Ethiopian Opal Gemstones: Their Values In The Market


Ethiopian Opal Gemstones Discovery


Ethiopian Opal Gemstones are first discovered in 1994 at Yita Ridge. The place is found in Shewa region. These Opal gemstones are well known to be prone to cracking. But recently there was another discovery of high quality Opal gemstones in Welo region. The exciting arrival of gem quality solid Opal from the Welo district has taken the gem world by storm. Welo opals have proven to be as stable as Australian opal or Brazilian opal . Only a small percentage may craze or crack.

Opal gemstones are made of submicroscopic silica spheres bonded together with water and additional silica. It is amorphous, meaning it has no crystalline structure and no definite chemical composition. It is therefore considered to be a “mineraloid” rather than a “mineral.” This gelatinous mix seeped deep between the layers of underground sedimentary rock, and formed the solidified material, Opal. This is a slow process and takes very long time.

3 Well known types of Opal gemstones

There are 3 well known types of Opal gemstones. Of the three basic types of Opals, Precious Opal,” or “Rainbow Opal,” is the rarest. It is mined in a limited number of locations worldwide. It is famous for producing brilliant flashes or streaks of iridescent color when turned in the light. The color is not due to any pigment in the stone. It is rather thee optical effect created when the microscopic spheres of silica hardened in an orderly grid-like pattern. The spacing between the spheres causes light to diffract and break up into the colors of the spectrum. The size of the spheres and their geometric packing determines the color and quality of the diffracted light. This also determines the value of the Opal. 

Common Opal,” or “Potch,” is found in many places throughout the world. This type does not exhibit play of color. It usually has a milky or pearly luster. The third type, Fire Opal,” is a transparent to translucent Opal with a body color of vivid red, orange or yellow. This type is most commonly mined in Mexico. It typically shows no play of color. Though occasionally a stone will have a weak display or exhibit bright green flashes.

Opals form as colorless, white, yellow, red, orange, green, brown, black or blue in color. They might be transparent, translucent or opaque. They have a brittle tenacity and are usually cut to show their full play of color. Solid Opal refers to stones consisting wholly of Precious Opal. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia who produces 97% of the world’s market. These Opals are formed in a sedimentary environment and are highly stable. They are also resistant to breakage. Other Opal forms from volcanic processes. These types are called hydrophane Opals for their ability to absorb water. These Opals are more prone to crazing or cracking.

There are so many reagions and places Opal gemstones are mined. As this is an Ethiopian Opal Shop, we will only focus on the gemstones mined in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Opal Gemstones Description

Ethiopian Opal - Ethiopian Opal is a hydrophane Opal that forms in nodules within volcanic ash in seams between rhyolite layers. It occurs in a variety of colors and patterns. It usually displays brilliant flashes of color. The new Opals from the Welo district of Ethiopia was discovered in 2008. This precious stone has proven to be extremely stable despite its porosity. It is able to absorb water and change transparency or opacity. But the good thing is it then reverts back to its original state. It comes back to its original state with no adverse reaction or cracking.

When compared with Australian Opal, Ethiopian opal is hydrophane which prevents crazing. Where as the in Australian Opal is caused by drying out of the water content which creates hairline cracks. Ethiopian opal is more available and generally has a wider variety of color especially reds.  Ethiopian Opal gemstone prices are lower and the sizes are much larger than Australian. Ethiopian opal is more durable. It is famous for resisting breakage better than all other opal including Australian.

Please go to Ethiopian Opal Shop and see the selection of products that are listed for sale. All products are sold by a renouned online retailer, Amazon. 

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