Famous Opals: Stories of the World’s Most Stunning Gems

Opals are a type of gemstone that have captivated people for centuries. These stones are known for their unique play of colors and iridescence, making them one of the most fascinating gemstones in the world. Among the many opals that exist, there are some notable stones that have gained fame due to their size, rarity, and beauty.

One of these famous opals is the Andamooka Opal. This stone is known for its large size and unique pattern. The Andamooka Opal was discovered in South Australia in 1946 and weighs over 3,500 carats. Its beautiful color patterns make it one of the most sought-after opals in the world.

Another notable opal is the Olympic Australis Opal. This stone is famous for being one of the largest and most valuable opals in the world. It was discovered in Coober Pedy, South Australia, in 1956 and weighs over 17,000 carats. The Olympic Australis Opal has a stunning red color with flashes of green and blue.

The Black Prince Opal is another significant stone due to its historical value. This opal was once owned by King Ferdinand VII of Spain and later acquired by Sir Walter Scott before being donated to the British Museum. The Black Prince Opal has a dark body tone with flashes of green and blue.

These three notable opals are just a few examples of how these stones can capture our imagination through their beauty, rarity, and history. They remind us that even something as small as a gemstone can hold great significance.

Opals are known for their unique play of colors caused by diffraction and interference from tiny silica spheres within them. This phenomenon gives each stone its own distinct character, making them truly one-of-a-kind.

In addition to their beauty, opals also hold spiritual significance for some cultures. For example, ancient Greeks believed that opals held the power of prophecy, while in Arabic culture, opals were thought to have fallen from the heavens during lightning storms.

History of Opals: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

Opals have a rich history that spans thousands of years, with evidence of opal mining dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans. These gemstones have been prized for their beauty and rarity, and continue to be sought after today.

Natural History of Opals

Fossilized opals have been found that date back millions of years, providing insight into the natural history of these gemstones and their formation over time. Opals are formed from silica deposits that are left behind by water that has evaporated. Over time, these deposits can combine with other minerals to create the unique patterns and colors that are characteristic of opals.

Where Do Opals Originate?

While opals can be found in many parts of the world, Australia is one of the major sources of this gemstone. In fact, in the 1950s, several large deposits were discovered in Australia that produced some of the most valuable and sought-after stones in the world. Today, Australia continues to be a major producer of opals.

Stories About Opals

Opals have inspired countless stories and legends throughout history. Some cultures believed that opals had mystical powers that could bring good luck or ward off evil spirits. Others believed that wearing an opal could increase creativity or enhance intuition. Many royals and nobles throughout history also wore opal jewelry as a symbol of wealth and status.

Famous Individuals Connected to Opals: Kings, Queens, and Celebrities

Queen Victoria’s Love for Opals

Opals have been a favorite gemstone of royalty for centuries, and Queen Victoria was no exception. The queen had a passion for opals and gave them as gifts to her daughters. She even owned a tiara adorned with opals, which was later passed down to Queen Elizabeth II. The stunning tiara features 20 large opals surrounding diamonds and is one of the most iconic pieces in the British royal collection.

John T. Austen and the Lightning Ridge Black Opal

The famous Lightning Ridge black opal discovered in Australia is one of the most valuable gems in the world, thanks to its unique color play and rarity. John T. Austen was one of the miners who found this magnificent stone in 1905. He sold it to his partner who then sold it to a buyer in London for a record-breaking price, making history as one of the most expensive opals ever sold.

Marilyn Monroe’s Signature Opal Earrings

Marilyn Monroe was known for her love of jewelry, and she owned a pair of opal earrings that were gifted to her by Joe DiMaggio. These earrings became one of her signature accessories, often seen wearing them at public events or during photo shoots. They were made from two large pear-shaped Australian opals surrounded by diamonds set in platinum.

Lupita Nyong’o’s Headband Made with Ethiopian Opals

In 2013, actress Lupita Nyong’o wore a headband made with Ethiopian opals to the Oscars, sparking renewed interest in this gemstone among fashion enthusiasts around the world. The headband featured seven oval-shaped cabochon-cut Ethiopian opals set in gold metal wirework that complemented her elegant gown perfectly.

Opals have captivated people’s hearts for centuries with their unique beauty and mesmerizing color play. From royalty like Queen Victoria to Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe, opals have been cherished by many famous individuals throughout history. Whether it’s the Lightning Ridge black opal or Ethiopian opals, these gemstones continue to fascinate and inspire people all over the world.

Red Admiral Opal: The Butterfly Stone

Butterflies are often considered as symbols of transformation and change, and this connection is beautifully depicted in the Red Admiral Opal. Also known as the Butterfly Stone, this opal is a massive stone weighing 1,000 carats and is considered one of the largest opals in the world. In this section, we will delve deeper into the fascinating story behind this magnificent gemstone.

The Discovery of Red Admiral Opal

The Red Admiral Opal was discovered by miner John Altmann in 1946 in the Virgin Rainbow opal field in Australia. This field is located near Coober Pedy, which is known as the “opal capital of the world.” Altmann named it after a British butterfly species called Red Admiral due to its resemblance to a butterfly with its wings spread open.

Vibrant Colour Play

One of the most striking features of Red Admiral Opal is its vibrant colour play. The stone features red streaks, orange, blue veins, and a harlequin pattern that resembles a flag. When light hits the surface of this stone at different angles, it creates an incredible display of colours that seem to dance across its surface.

Michael Jackson’s Connection

Despite its size and beauty, the Red Admiral Opal remains relatively unknown compared to other famous opals such as the Black Prince Opal and Olympic Australis. However, it gained some notoriety when it was purchased by Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in California and set in a ring that was worn by Michael Jackson during his burial service. The ring was later auctioned off for charity.

Pride of Australia Opal: The Red Emperor

Red Emperor: The Pride of Australia Opal

The world’s most valuable opals are often found in Australia, and one of the most famous among them is the Pride of Australia Opal, also known as the Red Emperor. This unique gemstone was discovered in 1993 by miner Charlie Dunstan in South Australia and quickly became a prized possession due to its large size and stunning red color.

Discovery and Ownership

The Red Emperor was named after the Australian Olympic team’s mascot, Olympic Australis, and has been owned by several individuals over the years. American serviceman Ernie Sherman acquired it during World War II, while brothers John and Tom Urwin purchased it from Bradley, a previous owner. Eventually, the opal was sold to the South Australian government for $1.5 million.

Fascinating History

This opal has an interesting history that adds to its allure. It has been displayed at various museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney. The Red Emperor even had the honor of being presented to Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Australia in 2000.

The Red Emperor is not only a remarkable gemstone but also a symbol of pride for Australians. Its name represents both national pride and athletic excellence associated with Olympic Games. One can only imagine how many people have admired this beautiful stone over time.

Halley’s Comet Opal: A Celestial Wonder

Discovered in 1986, the Halley’s Comet Opal is a rare gemstone that has fascinated collectors and enthusiasts alike. This beautiful gemstone was discovered in the Three Mile Fields of South Australia by a group of miners from the Lunatic Hill Syndicate who were digging a tunnel to find precious stones.

Oval Shape and Stunning Colors

The opal has an oval shape and measures approximately 5 centimeters long and 3 centimeters wide. It features a stunning display of colors that resemble the night sky, including blues, greens, purples, and yellows. The unique combination of colors makes it one of the most sought-after opals in the world.

Discovery and Purchase

The discovery of this celestial wonder coincided with the passing of Halley’s Comet near Earth. The miners found it while they were digging their way through a shaft to find precious stones. They stumbled upon it on the side of the tunnel wall when they were laying down phone lines.

Collector John Altmann purchased the opal for $1.5 million after it was discovered. He added it to his extensive collection of precious stones that he had acquired over several years. However, he later sold it to fellow collector Percy Marks.

Cutting into Pieces

Marks had different plans for this rare gemstone; he wanted to showcase its various angles and colors by cutting it into three pieces. One piece was sold to a buyer in Japan, while Marks kept two other pieces in his personal collection.

Cherny Opals

The Cherny family is famous for producing some of Australia’s finest opals, including black opals from Lightning Ridge and boulder opals from Queensland. In recent times they have been involved with mining at Coober Pedy where they have uncovered some magnificent specimens like Halley’s Comet Opal.

Halley’s Comet Opal is not just a gemstone; it’s a celestial wonder that mesmerizes people with its stunning colors and unique shape. Its discovery, purchase, and cutting into pieces make for an interesting story that adds to its allure. It’s no surprise that this rare opal is highly sought after by collectors around the world.

Fire Queen Opal: The Fiery Gem

Valuable Gem Opal: Fire Queen Opal

Fire Queen Opal, also known as Flame Queen, is a valuable gem opal that has captured the attention of many collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. Its fiery appearance that resembles flames makes it unique and highly sought after. This opal was discovered in Lightning Ridge, Australia, in the early 1900s, making it one of the most beautiful and rarest opals in the world.

Flame-Like Appearance

The Fire Queen Opal’s vibrant colors and unique patterns make it stand out from other opals. The play of color ranges from red to orange to yellow, with flashes of green and blue. Its flame-like appearance is due to its bright red-orange base color with a mix of other colors on top. This makes it an ideal choice for jewelry pieces such as rings, necklaces, and earrings.

Good Luck Charm

The Fire Queen Opal has a reputation for bringing good luck and positive energy to those who wear it. It is believed to help people overcome obstacles in their lives while promoting creativity and inspiration. Many people consider this opal as a symbol of hope and transformation because of its vivid colors.

Mining Process

Lightning Ridge is known for producing some of the world’s finest black opals, including the Fire Queen Opal. The mining process involves digging deep underground tunnels into claystone or sandstone layers where precious stones are found. Miners use specialized equipment such as jackhammers and explosives to extract these gems carefully.


The value of Fire Queen Opals varies depending on their size, shape, color intensity, pattern complexity, clarity level, origin location, rarity level among others factors. Due to its rarity and beauty features mentioned above make this type of opal very expensive compared to other types like white or common black ones.

Black Prince Opal: The Dark Beauty

The Black Prince Opal is a rare and precious gemstone that features a stunning harlequin pattern on a black background, making it one of the most sought-after black opals in the world. Weighing in at 37 carats, this magnificent stone was discovered in the old sea bed of Lightning Ridge, Australia, which is known for producing some of the finest black opals in the world.

The gem quality colour of the Black Prince Opal is a snowy brown with flashes of royal blue and green, giving it an extraordinary beauty that is highly prized by collectors and connoisseurs alike. The harlequin pattern on its surface refers to its unique arrangement of coloured patches or squares that resemble those found on the costumes of jesters or clowns. This pattern makes each Black Prince Opal truly one-of-a-kind and adds to its value as a collectible item.

Despite its dark and mysterious appearance, the Black Prince Opal has a rich history and has been owned by several famous figures throughout the years. One such figure was King Edward VII, who purchased it from John Newton Bidwell in 1907. It was then given to his son, George V when he became king in 1910. It remained in possession of the British royal family until 1948 when it was sold at auction to an anonymous buyer for £12,000.

The name “Black Prince” comes from another famous owner – Sir Laurence Olivier – who bought it for his wife Vivien Leigh as a gift after she won her second Academy Award for Best Actress in 1952. She wore it frequently during public appearances and even had it set into a necklace designed by Cartier.

Aurora Australis Opal: The Southern Lights Gem

The Aurora Australis Opal is a mesmerizing gemstone that displays a stunning play of colors, resembling the natural light display that occurs in the southern skies. This opal was discovered in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia, which is known for producing some of the world’s most valuable and unique opals. Let’s dive deeper into what makes this gem so special.

A Gemstone That Captures the Beauty of the Southern Lights

The name “Aurora Australis” refers to the natural light display that occurs in the southern hemisphere. This phenomenon is caused by charged particles from solar winds colliding with Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. The resulting colors are a breathtaking display of greens, blues, purples, and pinks dancing across the night sky.

The Aurora Australis Opal captures this beauty and magic in its own unique way. Its dark base color acts as a canvas for flashes of green, blue, and red to dance across its surface. When viewed from different angles or under varying lighting conditions, these colors shift and change like the aurora lights themselves.

A Highly Sought-After Collector’s Item

Due to its rarity and striking beauty, the Aurora Australis Opal has become a highly sought-after collector’s item. It is considered one of the most valuable opals found in Lightning Ridge due to its unique coloring and patterns.

In fact, one notable example of an Aurora Australis Opal sold at auction for over $500,000 USD back in 2005. Its large size (weighing over 180 carats) and vibrant coloring made it an exceptional find that collectors were willing to pay top dollar for.

Discovering More About Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge is located in New South Wales, Australia – an area known for producing some of the world’s most valuable opals. In addition to the Aurora Australis Opal, Lightning Ridge has also produced other famous opals such as the Black Opal and the Flame Queen Opal.

Mining for opals in this region is a challenging and risky business. The harsh climate and remote location make it difficult to access, and miners must contend with extreme heat, dust storms, and the ever-present danger of cave-ins.

Despite these challenges, Lightning Ridge remains a popular destination for tourists looking to learn more about this unique gemstone. Visitors can tour mines and museums to gain a deeper understanding of how opals are formed and mined.

A Look at the World’s Most Famous Opals

Opals have been revered for centuries, and their beauty continues to captivate people around the world. From ancient times to the present day, opals have held a special place in history, culture, and fashion. Kings, queens, and celebrities have all been drawn to these magnificent gems, which come in an array of colors and patterns.

One of the most famous opals is the Red Admiral Opal. This stunning stone is named after the butterfly it resembles and features vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows that seem to dance across its surface. Another celebrated opal is the Pride of Australia Opal, also known as the Red Emperor. This gem boasts deep reds and bright greens that create a regal appearance fit for royalty.

For those who love celestial wonders, there is Halley’s Comet Opal. This rare gemstone features a stunning play of color that mimics the fiery tail of a comet streaking through space. The Fire Queen Opal is another fiery beauty with orange-red hues that evoke images of flames dancing in a hearth.

The Black Prince Opal is a dark beauty with deep blues and greens that shimmer like stars in a midnight sky. And then there’s Aurora Australis Opal – named after the Southern Lights – featuring an incredible display of colors ranging from pinks to purples to blues.

These are just some examples of famous opals that continue to fascinate us today. They remind us of nature’s awe-inspiring beauty and our own fascination with it.

Whether you’re a collector or simply appreciate their unique allure, opals are truly one-of-a-kind gems with an undeniable charm all their own. So next time you see one of these beauties on display or adorning someone’s finger or neck, take a moment to appreciate its timeless appeal – it may just leave you spellbound.

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