What makes an opal valuable?

Did you know that the rarest gem black opals can fetch up to $30,000+ per carat in the market. If you have dealt with other gemstones you may have used websites that automatically calculate a gemstones value for you based on the gemstones weight, shape, grade ect. The truth is, this would be impossible to do with opals. Opals rely on a lot of human judgement to grade and value their worth. Why? Because no two opals are exactly the same; so they cant be calculated as such like other gemstones. Every opal has a different colour combination, pattern, shape, size and weight. These factors as well as body tone, brightness and source of the opal need to be considered when pricing an opal.

There are a few well known facts about opals and their values. Common knowledge in the industry tells that if an opal contains the colour red, it is considered the most valuable. The more deeper, predominant, bright red colour the higher the value. Why are red opals the most valuable? Because red is the rarest colour!

 

Watch our vlog about why red opals are the rarest colour by clicking here.

 

Harlequin pattern opal in black opals is well known as the best, rarest and most valued pattern. A true harlequin pattern is a mixture of at least two different colours (or shades of one colour) with a criss/cross pattern of diamond and square shapes running into each other. Be careful when buying a harlequin pattern as a lot of people selling will claim a pattern is harlequin when it is not (may be a ribbon pattern or flagstone pattern). True harlequin gem black opals are exceptionally rare; the most rarest pattern in the opal industry.

An example of a true harlequin opal

Other notable features in opals that can spike values is rainbow colours, clear visible well known patterns with high brightness, symmetrical shapes for use by jewellers (especially oval domed ringstones) and opals with minimal inclusions.

So how do you value your opal? What is your opal worth? How do you know that what you are buying is a fair price? The simple answer is to do your own research. There are plenty of opals on the market. It is important to observe both sold prices and current asking prices to determine the value of an opal. Consider the opals size, weight, shape, brightness, body tone, pattern, colours and inclusions. Try to find comparable opals on the market, and sold, and work out a price per carat weight. No two opals are the same, however you can value an opal in comparison to other similar ones. Gem grade opals with higher values do take a considerable amount of time to value. We spend hours, sometimes days in valuing our gem grade opals. This is why we do not offer an appraisal service as it takes a very long time in doing research to be accurate in pricing.

Opals are also subjective in nature. They are valued by the observer, and many people have different opinions on how much one should be valued at. This leaves the market for opals wide open to make good profit if you believe that the asking price by someone is lower than what you believe the value is (and what you believe you could sell the opal for to someone else). There is also good opportunities to buy opal in the rough and polish an opal to increase its value. Sometimes in taking a gamble about what the rough will turn out like when finished. Always be weary and look for cracks in rough material by inspecting the rough dry.

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