The Australian Opal circuit shows have now finished with mixed results. We saw high demand for rough opal more so than cut stones. This review will look at each of the show stops and discuss what we witnessed and our opinions of the industry as of July 2018.
A local mining company paid for all the opal sellers booth so there was a very good turnout of sellers, and a great selection of opals. The general trend now has been for less Chinese buyers and more Indian buyers chasing low grade opal rough, known as potch and colour. This low-grade rough has quadrupled in price over last few years. In the Outback Opal Hunters TV series you will notice that the buyers in Coober Pedy are from India.
This is traditionally q rough opal market, and many buyers travelled a long way to visit this historical opal mining town. There was a high demand for rough with many of the vendours selling out.
The locals support this show with over 50 booths, and once again strong demand for the rough opal.
Seller booths were down because many of the boulder opal sellers who sold out during the Winton and Yowah shows had to cancel their booths.
Local Black Opal rough was scarce due to the constant drought and opal miners not being able to wash their dirt. Cooper Pedy opal sellers reported good sales at this show.
At the Lightning Ridge show we were lucky enough to meet up with the filming crew from the Outback Opal Hunters TV show. Lets see what comes out of that.
This is the last show in the circuit so sellers and customer attendances were down. Only wholesalers had stock and many opal miners didn’t attend. Most business was selling opals to the trade with few international buyers attending.
Many opal buyers complain that opal miners sold stocks before the show circuit started, so it was very difficult to get the best deals. Demand is so strong for rough opal that miners do not have to hold for the show circuit. This is now a serious problem for the Opal show circuit.
Another change is the emergence of Grey nomads or overseas buyers, mostly Germans hiring camping vans and travelling to the opal fields and buying direct from the opal miners.
One American couple said in the future they will visit 1 month before or after the show circuit as they did not enjoy being told the opal rough had been sold before the shows started.
If you are visiting or want to experience the fun of the outback towns, and if time is limited we suggest Yowah as the town supports this event and visitors are welcomed. This is a very small town so visitors must have campers as there is no accommodation available .
Camp fires at Yowah are such a fantastic experience.
Another change we witnessed is the emergence of young Chinese buyers who take images of the opals on display and share to Chinese buyers on WeChat. WeChat is similar to Facebook here in the west and has a payment wallet gateway, so buyers can pay instantly for the opal. They worked the Lightning Ridge show but offered medium price opals with no high-end sales reported.
Opal sales on opal auctions were up 22% on last year and our contestantly updated opal trends report is a great place to stay up to date with what is going on.
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