White Opal is much more common than the black one, which doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. Before Europeans ever reached Australian shores white opals were already known and mined in Hungary. The consensus at that time was that opal can only have white to transparent base. Today most of white opals come from the Coober Pedy area of Australia but other localities can bear them as well. Virtually every Australian deposit, Lightning Ridge included, provides this type of opal. Production is not limited to the “down under” exclusively.
Brazilian and Ethiopian mines produce white opals as well. Collectors value Brazilian stones for their superior hardness but they relatively rare to come by. While Ethiopia mines large quantities of hydrophane gems with interesting patterns.
While not commanding price premium that darker varieties of opal have, white opals can offer an attractive bargain. Top grade stones with attractive fire are still rare and coveted. The lower range is most commonly used in mass produced, high street grade jewellery.
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