Ethiopian Opal is a newcomer on the opal market. It was discovered and emerged in 2008 in Welo region. Since then it gained popularity fast, thanks to a couple of factors. It has very competitive price. Red-rich colour spectrum (red is traditionally rarest colour for Australian stones) and amazing patterns, unique to this deposit. Another advantage is availability of large, thick opal pieces that Ethiopian miners provide. That is something that most other opal deposits struggle with.
Almost all Ethiopian opals are of hydrophane variety.It means their structure is porous and can absorb a lot of water. Up to 10% of weight gains are not uncommon. While hydrated, many will become temporarily transparent and look like crystal opals. While in that state, most stones will have their play of colour diminished. Small percentage will show their play colour stronger. When dry, Ethiopian Welo opals usually belong to white or crystal opal variety. With a small number having a dark base.
Number of tests conducted by the GIA have shown that these new opals have very good toughness. None of the test samples broke after being dropped on the concrete floor from 1.5m.