Gemstone

Boulder opal from Quilpie,Qld showing the magnificent colours found

Boulder opal from Quilpie, Qld showing the magnificent colours found

Opal from Lightning Ridge, NSW.  Photo by S. Humphreys.  Specimen Australian Museum, Sydney.

Opal from Lightning Ridge, NSW. Photo by S. Humphreys.  Specimen Australian Museum, Sydney.

Opal from Lightning Ridge, NSW.  Photo by S. Humphreys.  Specimen Australian Museum, Sydney.

Opal from Lightning Ridge, NSW. Photo by S. Humphreys.  Specimen Australian Museum, Sydney.

Significance

Australia's national gemstone is the opal, a stone famous across the world for its brilliant colours.

In Indigenous stories, a rainbow created the colours of the opal when it touched the earth.

Opal, also known to Indigenous people as the fire of the desert, is a powerful symbol of Australia's arid interior.

Australia is home to the world's highest quality, precious opal. The most famous is black opal from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. Black opal has a colour play of red, green, blue, violet, magenta or yellow against a dark background.

History

Australia's opal fields are bigger than those found in the rest of the world combined. Opal production was worth $47 million, coming from three states, to Australia in 2007-2008 and supports many communities in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

Australian opals are valued for their stability as well as brilliance. Opals from other countries are associated with volcanic rock and have high water content and tend to crack or craze during cutting or polishing, or during hot or dry conditions.

Australia's precious opals include black opal, white opal, crystal opal, fire opal and boulder opal.

Proclamation

The Governor-General, the Hon Bill Hayden AC, proclaimed the opal Australia's national gemstone on 27 July 1993.

Use

Permission is not required to reproduce images or illustrations of the national gemstone.

Fact sheet

This information is also available as a print fact sheet.

Note: For more information on PDF files and their use see the PDF Help page on this site.

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