Rock Discoveries

The Ultimate Guide to Opal’s Value Factors and Pricing

Opal, a gemstone known for its unique color and mesmerizing play-of-color, has captivated people’s hearts for centuries. With endless varieties to choose from, it can be challenging to identify which factors make an opal valuable.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on opal’s value factors, look no further. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about opal’s categories, value factors, and price comparisons.

Opal Categories

Before diving into opal’s value factors, let’s first understand its categories. There are six types of opals: black opal, white opal, crystal opal, water opal, boulder opal, and fire opal.

Black opal is the rarest and most valuable type of opal, with a dark body tone that enhances its play-of-color. White opal, on the other hand, has a light background color, making its play-of-color more visible.

Crystal opal is highly transparent, allowing for a unique color play. Water opal has a blue or colorless body tone, which makes its play-of-color appear like a reflection on the water.

Boulder opal, found in Queensland, Australia, is formed in ironstone boulders, creating a natural pattern on the stone. Lastly, fire opal is a translucent gemstone with a bright orange or red body color.

Opal Value Factors

Now that we have a basic understanding of opal’s categories, let’s discuss the factors that determine its value:

1. Color – The most crucial factor in valuing opals is their color.

Vivid and intense hues, especially red and blue combinations, are highly sought after. The color of an opal influences its play-of-color, making it pop or appear dull.

2. Play-of-color – The play-of-color describes the movement of spectral hues created by the diffraction of light as it passes through the opal.

The more visible and vibrant the play-of-color, the more valuable the opal. 3.

Pattern – Patterns refer to the formation of the play-of-color within the opal. The most desired patterns are harlequin, peacock, pinfire, flame, and rolling flash, to name a few.

4. Clarity – Clarity refers to the number and size of inclusions, fractures, and crazing on the opal’s surface.

A flawless opal is rare, and those with few visible inclusions are more valuable. 5.

Brightness – Brightness refers to the intensity and sharpness of the play-of-color. 6.

Country Origin – Some countries produce more valuable opals than others. Australia is known for its high-quality black opals, while Mexico is known for its bright oranges and reds.

7. Absence of Treatment – Natural opals are more valuable than those treated or enhanced with chemicals.

Opal Price Comparison

Opals are a great alternative to diamonds or gold. Here’s how their prices compare:


Opal vs Diamonds – While diamonds are the most sought-after gemstones, opals offer a more affordable alternative. For example, a one-carat diamond could cost thousands of dollars, while a one-carat opal can cost anywhere from $20 to few hundred dollars, depending on its value factors.

2. Opal vs Gold – Gold has a fixed price based on its purity and weight.

Opal, on the other hand, varies in price depending on its value factors. An opal’s worth can range from a few dollars to several thousands.

Color, Pattern, and Clarity

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into opal’s color, pattern, and clarity:

1. Color – An opal’s body color influences the intensity of its play-of-color.

Black opals, with a dark body color, increase the vividness of the play-of-color, while white opals emphasize the hues’ brightness. Notably, red and blue hues are highly sought after, as they’re rare and enhance the opal’s value.

2. Pattern – Patterns describe the arrangement of the play-of-color within the opal.

Harlequin patterns, which create a mosaic-like appearance, are the most valuable, while peacock and pinfire patterns are popular too. The size and distribution of patches also add to an opal’s character.

3. Clarity – Opals are categorized as transparent, translucent, or opaque.

The most valuable opals are transparent and have few visible inclusions, making their play-of-color more visible. Fractures and crazing can add to the opal’s character but should not be excessive.


In conclusion, opal’s value factors are complex and influenced by various elements, including color, pattern, clarity, brightness, country origin, and whether it’s been treated. Understanding these factors can help you determine an opal’s worth and avoid overpaying for low-quality stones.

Keep in mind that opals are a unique gemstone, making their variety of categories and value factors critical in assessing their true worth. 3) Opal’s Brightness, Shape, and Source

Opals are one of the most unique gemstones known for their stunning colors and mesmerizing play-of-color.

To understand opal’s true value, we need to consider various factors that influence its worth. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into opal’s brightness, shape, and source.

Brightness Factor

Opal’s brightness is a crucial factor in determining its value. The Australian Opal Association has divided the brightness of opals into the following subdivisions:


Bright Opal – Displays a bright, even body color throughout the stone with a play-of-color that is easily visible. 2.

Semi-Black Opal – The body color is darker than a bright opal, lessening the brightness of the play-of-color. 3.

Black Opal – The darkest of all opals, a black opal shows a play-of-color that is evocative and intense. 4.

Boulder Opal – Boulder opals have a natural ironstone or rock matrix on its surface, adding contrast to the play-of-color.

Shape Factor

Opals come in various shapes, the most common of which is the cabochon cut. The cabochon cut, which has a flat base and a domed top, accentuates the play-of-color.

High-domed cabochon cut opals have the greatest value among opal buyers. Other shapers that add character to opals are freeform and fancy cuts.

Freeform opals have irregular shapes that do not conform to any specific fashion. Fancy cuts, on the other hand, have more sophisticated trimmings that render them valuable to collectors.

Source Factor

Opals come from many regions worldwide, each with its own unique characteristics and value factors. Here are some of the most notable opal sources:


Australian Opals –

Australian Opals are highly valuable and account for 95% of the world’s precious opal production. The revered black opals hail from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, while the white opals came mostly from Coober Pedy, South Australia.

Boulder opals come from Quilpie, Winton, and Koroit, Queensland. 2.

Ethiopian Opals –

Ethiopian opals are currently gaining traction in the opal market for their unique orange and yellow hues. Also, the opals from this region are transparent with little to no inclusions that detract from the stone’s value.

3. Mexican Opals –

Mexican opals are known for their vivid oranges and reds and can range from crystal-clear to opaque.

They can be found in Guerrero, Queretaro, and Hidalgo. 4.

Other Sources –

Other opal sources include Oregon and Nevada in the US, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, and Indonesia. 4) Opal’s Value and Price

Opals are valued based on a variety of factors such as origin, color, pattern, clarity, brightness, and size.

Here’s a breakdown of opal’s value, range, and price:

Opal Price Range

Opal’s prices are dictated by a variety of factors, including the quality of the opal, its origin, and the current demand. Opals are measured by carat or grams, and their prices can range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars per carat or gram.

The price per ounce, pound, and kilo can be calculated based on these measurements.

Opal Value by Color and Origin

The value of an opal is determined based on its origin, color, pattern, clarity, brightness, and size. The most valuable opals are those with an intense, vibrant play-of-color, and those without a visible inclusions.

Here’s a breakdown of the opal value based on their color and origin:

1. Black Opal – The most expensive type of opal, black opals from Lightning Ridge, Australia, can fetch $10,000 or more per carat.

2. White Opal – Coober Pedy, South Australia, is famous for white opals, which cost anywhere from $10 to $500 per carat, depending on their quality.

3. Fire Opal – Mexican fire opals, with intense oranges and yellows, are less valuable than Australian black opals or white opals but still command a reasonable price.

4. Other Opals – The value of other opals depends on various factors like their origin, color, and pattern.

The pineapple opal from Brazil, the rainbow opal from Peru, and green opal from Honduras are highly valued.

Where to Buy Real Opal Stones

Opal buyers have several options for buying opals, including local jewelry stores, online retailers, and direct purchases from opal deposits. It’s essential to research and know the characteristics of an opal before buying it.

It’s also crucial to determine the authenticity of an opal before making a purchase. Look for sellers that provide certificates of authenticity that confirm that the stone is real.

In conclusion, to assess the true value of an opal, we must consider various factors such as brightness, shape, color, pattern, origin, and clarity. The price of opals can vary widely depending on these factors; however, purchasing opals from accredited sources can ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth.



Opal is a unique gemstone that is prized for its variation in color and mesmerizing play-of-color. It’s essential to understand the factors that determine an opal’s value before making a purchase, as there is a vast range of prices for opals in the market.

In this section, we’ll discuss opal’s range of colors and the method of value determination. Opal’s Range of Colors

Opals come in a vast array of colors, each with its unique charm and value.

Opals can be found in every color of the rainbow and various hues, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Australian black opals are known for their deep blues and greens, while Ethiopian opals have yellows, oranges, and greens that are unique in their hue.

White opals from Coober Pedy, South Australia, are known for their body color, which ranges from crystal clear to white, while Mexican fire opals have an intense orange hue that’s reminiscent of autumn. Pineapple opals from Brazil have a soft, iridescent yellow-green color, and black opals from Lightning Ridge have a deep, rich blue-green base color.

Value Determination

Opal’s value is determined by a combination of various factors. These factors include the color, pattern, brightness, clarity, origin, and size of the stone.

The following are some specific criteria that are used to determine an opal’s value:

1. Body Color – An opal’s body color determines its hue and provides a backdrop to its play-of-color.

A darker body tone, such as in black opals, enhances the brightness of the play-of-color and makes it more vivid. 2.

Play-of-Color – The more visible and vibrant an opal’s play-of-color, the more valuable it is. 3.

Pattern – The pattern is the arrangement of the play-of-color within an opal and includes harlequin, rolling flash, peacock, and more. A harlequin pattern, with a mosaic-like arrangement, is the most valuable.

4. Clarity – Like other gemstones, opals with fewer visible inclusions and blemishes have higher value.

5. Brightness – The brightness of an opal refers to the intensity and sharpness of the play-of-color.

Australian black opals are famous for their intense brightness. 6.

Origin – Opals from specific places, like black opals from Lightning Ridge, add to the stone’s value because of rarity. 7.

Size – Larger opals are rarer and command a higher value than smaller ones.

Opal Prices

Opal’s prices can range drastically depending on the aforementioned value factors. Prices often vary depending on the rarity of opal’s type and origin.

Fine-quality black opals from Lightning Ridge can sell for thousands of dollars per carat, while white opals from Coober Pedy may sell for a few hundred dollars per carat. Mexican fire opals can range from $5 to $350 per carat.

Additionally, opals prices also depend on the shape and cut. High-domed opals, such as black opals from Lightning Ridge with their bold colors and high brilliance, command a higher price than more traditional cabochon shapes with lower domes.

In conclusion, opals’ value is determined by factors such as color, pattern, brightness, clarity, origin, and size. Understanding these factors will help you assess the value of an opal before purchasing it.

Keep in mind that while opals come in a vast array of colors, prices can vary hugely depending on the rarity and quality of the stone. Make sure to buy from reputable sources and invest in certification of authenticity to get the most value for your money.

Opal is a unique gemstone that captivates the hearts of millions across the globe. Its value is determined by an array of elements such as color, pattern, brightness, clarity, origin, and size.

Understanding these factors can help you determine and assess the genuine worth of an opal. Make sure to buy from reputable sources with a certificate of authenticity to guarantee that you’re getting your money’s worth.

Opal’s diverse range of colors and patterns, combined with its shimmering play-of-color and beauty, makes it a precious gemstone that will endure over time. FAQs:

Q: What is the most valuable opal?

A: The black opal from Lightning Ridge, Australia, is the most valuable opal. Q: What are the factors that determine an opal’s value?

A: An opal’s value is determined by color, pattern, brightness, clarity, origin, and size. Q: Where do opals come from?

A: Opals come from many countries worldwide, with the majority from Australia, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Q: What is the price range for opals?

A: Opal’s prices range widely from a few dollars to thousands of dollars per carat or gram, depending on the stone’s characteristics. Q: What is the best way to ensure the authenticity of an opal?

A: Buy from reputable sources and look for a certificate of authenticity to guarantee its authenticity.

Popular Posts