Opal Buying Factors to Consider

  1. Fire type: harlequin (which type?), flash, broadflash, large or small pin, combinations, or?
  2. Colors: red (which type, magenta, etc.), green, blue, purple, gold, etc. predominance, combinations.
  3. Base color: black, grey, degree of blackness, crystal, jelly, white, offwhite, yellow, brown, etc.
  4. Thickness of the color bar, consistency all around the piece, interplay of the various color bars, top or side cutting.
  5. Brilliance.
  6. Equipment, etc: High speed, low speed, diamond vs Carborundum. How you handled the opal when grinding. Heat and amount of water used in cutting.
  7. Your skill: hobbyist, beginner, intermediate, expert, designer, dealer.
  8. What you want to do with the opal: standard cabs, free form, inlay, composites, doublets, triplets.
  9. Source: fields, depth of mining, methods of mining: Buy nothing from New Field at Coober Pedy area or Mehi at Lightning Ridge. It helps to know your supplier.
  10. Storage and transport methods: (Safe deposit boxes are not safe for opal when left dry. Call for an explanation.)

We have a handout that details these factors. For $3.00 we will send you one.


We are of the opinion that opal is one of the last few gemstones readily available to the general public in the rough, where the major profit goes to the cutter.

We are still seeing significant increases in the value of some grades of opal over short periods of time; therefore, rough opals are good investments. But, buy them right, shop around, compare FACTORS as listed above. Do your homework and you will be rewarded.


We have had numerous requests for us to appraise stones that might be opals over the Internet. All fine stones must be physically examined by a competent appraiser in order for you to receive a current and honest replacement price. There are pseudo opals from Mexico, painted foil with a quartz or glass top that are usually set in an enclosed silver setting. Gilson Opal is man made opal that will withstand heat to 1600-1700F. Other man made opals better described as opal simulants abound, they may be made of a combination of silica and polymers. There are doublets, triplets and composites. OPAL made by MOTHER NATURE comes from all over the world and can cost from cents a gram to thousands of dollars a carat. An appraisal reflecting fair replacement price must be a hands on examination by a competent opal appraiser. This cannot be done over the Internet nor with pictures. We have a GIA Graduate Gemologist on staff. He will do a written appraisal for $30-50 per stone plus return postage and insurance. Lot values are done on an hourly basis. Please allow plenty of time and insure your stones yourself. We do not insure them and will not be liable in any way.


Comments are closed.