Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The 7 Most Precious Opals in the World

Opals, renowned for their breathtaking beauty and kaleidoscopic colors, are among the most coveted gemstones in the world. With their unique ability to diffract light and produce a dazzling array of hues, opals have fascinated jewelers and collectors for centuries. This article delves into the stories and characteristics of the seven most precious opals, each of which stands as a testament to the natural wonder and rarity of these gems.

1. The Virgin Rainbow

One of the most extraordinary opals ever discovered is the Virgin Rainbow. Found in Coober Pedy, South Australia, this opal is celebrated for its vibrant spectrum of colors and the remarkable brightness of its hues. The Virgin Rainbow was unearthed by opal miner John Dunstan in 2003. What makes this opal so unique is its exceptional play-of-color, displaying an intense array of reds, greens, blues, and purples that seem to glow even in dim light.

Opals like the Virgin Rainbow are incredibly rare due to the perfect combination of silica spheres within the stone, which causes the diffraction of light that results in such vivid colors. The Virgin Rainbow measures about 6 inches in length and is valued at over a million dollars. Its name is derived from its immaculate condition and the almost supernatural brilliance of its colors, making it a prime example of why opals are considered such precious gemstones.

2. The Olympic Australis

The Olympic Australis is another legendary opal that hails from the renowned opal fields of Coober Pedy. Discovered in 1956, this opal is considered the largest and most valuable gem opal ever found. Weighing in at an astounding 17,000 carats (or 7.6 kilograms), the Olympic Australis is composed almost entirely of gem-quality opal, with a purity and color play that is unparalleled.

The significance of the Olympic Australis in the opal world cannot be overstated. Its discovery was a landmark event, shedding light on the potential size and quality of opals that could be found in Australia. This opal exhibits a full spectrum of colors, with flashes of red, blue, green, and gold, making it a truly mesmerizing sight. The value of the Olympic Australis is estimated to be around $2.5 million, reflecting its size, quality, and the rich history of opals in Australia.

3. The Flame Queen

The Flame Queen is perhaps one of the most famous and distinctive opals in the world, known for its striking “eye-of-opal” effect. Discovered in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, in 1914, this opal is notable for its rare and unusual appearance. The Flame Queen features a dome-shaped cabochon with a vivid red-orange color at its center, surrounded by a halo of blue and green hues, creating the illusion of a fiery eye.

The unique structure of the Flame Queen is a result of the interplay between the opal’s different layers, which create a stunning visual effect. Opals like the Flame Queen are highly prized not only for their beauty but also for their rarity and the exceptional skill required to cut and polish them to perfection. Valued at over $900,000, the Flame Queen remains a symbol of the mystical allure and the unparalleled craftsmanship associated with opals.

4. The Aurora Australis

Discovered in Lightning Ridge in 1938, the Aurora Australis is renowned as the world’s most valuable black opal. Black opals are particularly prized for their dark body tone, which provides a dramatic backdrop for the vibrant play-of-color. The Aurora Australis weighs 180 carats and is distinguished by its vivid rainbow pattern, which resembles the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis, from which it gets its name.

Opals like the Aurora Australis are formed under unique geological conditions, which contribute to their rarity and value. The deep blue and green colors that dominate the stone are interspersed with flashes of red and yellow, creating a breathtaking effect that has captivated collectors and gem enthusiasts. The Aurora Australis is valued at around $1 million, making it a benchmark for the value and beauty of black opals.

5. The Andamooka Opal

The Andamooka Opal is another remarkable gem, notable for its size and striking color patterns. Discovered in the Andamooka opal fields of South Australia, this opal has an illustrious history, having been presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 during her first official visit to Australia. Weighing 203 carats, the Andamooka Opal is a fine example of a matrix opal, where precious opal is found interspersed within a host rock.

What sets the Andamooka Opal apart is its exquisite display of color, featuring brilliant flashes of red, green, and blue against a lighter matrix background. Opals from the Andamooka fields are known for their robust color play and unique patterns, making them highly sought after by collectors. The historical significance and the sheer beauty of the Andamooka Opal contribute to its estimated value of over $1 million.

6. The Galaxy Opal

The Galaxy Opal is a magnificent gem that truly lives up to its celestial name. Discovered in Brazil, this opal weighs an impressive 3,749 carats, making it one of the largest uncut opals in the world. The Galaxy Opal’s appearance is akin to a cosmic scene, with swirling patterns of blue, green, and purple that mimic the vast expanse of the universe.

Opals like the Galaxy Opal are rare finds, not only because of their size but also due to the clarity and intensity of their colors. This particular opal has captivated gem enthusiasts with its otherworldly beauty and the complexity of its patterns. The Galaxy Opal’s immense size and striking visual appeal place its value at over $2.5 million, underscoring the allure of large, high-quality opals in the gem market.

7. The Black Prince Opal

The Black Prince Opal, discovered in Lightning Ridge in 1915, is one of the most storied opals in history. This opal is famed for its deep black body tone, which provides a stark contrast to its vibrant flashes of red, blue, and green. Weighing 181 carats, the Black Prince Opal is renowned for its intense color play and the dramatic effect it produces.

Opals with such a dark body tone are particularly rare and highly valued in the gemstone market. The Black Prince Opal’s rich history and exceptional quality make it a centerpiece in any collection. Its estimated value exceeds $1 million, reflecting the premium placed on black opals and their unique aesthetic appeal.


Opals are among the most precious and captivating gemstones in the world, with each stone telling a unique story of natural wonder and human ingenuity. The seven opals highlighted in this article—the Virgin Rainbow, the Olympic Australis, the Flame Queen, the Aurora Australis, the Andamooka Opal, the Galaxy Opal, and the Black Prince Opal—represent the pinnacle of what this remarkable gemstone has to offer. From their geological origins to their cultural significance and market value, opals continue to fascinate and inspire those who are fortunate enough to encounter their dazzling beauty. Whether set in fine jewelry or displayed as collector’s items, these precious opals stand as enduring symbols of nature’s artistry and the timeless allure of gemstones.

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