Aurora Australis - famous opals
Aurora Australis - famous opals

16 Famous Opals and Their Amazing Stories


These sixteen famous opals include some of the largest and most beautiful in the world. Learn their fascinating backstories in this article.

9 Minute Read

Famous Opals from Australia

With Australia producing most of the world's opal, it's no wonder that so many famous opal specimens come from Down Under. Here are the stories behind these famous opals.

The Aurora Australis

An impressive stone, the "Aurora Australis" shows a harlequin pattern in blue, green, and red. At 180 carats and with this coveted, rare pattern, this opal is currently valued at an estimated AU$1,000,000.

Miner Charlie Dunstan unearthed this opal in Lightning Ridge in 1938. At the time, there was little demand for large black opals, but Altman and Cherney acquired the stone in a pre-formed state and polished it. If you want to see the "Aurora Australis," it's on display at their Sydney showroom.

The Fire Queen

An earlier Charlie Dunstan discovery, the "Fire Queen" or "Dunstan's Stone" is another find from Lightning Ridge. This opal was described as "beautiful beyond description" and a "living ball of fire." According to legend, Dunstan received only £100 for this 900-carat heavyweight. The stone passed through many hands before J. D. Rockefeller added it to his collection in 1949 for a sum of £75,000.

The Flame Queen

Not to be confused with the "Fire Queen,"...


Addison Rice

A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison’s interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth’s geological processes began in her elementary school’s environmental club. When she isn’t writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!