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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Black Opal Ring

Photograph of a black opal ring (NMNH G4664) from the National Gem Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G4664-00
Locality New South Wales, Australia
Weight 27 ct

Gift of Mrs. Oliver B. James in 1970.

Opals are described according to their transparency and body color. Opals with a vivid play-of-color and a black or other dark body color are called black opals. Top-quality black opals are highly prized and were discovered in the legendary Lightning Ridge opal field in Australia in 1903. Opals with a variety of intense colors, including red and violet, are generally the most valuable. Opals are typically cut as cabochons or polished free-form to best show the play-of-color. This 26.9ct black opal from Lightning Ridge, Australia, set in a yellow gold ring, exhibits a brilliant play-of-color and is of superb quality.


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