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Boulder opals are a much sought after form of opal that are found in western Queensland, inside ironstone boulders. The brown ironstone may contain veins or small pockets of opal randomly within it. These opal-containing boulders are then carefully cut to determine the direction of the color, then gradually the opal cutter will slice the material in such a way that the dark ironstone is left in the background of the opal, thus ensuring that a black opal is produced. If all the ironstone was taken off the opal, it would be a light opal.
Seam and Matrix Boulder Opals
Boulder opals also come in matrix form. This means that the ironstone is impregnated with lots of small opal flecks. In the “matrix” type, the opal is seamlessly integrated into the body of the host rock and the stone is cut as it is with these precious opal inclusions. Please go to the opal encyclopedia on this site for a full description of boulder and matrix opal.
Patterns in Boulder Opals
This form of opal is considered very precious due to its exclusive form, and there are probably millions of different wavy and abstract patterns in these magnificent pieces. The industry still finds it hard to describe these amazing opals. In the past, the less expensive forms of these stones were called ‘fun stones’ which really didn’t describe anything about them. We have opted to use the term ‘Abstract opal’ on this site because, as the name implies, they are like an abstract oil painting. Some abstracts are very attractive and command a lot of money even though in many cases they cannot be identified with known images. With boulder opals it’s a similar case. Some are called ‘picture stones’ because the patterns remind the observer of some sort of picture in nature, but the greater amount of these opals are more abstract and not associated with any known image.
High-quality boulder opals are considered priceless for their natural beauty and the unique nature of each piece. Due to their high value, they are great choices for an investment. For most folks, one of the amazing abstract stones will suit, at a price that will not break your pocket. But make sure you buy a high-quality specimen when buying boulder opals for investment purposes.