Here’s Why Black Opals Are So Valuable


The opal is a glittering, holographic wonder, prized for its sweet, swirling hues that vary in transparency and hence, value. To find one of these precious stones, you are best headed for Australia, whose earth holds almost 100% of the world’s opal supply. Unfortunately, opal-mining ranks among the most frustrating pursuits in the world, since it is basically a blind hunt involving digging arbitrary holes in notably ‘rich’ areas, where the modern treasure seekers then lower themselves down an extremely deep shaft, risking plunging down 20 meters on average to severe injury or even death.

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But with great danger can bring even greater reward as the elusive black opal, the rarest of all opals, can fetch up to a staggering AUD $15,000 per carat. Unlike its moniker suggests a black opal is not literally black. Rather, these spellbinding opals can radiate with each color of the rainbow with a tiny wrist’s flick.

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Black opals separate themselves from other opals due to its presence of carbon and iron oxide traces, and are characterized by a body tone that varies from jet black to dark gray. It is their unusually dark body tone that allows their rainbow-like tones to radiate much more vividly than in lighter opals. Aside from an opal’s rareness, its ultimate value can be determined from many other factors including its brilliance, body tone, pattern, color bar thickness, type and perceived flaws, if any. The way an opal has been polished and cut also affects the overall value of an opal. After these factors are weighed, an opal’s overall carat size then rounds up its price.

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