Opals are found in different countries around the world, including Australia, Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil and more. Each country's opals have different varieties and appearances. Over time, the availability of opals has declined in certain countries over time due to depleted mining sources, leading to a scarcity of natural opals and a subsequent rise in their value. Among all opal-producing nations, Australia stands as the dominant player, commanding more than 95% of the global opal market.

Opals from Australia

Opals produced in Australia account for over 95% of the global opal market. Australia has multiple mining regions that yield opals, each with its own unique characteristics. The commonly known traditional opals, such as Crystal Opal and Milky Opal, originate from the Coober Pedy region in southern Australia. Additionally, Australia's remarkable geological history, particularly the Eromanga Basin, played a significant role. The Eromanga Basin, which covered central and southern Australia during the Mesozoic era (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods), served as a habitat for numerous prehistoric organisms. Over time, the remains of these organisms settled on the seabed. Through the interplay of special geological conditions and temperature changes, some of these organic remains and seashells underwent opalization, forming opal fossils. These opals preserve the external features of ancient organisms or shells while displaying the vibrant play-of-color characteristic of opals, making them exceptionally rare and valuable.

Among Australian opals, the highest value is attributed to Black Opal, an incredibly precious and scarce gemstone found exclusively in Lightning Ridge, Australia. Alongside Black Opal, Boulder Opal stands as its comparable counterpart. Boulder Opal is a reflection of Earth's history. Millions of years ago, liquid silica seeped into cracks and crevices in ironstone and, through prolonged solidification, fused with the surrounding boulder, becoming the host rock for opal. By carefully extracting along the opal veins, one can obtain a gemstone with a thin layer of opal, which exhibits brilliant play-of-color against the backdrop of natural dark ironstone. Observers can marvel at its intense color variations.

Fire Opals from Mexico

Fire Opals from Mexico are renowned for their vibrant orange-red color. Some fire opals are considered precious with or without play of color. Fire opals without play of color are prized for their intense and vivid hues. When cut, these opals allow light to refract in different directions, showcasing their vibrant orange-red color to the fullest. Fire opals with play of color, on the other hand, are often fashioned into irregular three-dimensional shapes, which are favored by jewelry designers. Although Mexican fire opals are well-known, Mexico also produces other opal varieties such as water opal and matrix opal.

Opals from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is known for producing opals with the largest and most intense play of color. The majority of opal strands available in the market today come from Ethiopia. Ethiopian opals generally start at 2 carats in size and have a thick body, resembling a loaf of bread. The play of color in Ethiopian opals is more expansive and reminiscent of rainbow colors refracted from soap bubbles, creating a dreamlike effect. Ethiopia also produces black opals, although their body color tends to be deep brown, which significantly distinguishes them from Australian opals in terms of price. If you place an opal from Ethiopia and an opal from Australia in water for as little as 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes, the Ethiopian opal will turn transparent or white and lose its play of color, while the Australian opal will not undergo any color changes. Ethiopian opals can withstand regular daily wear for 1-2 years.

Please note that the translation provided above may not capture the nuanced cultural or technical aspects of the original text.

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