Opals Gemstones - Learn All Before Selling

Last updated: January 26, 2020

Opals are among the most exquisite gemstones, showcasing a rich assortment of colors and striking hues. Among others, they masquerade as rich artistic tapestries with opulent streaks and shades adorning each of these sparkling gems. If you are selling opals, you need to do all you can to make sure you are getting what they are worth. At Worthy, we help consumers sell their diamond jewelry for the highest possible price. What we’ve learned about selling diamonds can help you when you are selling opals too. 

Here are 10 things you need to know about selling opals for the highest possible price:

1. Play of Color is the Most Important Opal Value Factor

When examining an opal's color, it's important to know that play-of-color and background color can add value to the gemstone in different ways. Play-of-color is what gives opals their spectacular appearance, and the brighter, more vivid the play-of-color is, the higher value buyers will give to it. As regards background color, black backgrounds are the most desired.

2. Pattern Has a High Influence on Opal Value

Besides color, the gemstone's pattern can determine at high levels how much buyers are willing to pay for it. Play-of-color can take four different forms: pinfire or pinpoint, mosaic, flame, and peacock. Opals are more valued when the play-of-color pattern includes large, closely arranged patches rather than tiny, dispersed spots.

3. Opal Clarity Level Affects Value

Another factor that influences opal value is clarity, meaning the degree of transparency and presence of inclusions. The desired level of transparency varies according to the opal type: while transparency is prized in crystal opal, opacity is preferred for black opals.

4. Oval Cabochon is the Most Common Cut

When cut for jewelry designs, opals are commonly turned into oval cabochons, since this shape gives the best play-of-color and prevents the stone from breakage. When it comes to exceptional opals, cutters sometimes consider giving them freeform shapes in order to maximize the play-of-color.

5. Opal Contains 20% of Water

Due to its high water content, it is advised not to expose opal to dry or hot environments. Although opals are in most cases cured to avoid cracking, extreme dryness can damage the stone.

6. Opal is Found in Many Kinds of Jewelry

This fascinating gemstone can be found in all kinds of fine jewelry, from rings and earrings to necklaces. Thanks to their low density, large opals can be included in pieces of jewelry and still be comfortable to wear. At the same time, due to its low level of hardness, opal can be scratched or damaged more easily than other gemstones, which is why opals are often found in protective jewelry settings.

7. Black Opal is the Most Valuable Type

These gemstones are among the most beautiful and valuable of all the Opals. Such is their splendor that Australia named this stone the official gemstone of New South Wales in 2008. The vast majority of all black Opal gemstones originate in Australia – NSW specifically. Of all the varieties, this gemstone is the most valuable. The color variations of black Opal include various shades of grey to pitch black. But there are many different tones, shades, hues and colors that are contained within black Opals. 

The full spectrum of colors is radiated in these stones. These black Opal stones are unique by way of many inherent flaws in the stones. They come from an area of NSW known as Lightning Ridge and it’s this very intensity of weather phenomena that gave rise to these magnificent specimens. While black Opal exists in other regions of the world like Ethiopia, only the Australian variety is truly magnificent.

8. White Opals are the Most Common Type

Also known as "Milky Opals", White Opal gemstones are used for balancing chakras and they also clear negative emotions. Some have even called White Opals the strongest of the healing stones, going as far as labeling them the stone of the Gods. White Opals are the most common type, and while they are quite unique and beautiful, have the least market value of all the Opal types.

9. Mexican Opal is Highly Valued by Collectors

Mexican Opal has a hardness of 5 – 6.5 and a specific gravity of 2.15. These stones have a refractive index of 1.45. Mexican Opals include the Mexican Fire Opal, the Flash Opal, the Cantera Opal, the Contraluz Opal, the Jelly Opal, and the Mexican Black Opal among others. Mexican Opals are prized possessions for German and Japanese collectors. Some of the rarest Mexican Opals are the Mexican Black Opals with Contraluz Crystal Opals being equally scarce.

10. Water Opals are Very Rare

Water Opal goes by the name Hyalite. These precious gemstones do not have a base color. These opals have a clear appearance and look glassy. On the Mohs hardness scale they are 5.5 to 6 with a specific gravity of 1.9 – 2.1. These opals contain between 3% and 8% water. They are rare, and under UV light they fluoresce in bright green.

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