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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Dark Jubilee Opal

Photograph of the Zale Dark Jubilee opal (NMNH G8827) with reflection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G8827-00
Locality South Australia, Australia
Weight 318.44 ct

Gift of Zale Corporation in 1980.

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 are typically cut as cabochons or polished free-form to best show the play-of-color. The Dark Jubilee Opal pictured here is a 318.4-carat free-form polished black opal from a mine in Coober Pedy, Australia, another famous region known for black opals. Coober Pedy means “a man in a hole” in a regional aboriginal language, and many miners do live in the underground excavations there.


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