How Much Is White Opal Worth?

Opals have captivated people for centuries with their alluring play of color. White opal is the most common and widely available variety, displaying flashes of spectral colors against a soft white or cream background. But exactly how much is this beautiful gemstone worth? The answer depends on several factors.

Opals are unique among gemstones in that no two are exactly alike. They are valued based on their background color, brilliance, pattern of color flashes, and shape. The rarest and most valuable opals exhibit vivid flashes of multiple colors against a pure white or black background. These opals originate from Australia and are known as “black” or “lightning ridge” opals. Top quality examples can sell for $5,000 per carat or more at auction.

More common white opals from Australia have a milky white or light gray body color. They generally show green, blue, orange, and red flashes when turned in the light. The strength of the color play has a significant impact on value. Vivid fire with a mix of several colors is best. Faint or solitary colors are less desirable. Expect to pay $50 to $300 per carat for good quality white opal.

Shape also affects value, with cabochons and rounds being most preferred. Opal doublets, which have a thin layer of precious opal bonded to a dark backing, are also popular for their beauty and affordability. Doublets in the $50 to $100 range exhibit nice play of color.

White opals are mined in various countries around the world. Common opal from Nevada in the US displaysweak flashes against a white or cream background. It typically sells for $10 to $30 per carat. Peruvian opal, often called Andean opal, shows green and blue colors. Values range from $50 to $100 per carat. African opal from Ethiopia tends to be very pale with delicate play of color. It fetches $30 to $50 per carat.

There are exceptions to all value guidelines, of course. A large carat size, unusual pattern, or uniquely shaped stone may merit a premium. Provenance can also drive up the price if it has historical significance. The bottom line is white opal offers affordable beauty that can fit into almost any budget. Its mesmerizing play of color in soothing white tones has delighted jewelry lovers for centuries. For a visually striking gem with lots of flair, white opal is hard to beat.