For more than 6000 years, people value Opal stone as one of the most mesmerizing gemstones. Jewelers started making opal jewelry in Ethiopia back in 4000 BC. From that time to today, many things changed except the beauty of opal gemstone.
Figuring out the value of natural precious opal stone is an art in itself. Unlike diamonds, rubies, and other gemstones where you can put their color, grade, and clarity in the table and finds their price, opals are entirely different. They are creations of divine beauty, and every single opal stone is slightly different. Each opal stone is an individual with distinct properties.
Before figuring out the opal gemstone price, you need to know more about three different types of opals: Natural Opal (most expensive), Synthetic Opals (lab-created opals), and Imitations (Faux Opal).
Natural Opal Price
The price per carat of natural opal stones ranges from $20 per carat up to $5,000 per carat depending on its clarity, shine, the play of color, quality, size, translucency, opacity, etc. Considering that every single opal stone is unique, you will need a professional to evaluate the opal price. Best opal gems are often priced per carat just as sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and even diamonds.
One of the biggest producers of natural Opal is Australia, with massive mines all around the continent. Mexico is also a vast producer that is known worldwide for its fire opal production. Ethiopia is a significant producer known for its precious opal and fire opal production. Other countries that produce opals are Hungary, Brazil, Honduras, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Indonesia.
Synthetic Opals (Lab-Created Opal)
Synthetic opals are human-made, lab-created manufactured stones. The leading manufacturer is Kyocera Corporation from Japan. They are leading opal producers since the 1990s, and they make high-quality gems. Compared to natural opals, lab-created opal stones have the same chemical composition, structure, and physical properties. Even though they are similar to natural stones, there are some differences.
From a price point, lab-created opals are cheaper, and when bought in large quantities, their price is as low as a few dollars for each stone. Since lab-created gems are stunning, they are often used in jewelry and for making many items.
Faux Opal (Opal Imitation)
Faux Opal is also a man-made stone that is created to simulate natural opal gemstone. As opposed to lab-created ones, imitations do not have properties similar to a natural gemstone. They are visibly different and often made from plastic, glass, or resin. Some of them are better imitations and exhibit play of color, just like in natural opal stone. Even though they are low-cost imitations, they are sold for a few dollars per stone.
Opal Types, Varieties, and Colors
There are two main types of Opal Gemstones: Precious and Common. Precious Opal is used in jewelry for creating the most fantastic ring, earring, necklace, and bracelet designs. Common Opal is not commonly used in jewelry.
Natural opals are found in many different colors ranging from black to white, green to blue, red to yellow, orange, honey, fire, crystal, and stripes. For this reason, gemologists sorted them into groups to help us all categorize all of them.
Gemologists and jewelers describe as “Precious Opal,” every gemstone that displays “play-of-color.” This phenomenon we define as a flash of bright light that we may see viewing the jewel. There are many varieties of precious opals, and they can be black, white, matrix, boulder, crystal, etc. To get the most of those stones, they need to be evaluated and examined before cutting. The main goal is to cut the stone to show off maximum brightness, color, and all beauty. Even though some specimens may cost over $500,000, the precious opal price per carat is, on average, from $10 to $6,000.
Common opals are often called “potch.” They represent the variety of opal stone that does not exhibit “play-of-color.” Their color varies from green, pink, white, blue, yellow, red, maroon, olive green, etc. Interestingly, common opals are not that common in jewelry since they are not widely known.
Black opals are in nature very rare, rarer than diamonds. Considering that every stone is unique, you may consider jewelry made from it to be “custom design.” In nature, we find black opals in a variety of different colors and patterns, with blue, green, red, yellow, and orange inclusions. Their price per carat varies from $30 to $12,000. Most valuable gemstones come with a dark body.
Compared to other varieties, Boulder Opal is very popular for its unique patterns and colors. This stone comes with ironstone traces. It is dark-colored and displays a fantastic play of color. Jewelers describe them as “black boulder” for their black color, but they can be found as brown and brown-red gems. Boulder opal price per carat ranges from $6 to $40 per carat.
Fire opal is a mesmerizing opal variety that is recognizable for its bright yellow color with a red or orange background. This is a very transparent and clear stone that is priced according to those factors. Price often ranges from $50 to over $10,000 per carat. Fire opal is prone to damage, scratching, and breaking since it is not that hard.
White Opal, also known as milky Opal and light opal, is mostly used in jewelry for its beauty. It is a precious stone that is mined in Australia and Slovakia. This gem comes with pale or light white, creamy, and yellow color. They display mesmerizing play of color. People consider them to be less vibrant as they don’t show inside dominant colors. Compared to other types, their price is lower because they are pretty standard. Those stones are not that expensive, and the top price per carat can reach $400.
When opal stone is diffused with fillings inside holes and pores of the main stone, those mixtures make them shine and look like the host rock. Since they can display a play of color, cutters must carefully examine every specimen and cut them in the best possible way. That is how we get the Matrix Opal gemstone jewelry.
This term is used to describe transparent, semi-translucent to translucent opal gems that display color inside the stone. Most commonly, they are faceted. If the light can pass through the gemstone and see through it – you are looking and crystal opal. They come in different colors and can be white, black, blue, orange, etc. When talking about their value, their price can go up to $2,500 per carat.
Jewelers use Blue Opal for making fabulous beads and cabochons. The best-known variety of blue Opals is found in Peru, followed by Oregon and Indonesia. The color of this variety often ranges from light to dark blue. In most cases, they are pastel with translucent areas. Their price per carat is usually around $50, but specimens with bright patterns can reach up to $400 per carat.
Like most opal varieties, Pink Opal is pretty delicate and often used to make beautiful jewelry designs. Those gems are translucent to opaque, with mesmerizing pink hue and luster. They are pretty durable, so jewelry made from pink gems should last a long time. Pink Opals are pretty cheeped, and their price is around $4 to $8 per carat. Of course, specimens with exceptional quality may cost a lot more.
Healing Properties and Benefits
People believe that Opal is an emotional gemstone that reflects the mood of the person wearing it. The healing properties of this stone are associated with enhancing mystical vision, strengthens memory, encourages creativity, brings loyalty and faith. It is also believed that it can ease stress, restless thoughts, improves sleeping and dreams. People often wear it for protection, emotional support, love, passion, and healing.