The Australian National Gemstone -The Opal was proclaimed Australia’s national gemstone on 28 July 1993.
Australia is the world leader in opal production and produces 95 per cent of the precious gemstone. As such, opal is regarded Australia’s national gemstone.
The gem is known in Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs, New South Wales; Mintabie, Coober Pedy; Andamooka, South Australia; and in several areas in Queensland such as the Quilpie district, Yowah district and the Winton district.
(A small quantity is also produced in Brazil. Mexico and the US state of Oregon produce a volcanic opal called fire opal – a gem with a body colour of oranges and reds).
Australian Opal; Hardness: 5.5 to 6.5Variety of: opal is a form of hydrated silica(SiO2.nH2O) and precious opal usually contains six to 10 per cent water.
In the 1960s, a team of Australian scientists working for the CSIRO analysed opals with an electron microscope to determine the cause of the gem’s unique colour play. They discovered that small spheres from silica gel caused interference and refraction manifestations. The spheres succeed in dissecting the light on its passage through the gemstone and turning it into all the colours of the rainbow.
- NASA discovered Opal deposits on Mars in 2008
- And in 2016 the first ever opalised pearls where found in Dora Gully, Coober Pedy SA
- The world’s largest and most valuable gem quality opal was found in Coober Pedy SA in 1956, named the Olympic Australis it is a whopping 17,000 carats of 99% gem quality opal with an even colour play.
- Opal is the birthstone for people born in October (or under the signs of Libra & Scorpio) “Octobers child is born for woe, and life’s vicissitudes must she know; but lay an Opal on her breast, and hope will lull those woes to rest.” – Jerry Smith
- Traditionally Opal is the gift given for a 14th Wedding Anniversary.
- Opal was proclaimed Australia’s National Gemstone on 27th July 1993
- Opal is the official Gemstone of the state of South Australia
- Black Opal was proclaimed the state gemstone and new emblem of New south wales on the 7th May 2008
- The Australian National women’s Basketball team are called ‘The Opals’
Opals are often referred to as the fire of the desert – a mesmerizing display of all the colours of the rainbow.