Ethiopian Opals


On my last trip to Addis Ababa in may 2012 , I met this local opal dealer dressed in a silvery business suit.

He said he had to go to a wedding out of town and I bought a interesting rough parcel from him.He then said he had some rough specimens back at his house so he offered to take me there.He had 2 other friends so we all packed in to a small car and drove off.

We headed out of town on a main hwy which the Japanese built for about a hour before we turned off on to some rough roads. It was a this point I was wondering if i was going to be kidnapped!!.We then drove in to a ghetto type area of older buildings and entered his clean but modest house. To my relief he bought out some interesting black crystal rough specimens which I eventually bought after much bargaining. He also had some emerald rough which was of low quality and I thought good for making beads. It turned out he was asking us $3000 a kilo where as I was thinking $50 kilo. Apparently the dealers here check the internet for prices and ask sky high prices for there material thinking they have top grade material.

After agreeing to a price i have to go back to Australia to transfer the funds to him.He then takes the payment receipt and stock to the government who inspect it and seal it for export.

The govt has a minimum price for certain sizes on which the seller pays tax. They do not have prices for different grades so you can get a low value for gem grade material.

P Sedawie Volcanic Opals



Ethopian Opals are valued for their bright flashes of colour. Ethiopian Opals are nobby-formed rather than seam-formed and have characteristically brown or dark-nodule potch. Ethiopian opals with their vivid sunburnt green and red flashes and patterns are prized by collectors.

Gondar,Wello  a new field only worked in the last few years, is more of a crystal formation than Ethopian opals. These too are valued for their bright colours.

Ethiopian Opals have only begun to be mined recently. However, anthropologists report that around 4,000 years BC, early man used opals to make tools, which means that Africa mined opals even before Australia.

Source your single-gem or parcel Ethiopian Opals direct from opal miners and wholesaler/dealers.

See the Ethiopian Opal Grading Chart.


Ethiopian Opals

Ethiopian opals are one of the most amazing stones on the market. The plays of colours often go through the whole piece of rough, which make it an easier to produce a nice form with remarkable patterns as well as plays of colour that can be seen anywhere else in the natural world. This type of Opal has proved itself to be just as stable as any of the premium Australian opals but at lower prices.


During the time of the ancient Roman and Greeks Ethiopian opal was often perceived as a Promethean cut stone that had stole fire from the gods and give it to mankind. As a reprimand that the gods bestowed opal with a reaction to heat that would make the high-water content silica gel to dry out and break up, referred to as “crazing” by gem dealers.


These stones have attracted some stone enthusiasts who have made it a foundation of their business. Until late last year, all Ethiopian opal was available along the Yita Ridge, an opal fields, 150 miles northeast of Addis Ababa. There is a good reason for this it not only produces the prettiest colours in the marketplace but it is also the best value. In the beginning this actually put Australian opal dealers out of the market and into Ethiopia where they can purchase opal for less than what it costs to mine it in Australia. 


In addition the Chinese, European, and Australian dealers’ late entrance into the Ethiopian opal market led to a demand shock causing the price of rough material to increase and to double mine production for the last 3 months! 


The well-known Australian fields of Lightning Ridge, Andamooka, and Coober Pedy were all established between 1900 and 1928. It was not until 1990 when Ethiopian opal was discovered and commercial production begun in 2008.

Ethiopian opal is becoming more popular as alternatives such as well-enhanced grade triplet and doublet opals are becoming more complicated to obtain. Approximately, 30% of the doublet material now originates from Brazil and is combined with the Australian material.


In addition this opal occurs in broad-flash and hydrophane varieties which is often significant for Brazilian and Australian buyers who appreciate the colour. Overall, Ethiopian opals are the new frontier and they have a beauty all of its own.

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