Opal mining – All Opals are unique. They are a one and only gemstone. From one opal to the next; you will never find another identical to each other. There are many different types of opals though that come from different regions in Australia, and the World that you can differentiate between. Some of the more famous mine sites in Australia include Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy, Winton, Koroit, Yowah and Mintabie. Opals have also been discovered in Ethiopia (Welo Opal), Mexico (Fire Opal) and other parts of the world too. Nothing compares however to Australian Opal; it is by far the most prized and sought after opal in the world!
Different Opals for different Jewelry
Different opal mining sites offer different colors, patterns and unique attributes. They are often used by different jewelers for different pieces of jewelry. Some examples of this include:
Coober Pedy is a mining town in central South Australia. Coober Pedy Crystal Opal – Coober Pedy Crystal is often cut and polished into stunning pieces ideal for necklaces, rings, earrings and other types of jewelry. Coober Pedy Crystal Opal may be the most used opal in jewelry making around the world as Crystal is in very high demand. Crystal Opal has a lot of different color variations and patterns that are all truely stunning in their own right. Coober Pedy is also the main source of White Opal. White Opal is a non transparent Crystal Opal. It has a thick pattern and colors making it non-see thru – meaning these Opals are more valuable and used more in high end jewelry.
Lightning Ridge is another major opal mining site in New South Wales, Australia. Lightning Ridge is known for its black opal, however Crystal Opal is also found here. Lightning Ridge Black Opal is used in high end jewelry. It is by far the most expensive opal in the world as it offers the most unique, colour rich patterns out of all the Opals found. Lightning Ridge Crystal Opal is also highly valued, and often used for high end jewelry pieces as well. In general, Lightning Ridge Crystal Opal is more valued than Coober Pedy Crystal Opal due to its differentiation in colour and patterns and its rarity.
Queensland Opal mine sites are well known for boulder opal. Boulder Opal has more earthy feel and look, and is therefor often used in pendant making. Boulder Opal is found in mine sites such as Koroit, Winton and Yowah. There is a type of Boulder Opal known as Crystal Boulder Opal; it has a mix of crystal and rock and is a high trending type of opal in 2018. It is being used by wire wrap jewellers as well as for pendant necklace making and in unique ring and earing jewelry pieces.
Aside from these types of opals, there is also doublet opals. These are often used by jewelers as they are cheaper than buying full pieces. Doublets are a double layer of backing stuck on a thin shell top. The doublet will still look the same as a black opal when looking front on, however you can see it is stuck if you look at it from the side. Doublets make black opal more affordable for retail buyers and jewelers alike.
Ethiopian Opals are often used in Princess Rings. Princess rings have the stone centred as the main stunning display piece with a floating diamond halo around the outside. Ethiopian Opals can also be used in earings and necklace designs.