Since the 1880s, Australia’s extraordinary and beautiful gemstone, the opal, has been mined in the outback. Opal formed around 20 to 50 million years ago from the silica-rich sands of an ancient seabed, which is now the outback deserts of Australia.
Nature has captured all the colours of the spectrum, displaying them in an infinite variety of shades, patterns and brilliance and locked them into this remarkable stone. No other gemstone can display such wonderful personality, and each stone exudes its own character, allowing the wearer to own a unique piece of nature.
There are four main types of natural solid opal from Australia:
As with a piece of art ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’; the same holds true with regard to purchasing an opal. You should also bear in mind, however, that the stone’s rarity, size shape, colours, patterns and, most importantly, brilliance will be the important factors in determining its value.
Opal is a finite resource with most of the mining locations experiencing significant reductions in production over the last 20 years. Your visit to Australia is a great opportunity to take home a wonderful piece of Australia’s mineral beauty, its national gemstone, the precious opal.
The National Opal Collection showrooms in Sydney and Melbourne are a great place to purchase tax-free opals and beautifully designed opal creations, while at the same time, visitors can take the opportunity of seeing a world-class collection of opalised fossils from the dinosaur age. You can also watch opal cutting or gather information on touch-screen displays.
60 Pitt Street, Sydney
Tel: +612 9247 6344
119 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Tel: +613 9662 3524
Written by Damien Cody, managing director of The National Opal Collection
Images ©The National Opal Collection