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Opal Information

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With "the fire of the carbuncle, the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea green color of the emerald, all shining together in incredible union" opal clearly impressed Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Roman historian and author of the world's first encyclopedia.  The Romans had been wearing opals for centuries and considered them a symbol of hope and purity while for the early Greeks they embodied the powers of foresight and prophecy. The more fancifully minded Arabs thought that opals must have fallen from heaven in flashes of lightning thus achieving their unique play of color or "opalescence".

Amazingly this opal escence is a result of the 5-10% of water trapped inside the stone in which rows and rows of tiny spheres of silicon dioxide are arranged, diffracting light in a unique fashion.

Opal has also featured in literature with Shakespeare referring to it in Twelfth Night as "the queen of gems". A real queen had to intervene in the near destruction of the 19th century opal market when Sir Walter Scott's Anne of Geierstein started a superstition that opals were bad luck for people not born in October. The novel's heroine owned an opal that burned fiery red when she was angry and turned ashen gray upon her death. Queen Victoria finally dispelled the curse by giving opal jewelry as gifts at a royal wedding.
 Click HERE for opal jewelry


What are Yowah Opals and Where do They Come From?

Yowah opals come from the township of Yowah in Queensland, Australia.  The township, built on the Yowah Opal Mining Field, is 150 km north west of Cunnamulla.  It has a population of approximately 60 people.  This number increases to over 250 people during the winter months.

The first lease was registered in 1883 and opal has been mined on the field since that time.  The field is renowned for its Yowah Nuts, small hollow ironstone concretions, a small percentage of which contain a kernel of pretty crystal opal.

The field also has magnificent matrix which is a unique type of opal, usually formed within the outer shell of the Yowah Nuts and when cut makes an elegant gem.

Some 25 kms south of Yowah is the small field of Black Gate and the Leopardwood mine.  This area has ironstone opal similar to that found at Yowah, black boulder opal and crystal opal and well as some interesting fossils.


Koroit Opals

Koroit opals come from Koroit, Queensland.  Koroit mines began to produce opals around  1897. Only a handful of miners poked around the sandstone levels of an ancient sea that lay beneath the surface. Some prospecting, drilling, shafts, and drives were accomplished yielding little opal for the work expended. A hundred years ago, no one seemed interested in the matrix opal in the shallower levels as the market demanded seam opal and light and crystal opal not thin lines of opal running through an ironstone matrix.

Today, the demand for ironstone matrix opal has significantly increased!  With prices skyrocketing.  The beautiful pockets of color intermingled in the ironstone makes for a unique look. The patterns they create have an Aboriginal look.  We love the natural beauty of these simple, yet artistic gems!


Yowah Opal

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