Opal is Australia’s national gemstone; more than 95% of the world’s precious opal comes from Australia.
Opal takes hundreds of thousands of years to form and because of its popularity it has become extremely scarce as all deposits have become almost completely depleted which has forced up the price of solid opal, gem quality opal often surpasses diamonds in dollar per carat value; solid opal prices have increased 20% per annum on average over the last 20 years.
Opal is found in many states of Australia. South Australia occupies the famous mines of Cooper Pedy where many of the residents live underground. Andamooka is where opalized fossils that are millions of years old have been found and Mintabie is the newest opal field found in South Australia. In New South Wales there are the famous opal mines of Lightning Ridge this is the home of the world’s famous black opal and crystal opal. One of the oldest mines is also in New South Wales this is White Cliffs it has produced magnificent opal but is virtually a ghost town these days. Opal is also found in Western Queensland in Winton, Longreach, Opalton, Jundah, Quilpie, Eromanga, Cunnamulla and Yowah, the majority of the opal found in Queensland is called Boulder Opal and is unique in the world to this area, and it is less prone to cracking as it is on iron or sandstone.