wpe50.jpg (1913 bytes)    TigerSoft News Service    3/29/2008        Visit our www.tigersoft.com   
                     by William Schmidt, Ph.D.
  (C) 2008 All rights reserved. 

          Beautiful Colors for Your Enjoyment.  See also our American Turquoise: A Journey through Native Blues.

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                                 HARLEQUIN BLACK OPALS - By William Schmidt, Ph.D. - www.tigersoft.com
                                   Northern lights?  Fireworks?   A magic mushroom trip?    No, harlequin opals
                              Each offers a unique and phenomenal light-show.  They bear little resemblance to their
                              much more common, plainer cousins, the ordinary white opals that most US jewelers
                              offer.   When first introduced to England in the late 19th century, harlequin opals were not
                              even accepted as opals, they are too gaudily bright and colorful.  But they soon took the
                              world's breath away.   Viewed from any side, the best black opals send out shafts of
                              light, brilliant ruby-reds, deep, deep blues, glorious purples as well as burning yellows and
                              lush greens.  They stun the visual senses.  No other gemstone displays the whole spectrum
                              of colors.

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     http://www.opals-of-light-and-fire.com/web_images/black-opal-1.jpg       http://www.codyopal.com/cody0405/images/opal2.jpg
                                     Their shafts of light are so big and bold. Sometimes they form a checkerboard pattern.   
                              They may be may be full opals.  Or they may be more affordable doublets or triplets.   A woman
                              wearing a harlequin must be ready for lots of compliments, steady gazes and even offers to
                              buy her harlequin right there and then.  They are not bad luck. Opals simply should be kept
                              out of direct sunlight, away from extreme cold and occasionally placed in water, so as not to.
                              become overly dry and fracture.

                                    99.9% of the brightest colored and most lustrous opals come from only two places in
                              the entire world:  Lightning Ridge in New South Wales and Mintabie in South Australia.

                             Top quality opals sell for more than $30,000 US per carat.

                                   My visit to the San Diego Gem Faire in April 2008 inspired this write-up.  I saw more beautiful
                              opals in 30 seconds that I had ever seen, even though wherever I go I always look for stores
                              selling them.  They were extraordinary.  The man who mined them was kind enough to
                              encourage my interest.  Below are some of his opals.    Here is his website:
                              I saw the opal just below, up close and personal.  It is easily worth $250,000. Every change
                              in perspective, radiates new beams of colors.  Gazing at it, I felt like I had taken a worm-hole
                              to a  faraway galaxy.   
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Ebay $49,999 - 36 carats 36 mm x 23 mm X 7 mm - Lightning Ridge "semi-black"

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Ebay $45,995 - 31 carats 31 mm x 24 mm X 5 mm -

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                     This is the land they come from.
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                   ( http://www.fredwardgems.com/images/Fred-Ward-with-opals.gif
                    http://www.delsjourney.com/images/news/news_02-03-08/2-2707_Opal_Fields.jpg   )

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           ( http://www.bryantmcgill.com/myspace/opals1-300.jpg
                                                                        http://www.gemplayer.com/images/birthstone/opfy01017.jpg   )

                   It is the glow under-ground that often reveals the opals to miners.  Special instruments
          can find opals more easily.
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                                    Australian Lightning Ridge Black Solid Opals 

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         Black opal is the "king of opals".  It israre. Mine prices of $10-20,000 per carat are not unusual
         for the best stones. In an average year, only a few (less than ten) world-class black stones are mined
         and offered for sale.  These come mainly from Lightning Ridge in NSW.   These can crystal or opaque.
         Even  expensive black opals may have only a very thin colour bar on black potch.  The rarest specimens
         show bright flashes of red. 

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                                               Australian Black Opals

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             http://www.black-opal.co.uk/img/black_opal.jpg                           http://www.codyopal.com/cody0405/aboutopals.htm

                     These stone's spectrum of colors change as light "plays off the regimented layers of sub-microscopic spheres
              that form the basic structure of opal. In the best examples, dramatic splashes of color are juxtapositioned like
             puzzle pieces producing a wide range of patterns....he finest BLACK OPAL in the world comes from Lightning Ridge
             Australia in New South Wales. It is the RAREST of all opals and can sell for millions of dollars or more. The Red
             Multicolored form of black opal is the most prized ! Black Opal also comes in a "crystal form" but very dark background
             usually solid color, it may not have any solid black backing visible - in some cases may be double sided color. When
             held up to light you may be able to see through it thus "crystal"... Because of the curious nature of opal formation,
             it is possible for a variety of organic forms to be systematically replaced by opal bearing fluids that faithfully replicate
             the object during the replacement or fossilization process. Shell and other forms of plant life ( and even dinosauers)
             can be opalized in a slow, methodical process, that reproduces the shape of the original life form in both "precious"
             or "common" opals.
The uniqueness of these opals, familiar to the ancient seascape of Australia, has been faithfully
             mimicked in a highly transparent opal exhibiting any combination of colors across the spectrum but predominately a
             blue/green play of color, like the sea it started with. The desirability of any example of opal replacement is dependent
             on a combination of factors including shape, form, color, completeness and especially the brightness or quality of the
             actual gem material. The patterns can exhibit broad flashes, small flashfires, speckles of color or even pinpoints."
            Some commercial sites:

                              Australian Boulder Opals

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( http://www.bernardine.com/gemstones/boulder-opals.htm )

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www.lapidary-rock-saw-blade.com                                                                                http://www.mybestgem.com/opchi3.jpg

    Boulder Opals.   These are found only in Queensland.   They are formed from silicon diozide and
    other minerals that have seaped into the fissures of ironstone. The cutter must always take a little of this natural
    ironstone when extracting a gemstone.  This gives the dark overall colour which does not detract from the Boulder
   Opal. When little or no ironstone appears in the face of Boulder Opal, the price of Boulder equals  that of very
   fine Black Opals. The natural occurrence of Boulder allows for particularly interesting shapes which in the hands
   of a creative jeweller makes for stunning creations.
               (Source: http://www.grahamblackopal.com/about-opal/opal-classification.php )
   When the opal is mixed through the boulder ironstone, it is also called "matrix opal."  Hardness ranges between
   5.5 and 6 on the Mohs scale.  Boulder opal is very durable due to the ironstone backing the opal forms on.  
  Because water content within the opal is very low it almost never cracks or crazes as it ages.

   "During the 1980s,when the super-strong yen pushed black opal prices to levels beyond the reach of the rest of the
    world, far-less-expensive boulder opal came on strong in America as a substitute. Then, during the withering of
    world recession of the early nineties, when the Japanese also balked at the high cost of black opal, this alternative
    variety came on even stronger in Japan." (Source: David Faberman)

                              Australian Opals from Coober Pedys
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( http://www.joannarepton.co.uk/images/opals01.jpg )                    Living underground in Coober Pedy..
          See - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coober_Pedy and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCU-QTW32go

                            Australian Lightning Ridge Crystal

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                          Mexican Fire Opals

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                                                                         Light/White Opals

wpe150.jpg (2195 bytes)  "Natural opals with a base tone ranging from colourless to medium grey are called light opal. Some people refer to these as "white" although this expression should only be used where the body colour is very milky.  Light opal makes up the bulk of precious opal. White Opal may be transparent through to nearly opaque, although it usually has a "milky" appearance and has a light body tone or white body colour. Mainly mined at Coober Pedy and Mintabee, (South Australia) although the first deposits were found at White Cliffs (NSW). "  ( Source: http://www.codyopal.com/cody0405/aboutopals.htm )

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"The history of Australian opals started as late as 1849 at a cattle station called Tarrawilla, near Angaston some 80km outside Adelaide however, Australian opal did not appear on the world market until the 1890s. Prior to the emergence of Australian opal on the market, opal was sourced in Hungary and South America. Consequently, the Hungarian mines promoted the idea that Australian opal was not genuine, probably because gems with such brilliant colour had not been seen before. "

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So many patterns of color: "Harlequins", "Flagstones", "Ribbons", "Peacpck Tail",  "Rolling Flash"
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EBAY OPALS - 1/15/2010.
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US $59,995.00
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                                                                             $49.950 US
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$32,500 US




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