of the Worlds Opal has been discovered in Australia to date, some stunning opals have been found in a district called Welo in Ethiopian, North Africa. The landscape of Ethiopia is absolutely stunning and offers some of the most beautiful views in the world. Ethiopian Opals are just as beautiful to match this incredible place. These opals are very distinct looking and have only just been recently discovered in 1994. They are crystal and milky white type opals (precious opal), fire opal and black opal and often showcase high levels of brightness, colors and unique color patterns such as honeycomb and rolling shimmers. These opals are often used in princess ring designs where a circular floating angelic ring of small diamonds is cast around the outside of the center opal piece. These rings are very popular as they offer a unique and modern look in ring design. When buying an Ethiopian Opal, a person should never buy or judge any of these opals just by a photo. One must see a video or in person as the unique color plays and patterns can be better examined. Ethiopian Opals are not only stunning, but are generally more affordable than similar sized and bright Australian opals; making them an increasingly popular choice for jewelers. Jewelers also often use Ethiopian opal in faceting designs, as well as in cabochon designs and opal carvings. Ethiopian Opal bead necklaces are also a popular choice of jewelry, and are often sold as souvenirs to tourists of Ethiopia as they are worn by local tribes in some areas.
Unlike Australian Opals that formed from a sea bed of water that covered the inland of the continent (the artisan basin), Ethiopian Opals are formed by volcanic activity. These opals are mined high up in the hills in Ethiopia (among some volcanos) apposed to deep underground, well below sea level in Australia. They are very difficult to mine as the conditions in Ethiopia are dry and the terrain is unstable. A pure volcanic opal, often associated with Ethiopian Opals has the technical name of being a hydrophane opal. These opals are often sticky to touch, and change with different climates. The soak up a lot of water, and also dry out a lot of water in different climates. Therefor the purchaser should be aware that the color, brightness and patterns of their Ethiopian opal may change when in different parts of the world. This makes these opals very magical and very special to own. There are also non-hydrophone Ethiopian Opals that do not change with climate. The ones found to date however are less spectacular as the hydrophane opals. Be aware that some people have treated Ethiopian opals to enhance the color. This is done by use of dye, smoking, heating or sugar/acid treating. It is therefor ideal to seek certifications with any Ethiopian opals purchased so you know exactly what you are purchasing. Ethiopian Opal is becoming increasingly popular, and may soon become an important challenger to the all dominated Australian opal market.