"Black Opals For Sale ...." these were the written signs that greeted me on my very first trip to the "fabled" Lightning Ridge back in 1972.
Hand-scribbled and painted signs hung over the doors of thrown-together
mining huts, tree trunks and from posts erected on the edge of
mining claims. Finally I had arrived after a tortuous journey over
many, many potholed and deeply corrugated dirt roads.
All this discomfort was quickly forgotten in my excitement at finally arriving at the place of my dreams..... black opal was my first love and here I was, able to talk first hand to the opal miners and characters that made up the essence of Lightning Ridge.
Entering their handbuilt huts was a great experience.... to see bottles of black potch with color, sitting on roughly erected shelving and cards with black opal and crystal opal of all different sizes and prices, hanging off nails on the walls - was something else again !
Those memories of my first trip to Lightning Ridge, the home of black opals for sale, have never left me, nor the excitement and pleasure of cutting and polishing this fabled Gem.
Though many love to cut larger and more valuable Black Opal Gems, (myself included !), I still get a lot of pleasure cutting and polishing even the smallest black opal gemstone.
For me personally, black opal is black opal, even finely cut and polished 5 x 3mm Gems are items of value and beauty and still very functional as companion or shoulder gemstones.
What Makes Black Opal So Precious..... ?
A Black opal is a natural solid opal stone with a black or nearly black body tone (background).
Black opal or opal with a dark base shows more of the brilliant play of colours of an opal.
By closing one's eyes and squinting at the face of the stone all other colours are ignored and the "body tone" (darkness level of the opal) can be seen more clearly, showing the depth of the "blackness" of the stone.
The term Black Opal is somewhat misleading as the opal is not 'black' in colour, but has a very dark base body colour, which enhances the brilliance of the diffracted colours.
An opal is considered a Black Opal only when it is in the depths of N1 to N4, then escalating down to Dark and Light opals.
Black Opal...N1 to N4..........Dark Opal N5-6........Light Opal N7-N9....
More Black Opal Facts....
* It is the most rare and valuable type of opal.
* Black opal is a naturally occurring solid opal with a coloured face and black body colour.
* Black opal has a dark body tone which gives the colour greater intensity and vibrancy.
* The word 'black' doesn't refer to the colours displayed by the opal but the natural black potch underneath and/or highlighting the natural opal colours. Potch is common opal, i.e opal without colour.
* Black opal comes in every colour of the rainbow and no two stones are alike.
* A Personal Note on Black Opal:
" It is very unfortunate fact that there have been individuals in the opal industry who have at times misinformed opal buyers about some of the facts about Black Opal.
Some people advertise black opal triplets. Once it is a triplet - it loses any claim to being black opal!
Another one is black opal doublets - this one really is a point of contention. Only, and only if,the opal sits on black potch naturally (even if thin) and then it is bonded to other material, can it be classed as a black opal doublet.
Simply being opal from Lightning Ridge and glued to black potch does not make the piece a black opal doublet! " (Peter @ Opals-On-Black)
** For more Black Opal Information, see our Opal Questions page!
Official Gemstone of New South Wales !
(Quotation from N.S.W. State Parliament 2008)
"Black Opal is to become the New South Wales State's Official Gemstone emblem.
Black opals rank with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires as among the most valuable gemstones in the world," the NSW's premier said.
"Given the NSW town of Lightning Ridge is one of only two places in the world where the black opal is mined, and it is the world’s major commercial producer of the gemstone, it is appropriate that we formally recognise its importance to the State.
"That’s why the New South Wales Government will amend the State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act to include the black opal.