Lightning Ridge Opal Mining

Wallangulla - Lightning Ridge Opal Mining History

Black Opal was first discovered at Wallangulla (Lightning Ridge) in the late 1880’s, possibly 1887, by a boundary rider named Jack Murray. The first shaft was sunk around 1901 to 1902 by Jack Murray, who lived on a nearby property. Shortly after the shaft was put down he was joined by six members of a shearing team on their way to a large property (Angledool) to the northwest. And this was the beginning of Lightning Ridge Opal Mining.
A little time after Murray sank the first shaft, Charles Nettleton , a miner from Bathurst arrived and commenced sinking shafts. And it was Nettleton who sold the first parcel of gems in 1903 for $30 which was less than a fiftieth of what he could have got five years later.

Lightning Ridge Opal Fields

lightning ridge black opal
Numerous shafts are scattered around Lightning Ridge along an L shaped ridge, and the outlying opal fields of Grawin, Sheepyard, Glengarry, New Coorcoran, Carters Rush, and Angledool

The Three Mile  —  The most extensively worked and the most productive area in the region. And at one point in time there were 1,000 opal miners working this area. In recent years larger scale open cut mining is performed to extract opal.

Thurleys Six Mile  —   It is reported that the first shaft on this field was sunk in 1902.  Sinking ranging from 6 m – 12 m. In some claims the Finch claystone was extremely rich in opal and included a lot of clear potch. The field was then abandoned for a long period of time until May 1970 when miners flooded in to the area and recovered many good quality black opals. And these quality opals were extracted in close proximity to where the first shaft on the field was sunk.

Nobbys (Old Nobby)  —  This is one of the first shafts to be put down on the Lightning Ridge opal field. At the foot of the ridge, Opal was initially found in gravel. A large amount of opal has been recovered from this area, however, the rocks are dusty, extremely hard, and difficult to work. Even the Finch claystone in this locality is a lot harder than on the rest of the field and the shafts here range from < 1 m to approximately 12 m in depth.

New Nobby (New Rush)  —  Intensive work commenced here in 1960 when a 12 m deep prospecting shaft returned precious opal. When word got out a rush to the area began, resulting in the sinking of around 100 shafts. Lenses of Finch claystone were found at depths between 5 m and 6 m and 10.5 m and 11 m.

Deep Four Mile  —   An area with an average sinking of about 18 m with no shallow ground. Good quality opal was extracted here back in the 1930’s from five claims. There are different levels of opal dirt present in the area and the deepest shaft is 28.5 m.

McDonalds Six Mile (The Six Mile)  —  Here the Finch claystone depth ranges between 9 m and 12 m on the crest of the hill and 1.8 m at the base. The best quality opals were found in the deeper ground.

Rouses Six Mile (The Six Mile)  —  This area is known to be near McDonalds Six Mile, however its location is uncertain. Rouses Six Mile was a rush on shallow ground and the sinking depths varied from 1.8 m to approximately 4.5 m. There was only two claims that produced any quantity of opal and much of that was in the form of large black “nobbies”.

Nine Mile  —  Shaft depths of around 12 m on the crest of the hill becoming shallower towards the base. The Finch claystone is red, caused by ironstaining, and the depth to the major Finch claystone lens is between 6 m and 8 .4 m below the crest of the hill. Potch was found scattered with the opal. 

Shallow Belars  —  Workings range from 0.3 m to 3.6 m in depth. Some good quality opalized bivalves were recovered here along the contact between the overlying Wallangulla sandstone and the Finch claystone.

Hawks Nest  —  Sinking range between 1.2 m and 12 m. Lenses up to 2.7 m thick and in some shafts three opal bearing lenses intersected at 3.6 m, 6.9 m, and 12 m. Some good quality opal has been extracted from this area.

Bald Hill  —  The primary lens of Finch claystone occurs at depths of around 13 m with some areas producing five lenses. One 30 m deep shaft was reported to intersect eleven lenses AND each lens contained opal. Opal nodules frequently develop deep in the Finch claystone lenses which are usually over 4 m thick and contain beds of kaolinitic sandstone. Most of the precious opal that was recovered from this region was worked in an area only 120 m by 30 m.

New Chum and Old Chum  —  Opal lenses as shallow as 1.5 m were encountered in this area with most shafts ranging between 3 m and 10 m in depth. Some shafts had no intersections with the French claystone even though they were sunk to 15 m. On the side of the hill in the Old Chum location opal float was found in gravels and the diggings here were up to 3 m deep. Another point to note is a 100 carats stone was recovered from the New Chum area.

Grawin  —  42 km southwest of Lightning Ridge is the opal field of Grawin. A large amount of opal has been won in this region particularly at Richards Hill and Hammonds Hill. Most opal in this location occur in seams with very few nobbies unearthed. Most gems won here are light in colour, predominantly green in colour, and are have a greasy lustre. Glengarry is similar to Grawin in many aspects. The opal here is always found in seams and there have been no recordings of nodules ever being won in this area. The opal-bearing claystone here forms at depths ranging between 2.7 m and 4.5 m and 7.5 m shafts were sunk over a distance of approximately 400 m.

New Coorcoran —  A field first worked in late 1972 to early 1973. Varying depths from near surface to 15 m, depending on the position of the ridge. The most common precious opal colours won in this field are green or blue together with red.

Lightning Ridge Opal Mining Methods

Opal prospecting is done by working underground shafts, or by treating old piles surrounding shafts. Miners use their own initiatives and combinations of equipment to extract opal and their methods vary. 

The traditional method to sink a shaft was to use a pick and shovel, with waste dirt being hauled up in buckets by hand windlass. While sinking the shaft the walls are checked for levels of precious opal or potch, then driven along the level usually with a pick . Opal dirt is then gently shaved away with hand tools until there is a visible sign of opal.

The simple methods of hand mining used to sink and drive shafts are now being replaced with much easier methods like jackhammers. Opal dirt is removed from the face to the shaft in buckets or wheel barrows and raised by windlass, or power and automatic self tipping hoists.

lightning ridge opal mining
{{Information |Description=Aerial photo of Lightning Ridge town and nearby mines. |Source=self |Date=17 April 2006 |Author= M P Goodwin |Permission= |other_versions}}

Hand mining methods are gradually being taken over by mechanical equipment. You can drill a 20 m deep hole with a 1 m diameter in a matter of hours with a Mobile Caldwell bucket drilling rig. A cylindrical bucket (kibble) about 2 m long and slightly less than 1 m in diameter can connect to the drill and be lowered to the bottom of the shaft to collect all the opal dirt dug out by the jackhammer(s). The kibble is then raised and the dirt it brought to the surface and dumped straight onto a truck. These drills are also used to dig air shafts, access shafts for miners and equipment, and hopefully, a never required escape route.

Blowers are used to suck opal dirt from underground and are located on the surface. These act like huge vacuum cleaners that extract opal dirt up through a pipe to load directly onto a truck. Bob Cats with a backhoe attachment break opal dirt and can be used to transport the dirt when a bucket is attached.

The Australian black opal

Open-cut workings using bulldozers are slowly progressing but restricted due to extremely high running costs. 

Puddlers are used to treat opal dirt and operate like a large sieve. Pudders remove opal dirt from harder materials such as nobbies and sandstone. Many of the old dried out puddlers have been replaced by rumblers or trommels (revolving horizontal screens) which remove the smaller sized portions prior to wet puddling. Wet puddling is carried out by large concrete like mixers, called by agitators, that have mesh windows which allow the silt flow out.

Many of the stowed dumps of dirt from underground shafts of previous mining days have been reworked by puddlers to extract small opals. In earlier times small opal did not have much value.

T o see if any colour is visible in opal, pincers are used to snip Nobbies. If colour is showing a polishing machine will then be used to buff the opal to roughly identify its value.

Lightning Ridge Black Opal

LIGHTNING RIDGE BLACK OPAL

In North Western NSW, outback Australia, and approximately nine hours drive from Sydney, lies a little town called Lightning Ridge. About 70 km South of the Queensland border, and an eight and a half hour drive South West of Brisbane, this tiny village has no traffic lights and is home to a very small population of just over 2,000 people. But pound for pound Lightning Ridge packs a HUGE punch in the World arena. Why? Because Lightning Ridge is home to a rare and spectacular opal, the Lightning Ridge Black Opal. And Lightning Ridge is the only place in the World where black opal is commercially produced.

According to an Australian Government 2016 census, Lightning Ridge is residence to 2,284 people which is 12.22{049d3018651de2a7e433ffb13acdc36a21b9ea4fa995a70edf1ffcc6a2970dff} less than the population census conducted in 2006. People continually drift in and out of Lightning Ridge searching for the rare Lightning Ridge Black Opal and some get lucky but some don’t, but hey, that’s mining, and it is the WILD WEST!!!

Lightning Ridge is a popular destination for both local and overseas tourists wishing to explore the Ridge and experience the magic and beauty of the Black Opal. And to those who are passionate about opal, black opal is available online for all to enjoy and experience.

Opals n Jewels

LIGHTNING RIDGE PRECIOUS OPAL

The Lightning Ridge Black Opal is classified precious opal because of it’s background colour and the type of colour patterns it can produce. Precious opal can be colourless, whitish, light to dark grey, brown, or black and develop in both sedimentary and volcanic rock. Sedimentary rock is a more prevalent environment for opal to form however precious opal has been found in volcanic rocks such as basalt.

Black Opal displays spectral colours which are highlighted by a dark body tone colour which is usually black, dark grey to grey. The dark colour body tone is created by the presence of iron oxide and the darker the background the more emphasis there is on the flash of colours. This characteristic is also reflected in the value of black opal with darker body tones attracting higher prices. The background body tone grading for a Lightning Ridge Black Opal is represented by a Neutral body tone scale that ranges from the darkest body tone of N1, to the lightest N9.

Other opals classified precious include Light Opal, Boulder, and Fire Opal.

Light Opals have a body colour that range from milky white to clear with the clear varieties commonly known as crystal or jelly opal. White Cliffs, in outback NSW, produces beautiful light opals and is also renown for the unique pineapple opal. Coober Pedy, in South Australia, is the main producer of white precious opal and is the largest opal field in the world. It is also the largest opal field on earth.

Boulder Opal is now becoming a very popular gemstone for opal enthusiasts according to the statistics on the behavioural patterns of people searching for opals. Boulder is messy to work with but can produce some amazing colours and is found in the cavities and veins in ironstone (iron stained sandstone) and mudstone.

Fire Opal is transparent to translucent and is characterised with a reddish yellowy body tone that highlights a bright play of red and green colours.

Different colour patterns can emerge from precious opal when rotated and viewed at varying angles and also when seen at different times of the day.

LIGHTNING RIDGE BLACK OPAL Colour PATTERNS

Harlequin

Harlequin patterns are made up of a mixture of different sized square-like patches of colour.

black opal stones
Opals n Jewels solid black opal stone
australian black opal pendants
Opals n Jewels 18 kt gold pendant necklace

Pinfire

A Pinfire is a natural colour pattern consisting of closely spaced specks or pinpoints.

Flash

Flashes of colour varying as the stone is rotated and viewed at different angles and light.

Australian black opal pendant
Opals n Jewels 18 kt gold pendant necklace

THE FIRST COMMERCIAL PARCEL of gems

The famous Lightning Ridge Black Opal was first discovered in the late 1880’s by a boundary rider named Jack Murray. And at the time of discovery, the Lightning Ridge black opal was not acknowledged as a gemstone with any commercial value. It was only in 1903 when black opal was recognized to have any financial worth with the first parcel selling for $30. And $30 was not even a fiftieth of the price obtained five years later. Can you imagine, just five years after that first $30 parcel was sold, its value increased to more than $1500. An incredible increase in excess of 4900{049d3018651de2a7e433ffb13acdc36a21b9ea4fa995a70edf1ffcc6a2970dff}.

WALLANGULLA (LR) geology

Black opal forms as irregular nodules, (“nobbies”), or in seams and thin layers within horizontal and vertical joint planes, in a distinct soft, grey to pale yellowish -brown coloured claystone. Generally known as “opal dirt” this claystone whitens and hardens as it dries. Opal dirt can occur in several levels and the geographical formation of these layers is called the Finch Claystone. Now this is important because opal is often found near the junction of the Finch Claystone and the overlying Wallangulla sandstone. The bottom 30 cm of this layer is generally silicified and extremely hard and appropriately called the “steel band”. Above the Wallangulla sandstone lies a fine grained white to creamy coloured claystone which is usually jointed and has a rectangular or box-like shape structure not necessarily characterised with flat sides. When this layer is exposed to the surface it hardens and silicifieds, a process known as “shin cracker”.

These sediments are of Cretaceous Age and may possibly be associated with Tertiary-Miocene lateritization (see laterite). Red residual soil forms from the natural drainage of silica, through the earth, and enriched with iron oxides and aluminium, particularly in humid climates.

The general sequence of Cretaceous strata for the Lightning Ridge region is:

Coocoran claystone               0.0 — 3.6 m         “Shin cracker”

Wallangulla sandstone          3.6 m — 20 m      Basal 0 —  0.3 m  “Steel band” 

Finch claystone                       1.3 m —  6 m       “Opal dirt”

Patches of Tertiary gravels, including laterite and silcrete occur in some areas.

lightning ridge black opal

Most levels of opal dirt form between 6-18 m below the surface but are not necessarily horizontal or continual. Opal and potch are generally found in only
two or three of these layers however, there was a report of one shaft containing eleven levels. Some shafts have been sunk to depths of up to 30 m.
Geology Reference: Department of Mineral Resources, NSW, “The Geological Survey of New South Wales”

Loose Black Opals Sale

Black Opal 418L Special

€A stunning 2.86 ct exquisite teardrop featuring a large face. This beauty is characterised with every colour of the rainbow. SAVE 20{049d3018651de2a7e433ffb13acdc36a21b9ea4fa995a70edf1ffcc6a2970dff}

The Perfect Surrounding

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Fine Food Cuisine

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The Best Experience Ever

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Opals n Jewels Loose Black Opals Sale

Welcome to the Opals n Jewels Loose Black Opals Sale. Please have a look around and if you have any questions along the way please don’t hesitate to call out. All Opals sold on this website are SOLID Black Opals extracted from the Opal fields of Lightning Ridge, NSW Australia. We only sell quality Black Opal. You will NOT find Doublets, Triplets or Synthetic Opal on this website. For our range of Solid Black Opal Gold Pendants please click https://opalsnjewels.com/australian-black-opal-pendants
Opals n Jewels Loose Black Opals Sale – Product Code: 34286 https://youtu.be/pMCVAatN4Mc A favourite of mine that displays just about every colour you can think of. I have taken a wider shot of the Opal to give you a clearer picture. I took this video in the morning the light on an Apple Ipad. The predominant colour is red but you will also see other colours within the stone such as violets, flashes of green, blues, orange and more. It is an amazing stone characterized by spectacular features. The display face is very large due to a shallow cut and at 2.86 ct is a great deal at USD $1100. Shipping and Insurance vary depending on location. Product Code 34286
Opals n Jewels Loose Black Opals Sale – Product Code: 34286  

Australian Black Opal Pendants

australian black opal pendants

We specially handcraft beautiful Australian Black Opal Pendants featuring stunning Solid Black Opal Stones. 
All Black Opals listed on our website, come directly from the Opal fields of the Lightning Ridge region in outback NSW, Australia,
home to the rare and exquisite Australian Black Opal Stone.

When selecting a Gold Pendant the best-coordinating colour for Opal is Yellow Gold. White Gold looks great with Blue colours and Rose Gold compliments Pinks, Aquas, and Blues.

THE Pendants

All Black Opal Gold Pendants are made from either 9 K (375) or 18 K (750) Australian Gold. Your choice of colours include Yellow Gold, White Gold, and Rose Gold

THE settings

Our Black Opal Stones are Bezel-set for security and protection. Bezel-set Opals are surrounded completely by Gold (360°) which also enhances the stone's natural features.

THE chains

Our 9 K and 18 K Gold Trace Chain necklaces are Italian made and Italian designed. Crafted with South African gold, the links in this chain provide strength and durability.

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When browsing through our website you may come across a loose opal stone that you really have your heart set on but you don’t have your own trustworthy jeweller to set it for you. If so, then please let us know and we can help you out and set it for you. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for then just send me the below listed details of what you heart desires and I will send you photos of all the Opals that match your description that are not yet listed on this website.

Please provide the following information:

  • Your preferred predominant colour or colours, if applicable
  • The shape of your desired stone – oval, teardrop, freeform  
  • Size of stone – carat weight
  • Price range
  • Gold colour – Yellow, White, Rose 
  • Gold karat weight – 9 K / 18 K
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What is Black Opal?

What is Black Opal? 

What is Black Opal is a question I’m often asked by friends living in Australia and my friends who live abroad in the United States, Canada, and the UK. So when my friends hear the word “black” they naturally assume that the black opal is black and often ask me this question “what makes a black rock so rare and incredibly spectacular”? Hmm, a good question, a question we will find out the answers to a little further down the page…

The Beginning

So let’s take a little look into the beginning of Australia’s national gemstone, the Opal. The formation of Opal began millions of years ago when an inland sea covered the central part of Australia. This sea provided our Earth with silica-rich deposits that found their way into cracks, voids, and decomposed fossils as the result of water flowing down through overlying sandstone. And to this day we are finding marine fossils and opalised marine fossils in inland parts of Australia hundreds of miles away from any coastline.

Palaeontology

Now if you happen to purchase an Opal through our website, or you currently own a solid Opal, jot down the measurements and remember this: Palaeontologists estimate that it takes approximately 5-6 million years for a 1 cm thick Opal vein to mature.  WOW, just imagine how ancient your Opal could be.


What is Black Opal? 

  • Unlike Diamonds, Opal is a non-crystalline, hydrated amorphous form of Silica, created by the combination of Silicon Dioxide (Silica & Oxygen) with water Si02.nH2O.
  • The moisture content of Opal varies between 3 to 21 percent by weight, but the ideal range is between 3 to 10 percent.
  • Quality Australian Opals contain around 5-6 percent water by weight.
  • Crystalline forms of Silica are minerals. However, Opal is a mineraloid because it has no defined shape or crystalline structure (amorphous).
  • Opals have a relative hardness value of approximately 5.5 on the Mohs scale which is about the same as glass.
  • Opal, in my opinion, is a bit more fragile than glass so avoid contact with any hard surfaces.
what is black opal
Black Opal Stone

What is Black Opal? – Internal Structure

The internal structure of Black Opal is made up of microscopic spheres of Silica approximately 0.00005 – 0.0004 mm in diameter, that have grown around a central nucleus. Viewing these
minuscule areas of Silica requires the use of an electron microscope with 30,000x magnification.

The Silica spheres are what orchestrates the amazing and unique light shows that captivate audiences from all over the World.

Australian black opal fire
Cmglee – Creative Commons

The size of the diameter of the hydrated Silica spheres determines the ‘play of colour’ by causing white light to refract and diffract.

Example 1. Diffraction – light waves bend as they pass the edge of an object and around small particles. Within Opal, the light turns around tiny spheres of hydrated Silica and Oxygen and can create the entire spectrum of colours.

Example 2. Refraction – when light travels from one medium that has a different density to another, light changes direction. Unlike a diamond, Opal doesn’t have a definitive Refractive Index (RI) because the refractive indices of the spheres of hydrated Silica vary. Therefore, the Refractive Index measurement for Opal can range between 1.37 – 1.52.

You can see in example 1, the longer wavelengths of red, diffract more than the shorter wavelengths of violet. In example 2, the shorter wavelengths of violet refract more than, the longer wavelengths of red.

Diffraction bends waves; refraction changes the direction and speed of the waves.

Brilliant and captivating colours display when light waves travel through the transparency of Silica, and it is possible for all the colours of the spectrum to be visible within just one stone. I know, because I have a 2.86 carat solid Black Opal that displays every colour you can imagine. And this gemstone takes me to another world.

  • Most Opals consist of spheres of hydrated Silica less than 0.00025 mm in diameter. But precious Opals consist of larger silica spheres, which arrange in an orderly pattern creating spaces between the spheres.
  • An irregularly stacked, non-uniform in size opal, with no-show of colour, is called potch. This form of Opal is most often made up of silica spheres as tiny as 0.0001 mm in diameter. These hydrated Silica spheres are way too small for light to diffract. Potch is a common Opal and the nucleus for precious opal to form.
  • Smaller-sized spheres produce violet colours.
  • Medium-sized spheres create blues and greens.
  • The rare colour of red is the result of larger spheres 0.0003 mm in diameter.

What is Black Opal? – Characteristics (C’s) 

A Diamond has four characteristics (4 C’s), however, Opal has many features including:

Opal type

  • Black 
  • White
  • Crystal
  • Boulder
  • Matrix
  • Pineapple

Crystal Opal – is the only form of Opal that does not contain potch and is transparent when put up to light.

Body Tone 

  • The shade of the body
  • Darker tones display more vibrant colours

Brightness

  • Faint:  1/5
  • Dim:  2
  • Somewhat Bright:  2.5/5
  • Bright:  3/5
  • Quite Bright:  3.5/5
  • Very bright:  4/5  
  • Extremely Bright:  4.5/5
  • Brilliant:  5/5

Transparency

  • Opaque
  • Translucent
  • Transparent

Fire 

  • Predominant hue 50 – 70 percent
  • Secondary hue – 20 percent

Saturation 

  • The richness of colour

Distribution 

  • The depth and amount of fire

Directionality 

  • Display of colour when rotated

Pattern 

  • Large, vivid and clean adds value

Marks 

  • Marks and inclusions lower the value

Carat Weight  

  •  One carat (1 ct) = 200 mg  

Shape & Proportion

  • Symmetry and shape can have an influence on gemstone price.

BRAD’S SUMMARY

If you love gemstones you will love the Australian Black Opal. And within our website, you will find an amazing array of solid Black Opal Stones waiting for someone special like you to give them a home. Of all the different Opal types, the Black Opal is the most valuable because of its rarity and characteristics. Distinguished from other Opals by its darker body tone, the Black Opal actively enhances the refraction, diffraction, and reflection of light. And the most valued colour in Black Opal is the red fire which can fetch a price of up to Aud $20,000.00 for a carat.

what is black opal
brad@opalsnjewels.com

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you’ve enjoyed the information presented in this article.

For any questions, additional information or to make a comment, please do so in the comments box.

And finally, if you can let me know from which country you are from, that will be great.

Thanking you…


Related Links
Lightning Ridge black opal
Australian black opal pendants
Lightning Ridge opal mining

Australian Black Opal Stone

The Lightning Ridge Black Opal

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@opalsnjewels.com

brad opals n jewels
Brad

 

 

 

 

 


Related Links

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