Blacks, Whites, Crystals, Pictures...
Precious Black Opals
The base colour of black opals are, as their name suggests, black or very dark grey. However, that doesn’t mean that the stone is totally black. In fact, an opal that is just black is worthless. Precious Black opal consists of a layer of precious opal (i.e. opal that has play-of-colour) on a very dark grey to black potch opal. The gemstone is still entirely opal and has formed naturally as a single solid piece. The dark base makes the colours on the black opal glow and really stand out.
In general black opals are the most valuable of all opals and found almost exclusively from
Lightning Ridge Australia. Some limited production also comes from Mintabie and Allan’s Rise in South Australia. The prices of black opals vary from approximately 100 euros to tens of thousands of euros per carat.
A body tone scale has been developed to grade the black opals. Only opals that have the body tone of N1 to N4 can be called black opals. The body tone is determined by holding the stone face up on the scale and compairing its overall body tone to the shades on the scale.
The body tone, however, is only one factor that influences the value of a black opal. It must be noted as well that the body tone scale as a valuation tool only applies to black and dark opals. White opals and their body tone should be graded differently. Being on the other end of the scale doesn’t mean white opal is lower quality than black opal.
Dark opals, sometimes called as semi-black opals, are formed in the same way than black opals, with a layer of precious opal over grey colourless potch opal. The body tone of dark opals is either N5 or N6 on the body tone scale.
Often dark opals are more affordable than black opals. However, the body tone is only one factor affecting the pricing of a stone and the over all aesthetics and quality of the stone is what determines the price.
The best white opals mainly come from the Coober Pedy mining area in Southern Australia. The colours, pattern and the play of colour on a white opal can be just as amazing as on black and dark opals.
On white and light opals the colour can be over a light base opal, similarly to black and dark opals, or the stone can be entirely formed of white opal that is full of colour, often called as white crystal opal.
The sophisticated elegant beauty of white opals suits especially well to Scandinavian and European taste. White opals are also often larger than black opals and therefore they offer more options for necklaces, pendants and bracelets. Large white opals are often also significantly more affordable than black opals in the same size range.
Unline most black, dark and white opals, crystal opals are transparent. They can be as clear as glass or opaque, with or without a body tone. The body tone of a crystal opal can vary from white to black. Black crystal opals are very rare and sought after.
Crystal opals are definitely one of our favourites due to their versatility. The colour in crysta opals can be on top of the stone and/or embedded deep into the stone, creating layered vivid colour play. Often on crystal opals the colour play is lively and attractive. In static photographs this play of colour don’t show and therefore photographs often don’t do justice to crystal opals. The photo and video of a same stone below demonstrates this well. In our shop we always provide a video of a stone to present it as well and accurately as possible.
Crystal opals can often be cut to be double sided, so that the stone can be set both ways or to an open setting where the stone is visible on both sides.
Setting and background of a crystal opal can have a big effect on the aesthetics of the stone. Therefore, special care should be taken when choosing settings for crystal opals. Often crystal opals look lighter live than on pictures. Skin is often a very appealing background for them. If the stone has sand or other inclusions on the background it’s advisable to set it on a solid, non transparent, background.
Pictures don’t always do justice to opals. The play of colour only shows when the stone is moved. When the stone is worn on a piece of jewellery, it’s constantly moving and the colour play on the opal really gets to show itself.
Below, a picture and a video of the same opal are shown side by side. This example shows how little a picture alone tells about an opal. On the video the lovely rolling colour displays itself. One can just imagine how this stone would look in a ring.
In picture opals, the colourful precious opal is mixed with the colourless potch opal, forming pictures and patterns. Picture opals can be very attractive and interesting stones that leave room for imagination.
Picture opals are usually significantly lower priced than the other solid opals as the colourful precious opal doesn’t cover the whole stone. On the other hand, it makes these stones especially interesting.
Latest Opals in Our Shop
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Black Opal – 0.69 cts136.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Black Opal – 0.50 cts152.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Very Bright Crystal Opal – 0.54 cts172.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Black Opal – 0.34 cts118.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Picture Opal – 0.67 cts82.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Dark Opal – 0.72 cts94.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Dark Opal – 0.87 cts224.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Picture Opal – 1.0 cts106.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Black Opal – 0.3 cts235.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Very Bright Natural Crystal Opal – 0.46 cts159.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Picture Opal – 0.27 cts145.00 € Add to basket
Lightning Ridge Australia – Natural Black Opal – 0.6 cts218.00 € Add to basket