What is the Most Valuable Opal Color?

Opals come in a stunning rainbow of colors, ranging from pure white to black with flashes of multiple colors. The play of color, or fire, that opals exhibit is what makes them so captivating and unique. But when it comes to value, some opal colors are more prized than others.

The most valuable and rare opal color is a rich, vibrant red. Red opal, especially “pinfire” red opal with tiny flecks of red fire, commands higher prices than opals of any other color. This is for several reasons.

First, red is an extremely rare and unusual color for opals. Most opals tend toward greens, blues, yellows, and oranges in their flash of color. True red opal is uncommon. The scarcity alone raises the value. Additionally, red is a beloved color and red gemstones have always been popular and in demand. From rubies to garnets, red gems have a timeless allure.

Second, the intensity and purity of the red contributes to its value. Dull or muddy red opal is far less valuable than a stone exhibiting a strong, bright cherry or crimson flash against a black or white background. The more vivid and bright the red color, the higher the opal’s worth. “Fire engine red” or “pinfire red” opal with tiny dots of shimmering red fire tend to be the most sought after.

Third, larger sized red opal gems will command even higher prices and are exponentially more rare than smaller stones. Opals occur in nodules within rock, so large formations of red opal are uncommon. An opal over 5 carats exhibiting a pure red flash will fetch huge premiums at auction. These world-class stones are snapped up by collectors and investors.

While red is the front runner, black opal also holds great value. Solid black opal with a bright play of color against the dark background is mesmerizing and exotic. Black opals with vibrant colored flecks ranging from neon blue to deep purple are highly prized. Famous opals like the “Aurora Australis” and “Lightning Ridge Black” are two of the most valuable opals ever discovered, each worth over $1 million AUD. Black opals are also quite rare, found in only a few mines worldwide. With supply low and demand high from collectors, prices remain high.

At the other end of the spectrum, white or “milky” opals are the most common and thus less valuable. These tend to exhibit a hazy play of color. While still very beautiful, they are not as brilliant or vibrant as black or crystal opals. White opals have a lovely, gentle appearance, but lack the dramatic flashes that drive opal prices upwards.

In the end, a magnificent opal’s value is determined by many factors: base color, play of color, brightness, pattern, size and scarcity. But red and black remain the preferred and most valuable opal colors, with fiery crimson red atop the list of opal connoisseurs and collectors alike. A vibrant red opal commands the highest prices per carat, making it the most valuable opal color one can own.