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Famous Opals

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.

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