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An Introduction to the History of Australian Opals by Opal Options Australia

In this article we will explore the history of Australian Opals, learn about the Australian Opal formation process, and understand the rich history of gemstone and opal traders in Australia.

Australian Boulder Opals | Opal Options | Sustainably Sourced Opals Australia

Did you know? Australia accounts for 95% of the world’s opal supply. The Australian opal is favoured globally for its unique formations and there’s only a few major sources available for opals around the world.


The History of Australian Opals and the Australian Opal Formation Process


Over 140 million years ago, the formation process of Australian opals began. During this time, you could find an inland sea lavish with silica-rich sands and coated a large portion of central Australian land. Over the years, this in-land sea began to recede over time, and eventually formed what is known today as the Great Artesian Basin.


How are Opals formed?

Going back in history approximately 30 to 40 million years ago, the Australian climate and weather began to soften the silica found in the Great Artesian Basin. From this, holes were formed in the rock and over time began to collect silicate-rich mineral water. Through this process, silicates confined in these gaps formed the Australian opals we know today.


What is Silicate?

Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals made up of silicate groups. They are the largest and most important class of minerals and make up approximately 90 percent of Earth's crust. In mineralogy, silica SiO₂ is usually considered a silicate mineral.


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In further discussion about the Great Artesian Basin, the coverage area is quiet large and spreads across vast part of Eastern Australian in-land. However, you will only find a handful of sites that are true sources of Australian opals. Australian opal miners across will always suggest that finding good quality opals, even in the most reliable areas opals are sourced is rare.


Australian Opal Traders; The History and Beginning of Opal Trading in Australia


Dating back to 1889, Australian opal mining in its modern history began. It is noted in the history that Opal gemstones and opal traders were not favoured or widely accepted across the world until Tullie Cornthwaite Wollaston had mined incredible pieces of opal rough from Queensland and took them to trade in London.


Tullie managed to trade these beautiful Australian mined opal rough pieces to a jewellery firm that had international presence and since then, global acceptance and demand for Australian opals grew rapidly and these brilliant gemstones surfaced in many jewellery pieces made by local and international jewellery designers.


Today, Australian opals are the most favoured opal gemstones worldwide. Many lapidary clubs across the world, alongside jewellery designers rely on Australian sourced opal pieces. And many Australian opal traders are sourcing various types of opals including boulder opals.



If you are looking for high-quality Australian opal pieces, Opal Options is your best choice for sustainably sourced Australian opals covering polished opals, opal roughs, opal rubs and specimens.

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