The Flame Queen Opal: World's Most Expensive Opal
Opal plamene kraljice: najskuplji opal na svijetu
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the flame queen world's most expensive opalThere are plenty of record-breaking opals, but which is the most expensive opal? That honor goes to the Flame Queen opal, the most expensive opal in the world that sold for the modern-day equivalent of over $3 million.

The Flame Queen opal has a couple of other names — it’s also called the “Fire Queen” opal and “Dunstan’s Stone.”

In this guide, we’ll fill you in on the legendary history of the Flame Queen opal, its many fascinating characteristics, and just how much this record-breaking opal is worth.

the flame queen world's most expensive opal

What Is the Flame Queen Opal?

The Flame Queen opal is an unmounted black nobby opal weighing 261.03 carats (52.21 grams). The stone’s dimensions are roughly 72 x 58 x 11.5 mm (2.8 x 2.3 x 0.45 in).

Its form is triangular and somewhat pear-shaped. Additionally, the Flame Queen displays beautiful and rare red color flashes, so it’s sometimes called a “red-on-black” opal. The border is greenish-blue and the color flashes appear electric blue under certain types of lighting.

If some of those terms above confused you, we’ll break down what they mean.

An “unmounted” stone is simply a loose gem, not attached or mounted to any type of jewelry or display stand. This term is important for measuring the weight of gems alone, rather than the total weight of a piece of gemstone jewelry.

Next, black opal is a type of opal with a dark body tone, meaning the base or background color. An opal must fall between N1 to N4 on the body tone chart to count as a black opal.

Black is the rarest, most valuable opal color for both its scarcity and the way the dark background allows for a brighter play-of-color when the opal is precious rather than common. Red color flashes (another term for play-of-color) are especially prized.

If you’ve ever wondered: what is the world’s most expensive black opal? The Flame Queen opal holds that record as well!

Lastly, “nobby” refers to a shape of rough (uncut) opal almost exclusively found at the famous Lightning Ridge fields of Australia. It’s characterized by a naturally lump-like shape, though there are some variations. One nobby shape called a “witch’s hat” or “China hat” has a flat base and cone-like shape with a peaked center.

This opal is among the many famous opals in Australian mining history.

So, who discovered the Flame Queen opal? And when was it discovered?

Lightning Ridge Miners Association

History of the Flame Queen Opal

The Flame Queen opal was discovered in Lightning Ridge, Australia, in the early 1900s. There are two conflicting stories surrounding its discovery. One credits three partners for making the discovery around 1914, while the other credits Charlie Dunstan as discovering it in 1906.

We’ll cover the Dunstan story first.

First Theory: Charlie Dunstan

According to some reports, Charlie Dunstan discovered the “Fire Queen” opal in 1906 at the Angledool Diggings in Lightning Ridge, Australia, initially naming it “Dunstan’s Stone.”

The opal allegedly weighed 900 carats, and Dunstan soon sold it for £100, which translates to £8,152 or $10,001 dollars in modern-day. Tragically, Dunstan was found dead in his hut soon after.

From there, the opal’s ownership changed a few times, landing in the Chicago Museum in 1928 where it was valued at £40,000 (£1,992,684 or $2.4 million today). It was then renamed the “Fire Queen” opal, though it’s still called the “Flame Queen” today.

American business magnate J.D. Rockefeller bought the opal in the 1940s for £75,000, which translates to the record-breaking $3,620,700 amount that the opal is known for.

Second Theory: Phillips, Bradley, and Hegarty

The alternate story about the Flame Queen’s discovery starts with three men who established the Bald Hill Workings area, expanding on the digging after a previous miner who had started digging there left to serve in World War I.

Those three partners were Jack Phillips, Walter Bradley, and “Irish” Joe Hegarty.

This was right around the “opal rush” of 1914-1915, when an accidental discovery by a 14-year old boy kicked off the establishment of many of the now-famous Australian opal mining fields.

Hegarty finished digging the tunnel, but didn’t find much valuable opal initially. He and Bradley dug a dangerous vertical tunnel, and the risk paid off when Bradley discovered the Flame Queen nobby opal around 35 feet underground.

Bradley had the most gem-cutting expertise, so he cut and polished the rough opal. Once done, his work revealed a red dome with a greenish-blue border.

The men needed money, so they quickly sold the opal to Australian opal dealer Ernie Sherman for £93, the modern-day equivalent of £7,581 or $9,300. Sherman was the same dealer who bought the famous Pride of Australia opal.

Soon after, Sherman sold the Flame Queen to a British opal collector, Kelsey I. Newman.

The Flame Queen was exhibited (as part of Newman’s collection) in 1937 at the Geological Museum of London to honor King George VI’s coronation. The opal remained in Newman’s collection until 1973, when the renowned auction house Christie’s acquired it.

That brings us to the many times the Flame Queen opal was auctioned.

flame queen opal historyImage credit: David Plane

The Flame Queen Opal Price

The record-breaking Flame Queen opal sale happened in 1980, when it was auctioned via Christie’s for $1 million to a private client via David Callaghan; the client was likely Jack Plane. That amount equates to roughly $3.4 million today!

Callaghan was the Chairman of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain at the time, and he convinced Plane to allow them to borrow the Flame Queen to display at Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee celebration.

The Flame Queen was displayed at the Geological Museum in South Kensington until 1981.

In 2008, Bonham’s held a Natural History auction in Los Angeles, California, USA, offering the "Rare and Renowned Red-on-Black Opal - The Flame Queen” for auction. In the Bonham’s auction, the Flame Queen sold for $120,000.

Various private collectors kept the opal until 2020. In Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in New York held in July of that year, the Flame Queen was auctioned as the “Property from the Collection of Gloria Manney.” It sold for $87,500.

Why is the Flame Queen Opal So Expensive?

The Flame Queen opal’s impressive price comes from a few factors. For one, it has historical significance in its early-1900s origin, especially being found around the previously mentioned “opal rush.”

Secondly, the Flame Queen may not be the largest opal ever found, but it’s still quite large.

Lastly, the Flame Queen is beloved for its unique and rare appearance. Besides being a rare black opal, it also has bright red flashes that may appear electric blue under certain types of lighting and a greenish-blue border.

Of course, the Flame Queen opal isn’t the only famous opal in history.

Other Record-Breaking Opals

Grading opal value is complex, so there are many opals that hold significant value for different reasons. Besides the Flame Queen, some of the other record-breaking or otherwise famous opals include:

Virgin Rainbow Opal

virgin rainbow opal

The Virgin Rainbow opal is often cited as the world’s most expensive opal by those who don’t account for inflation adjustments, as it’s valued at $1 million. Its impressive size, color spectrum, and glow-in-the-dark properties have led many to call it the most beautiful opal ever found.

This opal is a precious black crystal opal and technically an opalized fossil — also called a belemnite opal — as it formed in the impression left by a prehistoric marine animal.

Olympic Australis

Olympic Australis The Worlds Most Famous Opal

The Olympic Australis is an uncut white opal often credited as the largest uncut opal in the world at 17,000 carats (7.5 lb or 3.4 kg). It sold for nearly $2.5 million (AUD) in 1997. It’s currently owned by John Altmann and Rudi Cherny, who display it in their showroom in Sydney, Australia.

Speaking of the largest opals…

Halley’s Comet Opal

halley's comet opal

Halley’s Comet opal holds the Guinness World Record for the largest uncut black opal nobby at 1,982.5 carats. It’s also the largest opal nobby ever found at Lightning Ridge. It was discovered when Halley’s Comet was appearing in Australia, hence the name. In 2006, it was available at auction for $1.2 million.

But Halley’s Comet opal isn’t the biggest black opal ever found.

Sea of Opal

sea of opalImage credit: Mckenna Praetorius

The Guinness World Record for the biggest black opal in the world goes to the Sea of Opal, which weighs 11,340.95 carats. The stone features a central blue patch resembling a swimming fish and a green flash reminiscent of seaweed.

In 2015, the Sea of Opal was being offered at auction for $150,000 to $250,000.

Now, what is the rarest opal in the world? Many would say the Eternal Flame opal.

Eternal Flame Opal


Another contender among the largest opals in the world is the Eternal Flame opal, a black crystal opal weighing 568 carats that displays a stunning rainbow color-play.

It’s also considered the rarest opal in the world, as it formed in volcanic soils instead of inland. Most volcanic opals are under 10 carats, making the Eternal Flame’s size that much more impressive.

How much does the eternal flame opal cost? The stone is valued at over $675,000.

Fire of Australia

fire-of-australia-opal-sa-museum1.jpgImage credit: South Australia Museum, Paula McManus

The last famous opal we’ll discuss is one you may confuse for the Flame Queen: the Fire of Australia. The Fire of Australia has been dubbed the “world’s finest uncut opal” by some. It weighs 4,990 carats (about the size of a softball) and is valued at over $675,000. Another notable quality of the opal is its spectrum of color flashes.

The Flame Queen: An Opal of Royal Proportions

Though the most beautiful opal in the world is largely subjective, the Flame Queen is objectively the most valuable. With a unique shape, rare color flashes, and over a century of history, the Flame Queen is certainly worthy of its acclaim.

Find your own beautiful opal today!

plamena kraljica najskuplji opal na svijetu Postoji mnogo opala koji obaraju rekorde, ali koji je najskuplji opal? Ta čast pripada opalu Flame Queen, najskupljem opalu na svijetu koji je prodan za današnji ekvivalent od preko 3 milijuna dolara.

Opal plamene kraljice ima još nekoliko naziva — također se naziva opal “Vatrena kraljica” i “Dunstanov kamen”.

U ovom ćemo vam vodiču objasniti legendarnu povijest opala Flame Queen, njegove mnoge fascinantne karakteristike i koliko vrijedi ovaj opal koji obara rekorde.

plamena kraljica najskuplji opal na svijetu

Što je Flame Queen Opal?

Opal Flame Queen je nemontirani crni nobby opal težak 261,03 karata (52,21 grama). Dimenzije kamena su otprilike 72 x 58 x 11,5 mm (2,8 x 2,3 x 0,45 inča).

Oblik mu je trokutast i pomalo kruškolik. Uz to, plamena kraljica prikazuje prekrasne i rijetke bljeskove crvene boje, pa se ponekad naziva opal "crveno na crnom". Rub je zelenkasto-plav, a bljeskovi boje izgledaju električno plavo pod određenim vrstama osvjetljenja.

Ako su vas neki od ovih pojmova zbunili, pojasnit ćemo što oni znače.

Nemontirani ” kamen jednostavno je labavi dragulj, koji nije pričvršćen ili montiran na bilo koju vrstu nakita ili stalka za izlaganje. Ovaj izraz je važan za mjerenje težine samo dragulja, a ne ukupne težine komada nakita od dragog kamenja.

Dalje, crni opal je vrsta opala s tamnim tjelesnim tonom, što znači osnovna ili pozadinska boja. Opal mora biti između N1 i N4 na karti tonova tijela da bi se računao kao crni opal.

Crna je najrjeđa, najvrjednija boja opala zbog svoje oskudnosti i načina na koji tamna pozadina omogućuje svjetliju igru boja kada je opal dragocjen, a ne uobičajen . Posebno su cijenjeni bljeskovi crvene boje (drugi izraz za igru boja).

Ako ste se ikada zapitali: koji je najskuplji crni opal na svijetu? Opal Flame Queen drži i taj rekord!

Na kraju, " nobby " se odnosi na oblik grubog (nebrušenog) opala koji se gotovo isključivo nalazi na poznatim poljima Lightning Ridgea u Australiji. Karakterizira ga prirodni kvrgavi oblik, iako postoje neke varijacije. Jedan otmjeni oblik koji se naziva "vještičji šešir" ili "kineski šešir" ima ravnu osnovu i stožasti oblik sa šiljastim središtem.

Ovaj opal jedan je od mnogih poznatih opala u povijesti australskog rudarstva .

Dakle, tko je otkrio opal Flame Queen? I kada je to otkriveno?

Udruga rudara Lightning Ridgea

Povijest Flame Queen Opal

Opal Flame Queen otkriven je u Lightning Ridgeu u Australiji početkom 1900-ih. Postoje dvije oprečne priče oko njegovog otkrića. Jedan pripisuje trojici partnera za otkriće oko 1914., dok drugi pripisuje Charlieju Dunstanu da ga je otkrio 1906.

Prvo ćemo obraditi priču o Dunstanu.

Prva teorija: Charlie Dunstan

Prema nekim izvješćima, Charlie Dunstan otkrio je opal "Vatrena kraljica" 1906. godine u Angledool Diggings u Lightning Ridgeu u Australiji, prvo ga je nazvao "Dunstanov kamen".

Opal je navodno težio 900 karata, a Dunstan ga je ubrzo prodao za 100 funti, što u prijevodu znači 8.152 funte ili 10.001 dolar u današnje vrijeme. Tragično, Dunstan je ubrzo nakon toga pronađen mrtav u svojoj kolibi.

Otada se vlasništvo nad opalom nekoliko puta promijenilo, pa je 1928. dospio u Chicaški muzej gdje je procijenjen na 40.000 funti (1.992.684 funte ili 2,4 milijuna dolara danas). Tada je preimenovan u "Vatrena kraljica" opal, iako se i danas zove "Plamena kraljica".

Američki poslovni magnat JD Rockefeller kupio je opal 1940-ih za 75.000 funti, što znači rekordnih 3.620.700 dolara po kojima je opal poznat.

Druga teorija: Phillips, Bradley i Hegarty

Alternativna priča o otkriću Plamene kraljice počinje s tri čovjeka koji su osnovali radno područje Bald Hill, proširujući kopanje nakon što je prethodni rudar koji je ondje počeo kopati otišao služiti u Prvom svjetskom ratu.

Ta tri partnera bili su Jack Phillips, Walter Bradley i “Irac” Joe Hegarty.

Bilo je to točno u vrijeme "navale opala" 1914.-1915., kada je slučajno otkriće 14-godišnjeg dječaka pokrenulo osnivanje mnogih danas poznatih australskih polja za iskopavanje opala.

Hegarty je završio s kopanjem tunela, ali u početku nije pronašao puno vrijednog opala. On i Bradley iskopali su opasan okomiti tunel, a rizik se isplatio kada je Bradley otkrio plemeniti opal Flame Queen oko 35 stopa ispod zemlje.

Bradley je imao najviše stručnjaka u brušenju dragulja, pa je rezao i polirao grubi opal. Kad je završio, njegov je rad otkrio crvenu kupolu sa zelenkasto-plavim rubom.

Muškarcima je trebao novac, pa su brzo prodali opal australskom trgovcu opalima Ernieju Shermanu za 93 funte, što je današnji ekvivalent 7581 funti ili 9300 dolara. Sherman je bio isti trgovac koji je kupio poznati opal Pride of Australia.

Ubrzo nakon toga, Sherman je prodao Flame Queen britanskom kolekcionaru opala Kelseyu I. Newmanu.

Plamena kraljica bila je izložena (kao dio Newmanove zbirke) 1937. u Geološkom muzeju u Londonu u čast krunidbe kralja Georgea VI. Opal je ostao u Newmanovoj kolekciji do 1973. godine, kada ga je kupila renomirana aukcijska kuća Christie's.

To nas dovodi do toga koliko je puta opal Flame Queen bio stavljen na aukciju.

plamena kraljica opala povijest Autor slike: David Plane

The Flame Queen Opal Cijena

Rekordna prodaja opala Flame Queen dogodila se 1980. godine, kada je prodan na aukciji preko Christie's za milijun dolara privatnom klijentu preko Davida Callaghana; klijent je vjerojatno bio Jack Plane. Taj iznos danas iznosi otprilike 3,4 milijuna dolara !

Callaghan je u to vrijeme bio predsjedavajući Udruge za gemologiju Velike Britanije i uvjerio je Planea da im dopusti posudbu Plamene kraljice za izlaganje na proslavi zlatnog jubileja kraljice Elizabete.

Plamena kraljica bila je izložena u Geološkom muzeju u Južnom Kensingtonu do 1981.

Godine 2008. Bonham's je održao aukciju Natural History u Los Angelesu, Kalifornija, SAD, nudeći na dražbu "Rijedak i renomirani crveno-crni opal - Plamena kraljica". Na Bonhamovoj aukciji, Plamena kraljica prodana je za 120.000 dolara.

Različiti privatni kolekcionari čuvali su opal do 2020. Na aukciji Christie's Magnificent Jewels u New Yorku održanoj u srpnju te godine, Plamena kraljica je bila na aukciji kao "Vlasništvo iz zbirke Glorije Manney". Prodano je za 87.500 dolara.

Zašto je Flame Queen Opal tako skup?

Impresivna cijena opala Flame Queen dolazi iz nekoliko čimbenika. Kao prvo, ima povijesni značaj u svom podrijetlu iz ranih 1900-ih, posebno ako se nalazi oko prethodno spomenutog "opalskog rogoza".

Drugo, Plamena kraljica možda nije najveći opal ikada pronađen, ali je ipak prilično velik.

Na kraju, plamena kraljica je omiljena zbog svog jedinstvenog i rijetkog izgleda. Osim što je rijedak crni opal, također ima jarko crvene bljeskove koji mogu izgledati električno plavi pod određenim vrstama osvjetljenja i zelenkasto-plavi rub.

Naravno, opal Flame Queen nije jedini poznati opal u povijesti.

Ostali opali koji obaraju rekorde

Ocjenjivanje vrijednosti opala je složeno, tako da postoje mnogi opali koji imaju značajnu vrijednost iz različitih razloga. Osim Plamene kraljice, neki od drugih rekordnih ili inače poznatih opala uključuju:

Djevičanski dugin opal

djevičanski dugin opal

Opal Virgin Rainbow često se navodi kao najskuplji opal na svijetu od strane onih koji ne uzimaju u obzir prilagodbe inflacije, jer se procjenjuje na milijun dolara. Njegova impresivna veličina, spektar boja i svojstva svjetla u mraku naveli su mnoge da ga nazovu najljepšim opalom ikada pronađenim.

Ovaj opal je dragocjeni crni kristalni opal i tehnički opalizirani fosil — koji se naziva i belemnitski opal — kakav je nastao u otisku pretpovijesne morske životinje.

Olimpijski Australis

Olympic Australis Najpoznatiji opal na svijetu

Olimpijski Australis je nebrušeni bijeli opal koji se često smatra najvećim nebrušenim opalom na svijetu sa 17 000 karata (7,5 lb ili 3,4 kg). Prodan je za gotovo 2,5 milijuna dolara (AUD) 1997. godine. Trenutno je u vlasništvu Johna Altmanna i Rudija Chernyja, koji ga izlažu u svom izložbenom prostoru u Sydneyu, Australija.

Kad već govorimo o najvećim opalima...

Halleyev komet Opal

halejev komet opal

Opal Halleyeva kometa drži Guinnessov svjetski rekord za najveći nebrušeni crni opal od 1982,5 karata. To je također najveći opal nobby ikada pronađen u Lightning Ridgeu. Otkriven je kada se Halleyjev komet pojavljivao u Australiji, otuda i naziv. Godine 2006. bio je dostupan na aukciji za 1,2 milijuna dolara.

Ali opal Halleyeva kometa nije najveći crni opal ikada pronađen.

Opalno more

more od opala Autor slike: Mckenna Praetorius

Guinnessov svjetski rekord za najveći crni opal na svijetu pripada Opalskom moru, koje teži 11.340,95 karata. Kamen ima središnju plavu mrlju koja podsjeća na ribu koja pliva i zeleni bljesak koji podsjeća na morsku travu.

Godine 2015. Sea of Opal nudio se na aukciji za 150.000 do 250.000 dolara.

Sada, koji je najrjeđi opal na svijetu? Mnogi bi rekli opal Vječnog plamena.

Opal vječnog plamena


Još jedan kandidat među najvećim opalima na svijetu je opal Vječnog plamena, crni kristalni opal težak 568 karata koji prikazuje zadivljujuću igru duginih boja.

Također se smatra najrjeđim opalom na svijetu, jer je nastao u vulkanskom tlu umjesto u unutrašnjosti. Većina vulkanskih opala je ispod 10 karata, što čini veličinu Vječnog plamena još impresivnijom.

Koliko košta opal vječnog plamena? Kamen je procijenjen na više od 675.000 dolara.

Vatra Australije

fire-of-australia-opal-sa-museum1.jpg Autor slike: Muzej Južne Australije, Paula McManus

Posljednji poznati opal o kojem ćemo raspravljati je onaj koji biste mogli zamijeniti za Plamenu kraljicu: Vatra Australije. Požar Australije neki su prozvali "najboljim nebrušenim opalom na svijetu". Težak je 4990 karata (otprilike veličine lopte za softball) i procijenjen je na više od 675 000 dolara. Još jedna značajna kvaliteta opala je njegov spektar bljeskova boja.

Plamena kraljica: Opal kraljevskih proporcija

Iako je najljepši opal na svijetu u velikoj mjeri subjektivan, Plamena kraljica je objektivno najvrjednija. S jedinstvenim oblikom, rijetkim bljeskovima boja i više od jednog stoljeća povijesti, Flame Queen je svakako dostojna svog priznanja.

Pronađite svoj prekrasan opal danas!

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