Valuing Opals – Not For The Fainthearted
The value of an opal is based on its rarity and a combination of value factors.
It can be relatively easy to undervalue or overprice an opal given limited exposure to high quality Australian stones.
Natural solid Australian opals are the most coveted of all. These are natural gems polished out opal rough, with or (less often) without the host rock. Opal doublets and triplets contain a slice of opal glued to a sliver of another rock or material.
The most valuable Australian opals are bright and show the surprising shifts of patterns and colours that occur only in nature and are impossible to reproduce.
The attributes that help decide an opal’s value are:
Play of colour describes the pattern of colours that appears to roll across the surface of an opal when it moves. The more an opal displays this attribute, the more valuable the gem.
Brightness refers to the intensity and clarity of an opal’s colours when viewed face-up and ranges from brilliant to subdued or dull. The brighter the stone the better.
Pattern every opal has its own unique pattern. The brighter and more distinct the pattern of an opal the greater its value. Some defined patterns are exceedingly rare and fetch high prices.
Colour type and range – the more colours present in the stone the greater its value. Red is the rarest and most prized colour of all.
Body tone refers to an opal’s underlying colour. The darker the body tone, the more valuable the opal.
Valuing opals is not an easy process. Many experienced jewellers and valuers shy away from handling Australian opals—perhaps wisely. There is still no agreed nomenclature and experts rely on their experience to determine a stone’s value.
To provide our clients with the best possible advice, our team includes qualified and accredited gemmologists who undertake regular professional development and spend time at the source – our opal mines in Jundah.