Most commonly found in Coober Pedy, Andamooka and Mintabie in South Australia, white opal is more plentiful than other types of opal making it the most instantly recognizable opal in the world. White opal has a very light body tone and is capable of displaying any colour of the spectrum in a beautiful play of colour. For an unknown reason, white opal is more likely than other opal to make harlequin and ribbon patterns. For more information on opal patterns see our blog at https://www.opalquest.com/blogs/news/opal-patterns
White opal can vary from bright white to light grey body tones, milky-opaque to crystal clear, full colour throughout to multiple or single colour bars running through on a base of white potch. When a white opal is semi translucent or has crystal properties, it often enhances the clarity and vibrancy of the colour and therefore the value of the stone. If the opal is also naturally set on a darker grey base the value is further enhanced.
Coober Pedy white opal
Despite its beauty, white opal is often considered a lower quality stone compared to black opal, partly due to its high prevalence and partly due to the lack of darkness in the stone. Some white opal however can produce crystal opal that rivals those found in Lightning Ridge. White opal can throw all colours of the spectrum and whilst red is generally considered the most valuable colour, it is the vibrancy of all colours that dictates its price. A bright blue flash of colour will be worth more than a dull red flash. White opal can reach up to AUD$1000 per carat on the opal fields.
Coober Pedy white opal
Cutting white opal
White opals are often cut into an oval shape however this trend is starting to change with more people enjoying the natural shapes dictated by the colour bar within the stone. Free form shapes are used to maintain maximum size and carat weight of the stone. Tear drop and pendant shapes are also popular as they can be easily adapted into jewellery. With white opal it is often possible to create a high cabochon top as the colour bars running through the stone are generally thicker than is found in boulder and black opal. High cabochon finishes allow greater light penetration, reflection and refraction enhancing the overall appearance of the opal.
White opal on dob sticks being cut
Coober Pedy rough white potch and colour
To find out more about opal or to check out our finished Opal Jewellery click on the link below.