‘The Olympic Australis‘ – Opal Field: Coober Pedy 1956, the world’s largest and most valuable gem opal $2,500,000. unpolished & uncut, 280mm long, 120mm thick, 115mm wide, 17,000 carats, 99% gem opal with even colour.
‘The “Aurora Australis’ – Opal Field: Lightning Ridge 1938, considered the world’s most valuable black opal. An oval cut with polished harlequin pattern dominated by red, green and blue colours against a black background. It weighs 180 carats, its dimensions are 3 inches x 1.8 inches. Dug from an old sea-bed it has the distinctive impression of a star fish on its back. Valued at AUD$1,000,000 in 2005.
‘Pride of Australia’ or ‘Red Emperor’ – Opal Field: Phone Line 1915, shaped like the continent with black and blue veins interlaced with brilliant red streaks.. The 2” x 3” opal has black and blue veins interlaced with brilliant red streaks. Considered “the greatest opal of Australia, and therefore the greatest opal in the world.
‘Empress of Australia’ – Opal Field: Phone Line 1915, first known as ‘Kaleidoscope Queen’, then ‘Tartan Queen’, this stone measured 3 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches in the rough weighing 500 carats. This stone slipped through the fingers of an admirer falling to the floor and breaking into two pieces.
The Andamooka Opal – Opal Field: Andamooka 1949, presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, also known as the Queen’s Opal or the Flame Queen weighs 263.18 carats (52.636 g) is triangular in shape, measuring 7.0 x 6.3 x 1.2 centimeters (2.75 x 2.50 x .50 inches).
The Addyman Plesiosaur – Opal Field: Andamooka, “the finest known opalised skeleton on Earth”
The Flame Queen Opal – Opal Field: Lightening Ridge 1914, the best-known example of “eye-of-opal”, an eye-like effect created when opal in-fills a cavity.
The Halley’s Comet Opal – Opal Field: Lightening Ridge 1986, the world’s largest uncut black opal
The Rainbow Virgin – Opal Field: Three Mile Coober Pedy 2003, Black Crystal Gem Quality Opal, Belemnite Fossil in a ‘pipe’ shape, weighing in at 72.65 carats, 63.3mm.
The Black Prince – Opal Field: Phone Line Lightning Ridge 1915, also known as ‘Harlequin Prince’, 181 carats, the opal exhibits a flag pattern on one side and is red on the other side, the face of the opal is marked by a sand hole.
Dazzling the world market
Australian Opal was dazzling the world market back in the 1890’s, gems with such brilliant plays of colour where a rare sight, so much so that suspicion was raised and rumors where spread that it was not genuine. The opals were competing with other gems on the European market , the gem dealers, especially the diamond sellers were threatened by the superior opal. At one point the opal market had taken over all other jewel and diamond markets in Europe. It is told that the diamond traders set about spreading rumors to give opal a bad name.. . . . . . . . . . . when in fact it is known as the ‘Great Power Stone’
In 1889, Wollaston set sail for England with a parcel of
Queensland opal. London gem merchants were unaccustomed to the brilliant Queensland gems and refused to purchase them. Wollaston persisted until the firm Hasluck Bros, of Hatton Garden , agreed to trial the stones in Europe and America . Before long Australian Opal had been introduced to famous jewellery houses that began to feature opal in their designs, these included Tiffany, Lalique, and Cartier. Wollaston established many markets for Australian opal. He died in 1931, a wealthy man. Australia now produces around 95 per cent of the world’s opal supply. Australian opal is prized the world over, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Tullie Wollaston.
FAMOUS OPAL LOVERS
The rich and famous have been attracted to the opal since its discovery.
- Mark Antony gifted opal to his lover Cleopatra.
- Napoleone di Buonaparte presented his Empress Josephine a magnificent red opal containing brilliant red flashes called “the burning of troy’.
- Queen Victoria (24/05/1819 – 22/01/1901) was a lover of opal with a fine personal collection, she wore opal throughout her reign.
- Elizabeth Taylor is well known for her opal love.
- Andy Warhol the modern artist was an avid collector of opal.
- John D Rockerfeller – Americas first billionaire is said to have drawn inspiration from his rare and famous opal gemstones.
- The King of Rock ‘n Roll – Elvis Presley was well known for his 1970’s chunky gold ring which featured a solid crystal opal.
- Actor Brad Pitt purchased opal for his first wife, actress Jennifer Aniston.
- The opal is one of Victoire de Castellane’s favorite gemstones, and has been present in Dior jewellery collections from the very beginning.
“His creations changed the way we look at art and it’s so fitting that he loved opal“
Andy Warhol was best known for being a leader of the pop art movement, an art movement that emerged in the 1950’s and prompted renewed attitudes toward art and mass culture.
He was also known for his sharp wit, his films and prints, and his unique sense of style, but few people know that Andy was an opal collector!
Andy’s fascination with opal began in 1970 when Australian artist Laurence Hope showed him his prized opal pendant at a reception in London. Laurence later stated that Warhol “Fell in love with it, now collects them.” It didn’t take Andy long to build an impressive collection of opals.
Andy’s artistic eye was drawn to the flashing and shifting colors within an opal. He liked the way these precious gemstones changed their appearance as you moved them around. He saw the unparalleled visual interest an opal commands compared to that of other gemstones. Opals were something he wanted to study; something he wanted to paint and capture the essence of.
Ref: hello opal — Opals in Vogue: Andy Warhol. hello-opal.tumblr.com