3. Where does it come from ?

Black Opal

Black Opal

About 10 hours drive from the Gold Coast, there is a small but famous town called "Lightning Ridge". This town is the only place on earth that produces this precious Black Opal.

The first recorded Black Opal found in Lightning Ridge was in 1873. However, Until 1903, people were not aware of its value. From that time until now, Lightning Ridge is the only place you can find this magnificent gem, Black Opal.

Some people might think Black Opal comes in a Black colour (?), so they are quite often amazed by these beautiful colours it actually has. Why is it called "Black Opal" ? We start from this point.

Black Opal Black Opal

These pictures are showing two different types of Black Opal rock. The left is called "Nobby" and the right is called "Seam". You can see the left stone (Nobby) has a white or light grey appearance. When the sand stone is washed and clipped they reveal a Black potch (like black line in the right side picture) inside along with a colour bar. Yes, this is the reason why we call this type of opal a "Black Opal". To help you understand , let's see another set of pictures.

Black Opal Black Opal Black Opal

These pictures are taken from three different directions of one stone. The left is from face, middle is from back and right is from side. As you saw previously in chapter of "Boulder Opal", you can find a black backing (called potch) on the bottom of opal. This is the main reason why it's given its name as Black Opal.  But we can't say every black opal has this black backing. We explained here, as simple as we can. So the proper definition of the Black Opal is "the opal which has the colours with a black or a grey base". If you are very lucky, you can find Black Opal which has different colours on both sides (we call this kind of Black Opal a "Reversible").

Compare with the white opal we've talked about before, you might be aware that the Black Opal has more colours and brightness.

We will talk into more details about the definition of Black Opal in ADVANCED.

Let's go to the next page and talk about opal as jewellery.

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