Although the largest opal fields are in Australia, opal is also found throughout the world from Europe to the South Americas, North America and South East Asia. It has been mined in Brazil, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Hungary, western parts of the USA and more recently Canada.
Following is a synopsis of the countries where opal is currently mined:
The Mexican opal fields are primarily located in the Queretare and Jalica regions. These regions have been known to be producing opal since the time of the Aztecs, and the opal is commonly referred to as “Fire Opal. ” The colouration of the Mexican opal ranges from bright red to orange and are the only ones faceted rather than left as cabochons.
Since 1973 opal has been mined in British Colombia, with gem quality opal being discovered at the Klinker, Queen and Eagle Creek mines in the 1990’s. Precious opal from Klinker is found to have excellent brightness and multicolour flash. Both the Queen and Eagle Creek mines contain occurrences of transparent, translucent or opaque deposits of common opal.
United States of America:
Opal mining is the second largest contribution to the total out put of gem production in the state. Varieties of opal being mined include precious, which comes in a varity of colours (white and pink, yellow, blue and pink) as well as common opal.
Opal produced here is a sandstone/quartzite composite with precious opal cement and matrix. The plays of colour with these opals usually come as blue or purple.
Precious opal was first discovered around 1905/6 in the Virgin Valley area and is still mined there today. The quality of opal produced is comparable to any found in the world and includes all the colours found in precious opal (red, blue, green, yellow and orange).
Opal deposits have been known since the late 1880’s, but it was not until the late 1980’s that serious mining and marketing was undertaken.
Ancient opal was mined near Cervencia, Hungary, in what is now Eastern Slovakia.
In part 3 we visit Australia and learn about the discovery of opal and the locations it is mined.
I look forward to your company again in part 3.
I established Kulpunya Opals several years ago to provide the UK and Europe with a specialist supply of opals. We import directly from key suppliers in Australia with whom we have developed strong and long-term relationships