Australian Black Opal Stone

Australian Black Opal Stone – The Birth of Black Opal

The birth of Australian Black Opal Stone began around 600 to 500 million years ago when the suturing of the ancient continent Gondwana evolved.

Gondwana was an incredibly massive continent incorporating many land masses that are now part of our Southern Hemisphere. Lands forming this ancient continent included the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Peninsula, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Antartica, and Australia.

In the ancient times of Gondwana, an inland sea producing significant amounts of silica-laden sediment covered the central part of today’s Australian continent. The presence of this inland sea provides the seed for the birth of Opal by depositing vast quantities of Silica into small cracks in rocks (voids), decomposed fossils, and in layers of clay. In summary, Black Opal is the result of water flowing down through the earth and picking up silica from sandstone on the way. The water evaporates and the silica-rich deposits are left behind creating a path for the birth of opal.

Silica naturally nourishes our marine environment and the many marine fossils, fish bones, and shells found in central Australia confirm the existence of this Silica bearing inland sea.

Australian Black Opal Stone – The Legend

Sanskrit is an ancient language in Hinduism, and there is the belief that the English word Opal, evolves from the Sanskrit word upala, meaning ‘valuable or precious stone.’

The name Opal may also be associated with the Greek word opallios, meaning ‘to see a change in colour’. The ancient Greeks also believed Opals (opallios) to be the ‘Tears of Zeus.’

The ancient Australian Aborigines believed the opal to be half serpent and half devil. The beauty of the fire colours within the stone would lure and trick someone to enter the demon’s den.

Today, the Aboriginal legend tells the birth of opal happening when the footprint of the creator touched the earth at the base of a rainbow to bring harmony.

Australian Black Opal Stone – Wallangulla (LR)

The Australian black opal

Black Opal stone is native to Australia. It is unique and rare. And you can only find this precious gemstone in Lightning Ridge and the surrounding Opal fields of the Wallangulla region in outback NSW, Australia.

Located approximately 730 km north-west of Sydney and 730 km south-west of Brisbane, Lightning Ridge (LR) has no traffic lights and is home to the Black Opal.

Lightning Ridge is the only place in the World where black opal is commercially produced and for more information on opal mining in Lightning Ridge please visit Lightning Ridge opal mining.

Australian Black Opal Stone – What is Black Opal?

The Australian Black Opal Stone is a non-crystalline natural gemstone that most often changes colour when rotated at different angles.

This rare and unique gemstone is a formation from the combination of silicon dioxide (silica & oxygen) with water, and ideally between 3 to 10 percent moisture content by weight. Quality solid Black Opal Stone contains 5-6 percent water.

The estimation for a 1 cm thick silica vein to form is around 5-6 million years.

For more information please click on this link → What is Black Opal?

Australian Black Opal Stone – Seams & Nobbies

The Australian Black Opal is a highly valued gemstone and can attract a price of up to US $15,000 a carat.

Black Opal Stone exists in claystone layers at depths between 20 to 60 feet below the ground surface of the Griman Creek Formation and the greyish claystone (opal dirt) lies below overlying sandstone and conglomerate rock.

Black Opal forms in horizontal deposits referred to as seams and also forms in rounded nodules of potch and colour called ‘nobbies.’

Mining Black Opal is hard yakka and the best time to prospect is in the colder months due to the extreme hot conditions during summer.

And in the earlier days, picks and shovels were the only tools available to remove rock.

Australian Black Opal Stone – Body & Soul

australian black opal stone
Transforming rough into a small cab

When an opal is cut, rubbed, shaped, and polished into a finished gemstone, it is called a cabochon. The cabochon is then made into beautiful jewelry such as pendants, bracelets, rings, and earrings. However, in some circumstances, it is best to go with the shape of the opal and not to try and do a fancy cabochon, WHY? because you can lose colour. I have been there and done that. If you do happen to have a piece that you can get a nice cab out of, then go for it. But, if youdon’t just go with the flow and shape of the stone, and retain as much colour as you possibly can. Colour is opal.

Identifying loose Solid Black Opal is easy because there are no layers. However, imitation Black Opal set in jewelry can be more difficult to recognize, and by Australian law, must be labeled as imitations. The most common known imitations are the Gilson opal (laboratory-produced), doublets, and triplets. Price should also be a guide in determining whether the opal is a solid black opal or an imitation!!! It should also be noted that Ethiopian opal is not black opal.

ALL Opals n Jewels Australian Solid Black Opals DO NOT have any materials adhered to their structure and are unaltered natural pieces of art more scarce than diamonds. We do not sell doublets, triplets or synthetic Opal. ALL Opals n Jewels opals are solid Australian Black Opal Stone.

Australian Black Opal Stone – Opal Facts

  • Australia produces approximately 95 percent of the World’s Opal
  • South Australia provides about 80 percent in the form of White Opal
  • Queensland and NSW share the remaining 15 percent
  • Queensland is known for Boulder Opal
  • The NSW town of White Cliffs is famous for the Pineapple and White Opals
  • The NSW town of Lightning Ridge is World renowned for the rare Black Opal

Australian Black Opal Stone – Australian Opal Guide

There are rogue dealers in any industry, and the jewelry industry is no exception. There are those that will falsely advertise fakes as the real deal. So if a merchant presents you with an opal, set in jewelry for under $30, the chances are it’s an imitation.

What to look out for:

  • The Country of Origin – 95 percent of the world’s opals come from Australia
  • Price – The rare Australian Black Opal is not cheap, and can attract a price of up to Aud $20,000 per carat
  • Patterns – laboratory made stones have snake-like orderly patterns.
  • Colours – large bright patches indicate an artificial opal.
  • The Depth of Colour – Colour just beneath the surface indicates a fake, depth of colour indicates a real opal (view under white light only).
  • Layers – check the sides to see if there are any layers.
  • Cloudy Stone – If you see a cloudy stone then it is most likely a doublet or a triplet (water penetrating through an adhered layer).

It would be great to hear your thoughts on Black Opal, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

We have a stunning collection of beautiful solid Black Opal stone pendants and necklaces for you to choose from.

By the way, if you like opal what is your favourite colour?

brad opals n jewels






Related Links

What is black opal?
Lightning Ridge black opal
Lightning Ridge opal mining
Australian black opal pendants


11 thoughts on “Australian Black Opal Stone

  1. I do like the look of your site and the featured jewels make for some lovely images. Like most people, I know little or nothing about opals, so it is always interesting to learn something new. Next time, I will check out the prices of what you have to offer.

  2. Great information! I had never heard of opals before and found your explanations and presentation quite informative and interesting. They are beautiful stones and I love the color combination.

    I have a question though. Since opals are large rocks, what sorts of jewelry would you put them on? Or would you use them in things like paperweights?

    • Thank you Marlinda,

      They are crafted into pendants and rings. Although I prefer not to set them in rings due to their hardness.

      The stone is cut, polished, and shaped and crafted into loose stones as pictured in my post. These loose stones can be then put into jewellery sets like pendants, rings, earrings.

      The most expensive is the colour red fire (red on black).Red is the rarest of all the colours, with the highest quality stones fetching up to $15,000 a carat (200 mg). Normally the darker the body tone the higher the price, however, there are many other features that can affect the price of the stone.

      Thank you once again and best wishes.


  3. Hey Brad:

    Thanks for the fascinating look at the world of gemology and black opals. Your rule-of-thumb tips are very helpful for someone who knows little about the stones, I am thinking.

    It was cool to get a look at the ways people alter and “enhance” natural stones that are not the best quality and how those alterations affect the final product.

    • Thanks Netta,

      I still have a way to go but I didn’t want to cram too much into the one post.

      There is so much more

      Best wishes


  4. Hi Brad,

    I had no idea there were so many different types of opal! I have seen white opal mostly, and now I know why. As you said, it is the most traded. My mother once told me there were many types of the stone, but I had no idea. I find it very interesting that black opal is more rare than diamonds. Why is it that we are so drawn to diamonds? Is it because they are easier to find?

    Thanks for the great info!

    • Hi JaemiO,

      Black Opal is rare because there is only one place in the world we know of to prospect for Black Opal.
      This little place is called Lightning Ridge in north western NSW, Australia, population 4,500 +.
      I am heading up there in 1 week and will take some videos and share them with you and others when I get back.

      I look forward to seeing your next cooking lesson.

      Best regards

  5. I love visiting websites where I actually come away more informed than when I came. I’ve known about opals, especially fire opals and for years have been drawn in by their beauty. I especially enjoyed the Aboriginal legend. Beautiful jewelry and lots of great information.

    I look forward to keeping up with your posts and adventures.

    All the best,

    • Thank you, Sue,

      I am happy you like my Opals. Well, actually I call them my babies. It is funny how you can get very attached to some of them and do not want to let them go. There is one loose Opal I have that I have not yet set in jewelery. It has every colour under the sun and will be included on the website in a couple of days.

      Thank you once again for your lovely comments and I look forward to communicating with nice people like yourself again in the future!

      Best wishes,

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