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Jewelry As Art Inc

Opals of the World

Posted by Danny Mosco on

Continuing on with the theme of the month, we will discuss another topic surrounding opals. Did you know that there are many different kinds of opals, and that opals can be found all across the world. It turns out that while Australia's opal production dominates the opal market (around 95% or so of the world's supply), there are other opals out there that come from places you would normally not even think about. Let's examine some of the lesser known, overshadowed opals of the world.

Ethiopian Opal:

Ethiopian opals obviously come from the country they are named for, Ethiopia. It wasn't until 1994 when opals were discovered in Ethiopia, and later there were more discoveries in 2008 and 2013. Now you can find all kinds of opals coming from there, from precious to fire opals, to black opals. Furthermore, opals from Ethiopia are usually cheaper than their Australian counterparts, so they make for a great choice among opal seekers. Ethiopian opals come from the Shewa province, and 2 different regions of the Wollo province. Most of the opals from the Wollo province have orange and reddish tones in them.

Mexican Opal:

The opals from Mexico are known for their fiery, orange hues that radiate with color. There are some examples of opals that display this fiery color, and also the brilliant play of color of a precious opal. Those sorts of specimens are typically rare, so what you commonly see is what is called a cantera opal. Most opals found in Mexico are embedded into a rock called rhyolite, and because it is difficult to extract the opal from the rock without causing any damage, it is often just cut into a cabochon with the rhyolite still part of it. 

Peruvian Opal:

What makes Peruvian opals distinct from all other opals is their lack of play of color, which is the sensation that happens when various colors in the stone radiate in a neon, kaleidoscope type way. Peruvian opals are solid colors, coming in blue and pink. These opals are usually made into cabochons and beads.

Brazilian Opal:

Brazilian opals come from the Northeast region of Brazil in the state Piaua, and are not mined on a large industrial scale, but with generators and even hand digging. Because opals from Brazil have a much lower moisture content than other opals, they have crystal opals that have otherwise unusual fire colors not seen in other opals. Most of the opals are semi-transparent to see-through. There is only a small amount of black opals that come from Brazil.

And those are just a few examples, but there are even more than that! Next time you are looking for opals, considering looking for some of these kinds and you will most likely find something that really catches your eye. 

Sources used:

  • opals
  • world opals
  • ethiopian opal
  • mexican opal
  • fire opal
  • peruvian opal
  • brazilian opal
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