Aussie Icons - Opals
Australia produces 95% of the world's precious opal and it is our official national gemstone.
A gemstone is a mineral valued for its beauty, and we are all familiar with gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires being used in jewellery. Opals however are also popular because they display a rainbow-like display due to their unique structure which diffracts white light into all the colours of the spectrum.
Australian opals were discovered during the late 1800's but their commercial value wasn't appreciated until the early 1900's and Australia is now the largest producer of opals around the world.
What makes opal special is its ability to flash fiery colours from the depths of the gemstone. When light hits an opal, the chips of silica inside the gemstone bounce it around and refract it in a beautiful and vivid display of colours. This is just one of the features that makes opals so popular and in turn, potentially expensive!
While black opals, white opals and crystal opals are mined and cut in their natural forms, there are also other kinds of opal stones that are man-made. These kinds of stones are known as doublets or triplets. Whilst they are of lesser value than natural stones, they mimic their appearance exactly. A doublet or a triplet is a stone where slices of opal are fixed to a black backing, giving the entire stone a darker and more vibrant body tone.
Boulder opal is a rock that contains thin seams and patches of opal surrounded by or attached to its natural host rock. The cutter studies this rock and decides how to cut the best possible gem. That gem might be cut to display seams and patches of precious opal as they appear within their natural host rock.
Certain regions in Australia contain geological rock formations that foster the growth and production of sedimentary opal. Opal thrives in specific locations, where millions of years ago geothermal springs flowed. Slowly over time the minerals deep in the earth made their way to the surface and grew in bedrock cavities to form opal.
If you look at a map of Australia and pinpoint these locations, you’ll quickly realise that opal exists abundantly across the country. From the bush to the outback, Australia is renowned for its natural and geological wonders. The most prominent locations of opal production exist in Australian Opal fields like Lightning Ridge, Queensland, South Australia, Mintabie and Yowah.
At Souvenirs Australia we stock a range of affordable fashion and souvenir opal ewellery using layered opal slice such as brooches, keychains, necklaces and pendants.
We also have a small but amazing collection of premium opal jewellery, but stock is extremely limited so you will need to be quick if you are after a very special piece of Australia.