Black Opals – Dark and Priceless
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Black opals are precious stones and the most expensive form of opal. A black opal is characterized by a black or dark body that is a part of the stone itself and is completely solid. In the case of Lightning Ridge black opal, the blackness arises from the occurrence of dark-colored iron oxide impurities in the opal potch background. In the case of boulder opal, the darkness comes from the boulder ironstone which is naturally attached to the opal foreground. Opal has the amazing ability to take the colors from the light spectrum, bend them and diffract them so that the result is breathtaking display of rainbow colors that differs with each opal.
Matrix opals, which contain fragments of opal mixed with the host rock, can also have really dark colors but are not classified as a black opal. Please check our opal encyclopaedia for further details of opal structure and origin.
Black Opal Patterns
Black opals come in a variety of patterns. Some of the commonly seen patterns are listed below:
- Blue flash shows areas of violet, indigo or intense blue within the opal
- Scotch plaid refers to a greenish-blue tinge in the opal
- Harlequin is an opal wherein the play of colors from light is visible from all angles and usually has a squarish shape
- Night stone – the opal’s color can be seen even in low light. This occurs in high quality opals
- Pinfire refers to the presence of pinprick sized spots of color
- Exploding flash contains single prominent blaze of color that seems to burst outwards when the stone is seen at various angles.
Most opals show a number of patterns in a single stone. The colors and the patterns change when the viewing angle changes.
Origin of Black Opals
Most black opals are mined from the Lightning Ridge area of New South Wales in Australia. Rough opals are cut and shaped to enhance their appearance. They may be sold as unset stones or in the form of opal jewelry, such as opal brooches, rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings etc. Black opals and boulder opals and are thus lovely options for both men and women’s jewelry.
Black opals are excellent choices for investments or gifts. When buying one for investment purposes, you should definitely buy a stone with minimal flaws and a rich deep shade of color, keeping in mind that it’s good to notice some natural flaws in the rear of the stone because this identifies it as a natural, non synthetic opal. A conventionally shaped circular, drop or oval black opal which can be easily set into jewelry. You should consider choosing black opals the next time you’re thinking of a gift for someone who has everything, it makes for a great gift.