Opal market monthly review focuses on Opal Auctions ‘Best Sales’ on a monthly basis. The monthly breakdown asses the top 4 opal categories: Black Opal, Boulder Opal, Rough Opal and Ethiopian Opal. This review is an important source for sellers and buyers to analyse which opals are currently best to invest on.
The opal market experiences trends and changes which can occur rapidly or gradually. There are several reasons this can occur. The production of opals in the field is not guaranteed, which means the supply is affected. The biggest trend has been the increase of younger buyers. The millennials (aged between 18-30 years) and the generation x (aged between 30-40 years) have been purchasing more opals online.
The Opal sales for the month of May were steady with 2,082 Opals sold. The top Opal sale was a gem Black Opal weighing 2.60 carats that sold for $8,500, representing $3,270 per carat. Black Opals experienced a high volume of searches from buyers, however they purchase Opals in different Opal categories. Some categories had substantial increases in sales compared to the same period last year.
Coober Pedy Opal sales have increased by 276%. This was due to two factors, the Opal Hunters discovery TV series which showcased Opal mining in Coober Pedy and also due to our sellers listing better quality Opals during the month. We expect the demand to continue strongly in this category.
Opal Triplet sales have increased by 248%. Once again our sellers have been listing top quality triplet gems and the demand was strongest for these top end Opals.
Doublet Opal sales increased by 105% with the strongest demand for parcel lots. The Opal jewelry manufacturers have been the strongest buyers in this category.
Boulder Opals sales increased by 14%, this category has seen strong demand continually for the past 6 months.
Rough Opal sales are up by 65%, with a strong demand for commercial style Black and Boulder Opal parcels that are ideal for volume cutting.
Ethiopian, Black and Crystal Opals were steady with no increase of sales. Black Opal jewelry had strong sales in the 18k gold pendant category.
The sales were below average for April, this was due to the record month in March which has affected the purchasing of repeat buyers. This month 2,357 Opals have been sold and we’ve also reached a new record of 350,000 Opal sales since Opal Auctions began.
Boulder Opal – The Boulder Opal category had the strongest sales this month. Our buyers spent on average over 10 minutes viewing Boulder Opal auctions, which is double the average amount of time spent viewing in other Opal categories.
Parcel Lots – There was a strong demand for parcel lots in April. White Opals, Crystal Opals and parcels of newly listed Mintabie rough Opal were snapped up quickly as they were being listed.
The Mintabie Opal fields are due to close by the Australian Government. This has resulted in an increase of demand as many Opal collectors are trying to source this material while it’s still available.
Ethiopian Opal– Ethiopian Opal was the second most searched for and purchased Opal for April.
Customer Device Usage - Over 63% of our Opal buyers now use their mobile phones or tablets while 37% use their desktop computer.
Customer Gender - 52.7% of our Opal buyers are male and 47.3% are female.
New Customers vs Returning Customers - 52.6% of our Opal buyers are return customers and 47.4% are new customers.
Ages of Opal Buyers - Good news! Younger buyers are now enjoying Opals.
The percentages of each age group based on an average session on Opal Auctions
25-34 - 28.3%
35-44 - 19.4%
55-64 - 16.6%
45-54 - 16.0%
18-24 - 10.7%
65+ - 9.0%
Opal Auctions has had another record month with a strong demand across all categories.
BLACK OPALS - The top sale was a large black opal of 24 carats for $24,500 at just over $1,000 per carat. Good quality black opals between 1-3 carts sold around $1500 per carat and small black opal that weighed under one carat sold between $200 to $300 per carat. Opal sellers were listing more small black opals than usual around the 0.80 carats and had sold well. Black opal sales under $100 are slow and demand is for high quality ring stone priced between $900 to $3,000.
BOULDER OPAL - Once again boulder opal was the stand out category with an average opal selling for $117. Boulder opals under $150 were the strongest in this price point as buyers have a large selection to choose from.
The total items listed in each category below $150 are:
Another reason why boulder opals have the most volume sales is due to the wood fossil boulder opals. Approximately 18 months ago there was only 20 wood fossil boulder opals listed, but now over 1,000 are listed and thousands have already sold. Late in 2017 several boulder opal miners found large pockets and this particular opal field have been very popular with buyers for producing large unique boulder opals. Boulder pipe opals were also popular and it sells out quickly. Black Opal is searched three times more compared to Boulder opal however buyer purchase more Boulder opals due to lower price points and represents good value.
ETHIOPIAN OPAL - The demand for low grade Ethiopian crystal opals were low as buyers look for top pattern large caboched opals around $100 per carat. Cabochon opals 10 to 20 carats were in high demand. Several 10-15 carat opals sold between $900 to $1500. It was not only honeycomb pattern, but all unique patterns opals cabochon sold well.
OPAL JEWELRY - Opal ring sales have increased in March due to the new Guest checkout system. Good black and boulder gold rings were selling around $390 to $590 and had the highest demand. The top price was just under $3,000 for black opal ring.
CHANGE IN BUYING STRATEGY - No Reserve Auction was steady at 30% sales, however it had a low demand for bottom grade opals. Make An Offer strategy had doubled last years figures and the buyers are enjoying this easy system of buying. The Guest Checkout system for single items purchases accounted for a staggering 25% of the sales, which is especially strong in the one-off purchases of opal jewelry. Also another advantage of the Guest Checkout is that retail shops are using this sytem to be discreet.
DOUBLET OPAL - For the first-time doublet opal appeared in top 5 categories. The price points of $150 to $350 were strong, with top end sales around $1250. Searches and demand for doublets are now increasing.
In header bar of the website you can view the top 5 categories in order of the highest value. This system changes weekly and is a great indication of what type opal has the highest demand.
The February opal sales were affected by our improvement to the new online system. Many of the buyers were confused with the difference between’ Guest Checkout’ and the “Buy It Now’.
The last two weeks of sales returned back to normal figures after the initial change to the new system. There were 2,749 opals sold for the month of February.
The top sale was a black opal that sold for $4,000. The Black opal category received twice as many hits than Boulder opals and Ethiopian opals, however Boulder opals was the top category for volume and sales.
The last week of February, we identified high searches on the site for Ethiopian opals. There were strong sales for Ethiopian opals weighing between 5 to 12 carat and for prices that ranged between $500 to $1800. These strong selling opals featured high cabochons and interesting patterns.
We observed that most of the new buyers using ‘Guest Checkout’ were Ethiopian opal buyers. Our Guest Checkout is designed to assist one-off opal buyers who do not need or want to register on the site.
The No Reserve opal auctions were steady with complete variety of different opals selling with strong bids.
The top category for the month of February is Boulder opal. Boulder opal rough, rubs and stones sold exceptionally well.
January and June are usually the slowest months during the year, however this month we are up 22% more than last year’s January sales. This month 2,685 opals have sold. Currently Opal Auctions have sold 342,447 opals to date.
The top opal sale was a 152-carat Black opal that sold for $11,500. The price per carat was only $75 for a quality Black opal specimen.
Clean Black opals that are suitable for rings priced between $800 and $1200 were in good demand. Two-carat Black opals priced around $3000 were also in demand. Good Black opals were selling up to $1500 per carat.
Boulder opals stones had the most volume sold with so much good value between $300 to $500 opals.
Ethiopian opals sold in the No Reserve Category were selling for only $10 per carat, however there was a demand for larger and better quality Ethiopian opals. There were several dark brown Ethiopian opals that sold for $900 and $1000. The top sale for Ethiopian opals was a 42-carat high domed opal that sold for $3,000. There is a trend for buyers that seek out high domed Ethiopian opal ring stone that show a good pattern.
Traditionally January is the strongest selling month for Rough opal. Boulder rough had the highest demand and sold well in the No Reserve Rough Opal Category. Ethiopian opal sold at the lower price end.
The Black opal rough sales were steady. New listings of Black opal rough were not showing enough color bars to entice buyers.
Crystal rough sales have crashed. We predict that it is due to all the synthetic opal jewelry in the market that are replacing the natural crystal rough, which are used for inlay in opal jewelry.
The current trend for the age demographic of Opal buyers -
Good news for the opal industry is that younger buyers have now discovered opal!
18-24-year old’s buyer purchase more items than 65 plus opal buyers.
25-34-year old’s buyer purchase more items than 55-64 opal buyers.
Older buyers are staying longer on site however they buy less than the younger buyers.
Buyers that purchase from mobile devices make up 52.9% of sales, tablets are 9.7% and desk top are 37.4% This month 54.7 % of the sales were from return customers.
The December sales were steady after a record month in November. The first week of sales was slower than normal however it there were a total of 2,650 opals sold for the month. It was an interesting quarter with a total of 9,576 opal lots sold.
USA was the largest market and 43% of buyers were repeat customers in this quarter. The increase in sales came from secondary buyers that are located outside in USA. These buyers are re-sellers which promote and sell on other online platforms or markets in their country.
We had a group of strong buyers from Kuwait, France, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Russia and China that purchased single items. These countries are non-English native speakers, which gives them an advantage to sell our Australian opals in their country.
Chinese buyers have dropped this year due to the Chinese Government blocking online sites that are associated with PayPal, Google or USA links. This results to Opal Auctions not being visible in China, however Chinese buyers are routing through Japan to purchase opal for China. Japanese sales have increased but they are transit sales only.
Another fundamental change is older buyers aged between 55 and 65 years are now spending more time on the website, however they are buying less. In comparison the younger buyers aged between 30-40 years are spending less time bute spending more. We have observed buyer habits which are changing rapidly for Opals. The popularity of opals within the younger generation, millenials and gen X have been increasing.
Black opal and Ethiopian opal have experienced top sales between $3,000 to $5,000 and the strongest demand are for opals priced between $300 to $500.
Boulder opals had the same strong demand for clean $500 opals and boulder specimens selling between $800 to $1,500.
No Reserve opals slowed down in the last two weeks. The silver opal jewelry sold well in first two weeks.
Listings from Australians sellers had slowed down during this month due to the closure of opal mines experiencing excessive temperatures between the range of 40 to 50 degrees.
This month is record month on Opal Auctions. There has been strong demand across all sections in the opal categories. Sales volume were steady at 3,523 opals sold, however they were higher values compared to the previous quarter. Our first ever Black Friday and Cyber Monday opal promotion resulted in many new buyers purchasing opals in our ‘Make An Offer’ promotion. Our sellers reduced their prices in the ‘Make An Offer’ which resulted to buyer purchasing several items. Generally, the demand was strong for better quality opals across the categories, especially for quality opals that feature more character and uniqueness. There is an increasing popularity for opals worldwide. United States has been the strongest market followed by Europe, with strong sales in Asia which are usually not strong buyers, and surprisingly island countries in the Caribbean purchased higher priced opals.
Black opals sales had very a strong demand in the price range between $1,000 to $4,000 that were bright black opals with an N1 body tone. Sales for the higher end black opals with a lighter body tone of N2 to N4 were strong aswell, however they all seem to show bright fire colours. This proved to be important to buyers. Lower value black opals that bad picture stones also sold well.
The strongest demand were for boulder opals between the $50 to $300 price range, that showed a lot of character, especially ones that had veins or opals with either horizontal or vertical patterns. The lower end that ranged under $50 were steady. The boulder opals that sold under $1000 proved to have a quality of clean and bright colours, enhibited character inclusions or had veined lines. The category that had the highest sales volume were between $20 to $50.
Opal specimens sold well this month for black opals, boulder opals and parcel lots of boulder rubs. The sales showed a good demand for boulder opals wiht a clean face.
Repeat Ethiopian Opal buyer are always searching for unique patterns between the price points of $1,000 to $3,000. The demand is strong for $300 opals with reasonable pattern, however if the pattern is average the price drops considerably. Lower priced opals sold well in the ‘No Reserve Category’.
Silver opal rings, earrings and pendants in all categories of opal jewelry sold well with solid opals, doublets and triplets. Opals set in 18k gold rings were in steady demand, with jewelry over 15% of the total sales.
No Reserve auctions had on average 300 items listed compared to an average 150 items in the previous months. The demand was steady for Ethiopian opals in parcel lots and opal jewelry, especially parcel lots for resellers world-wide are stocking up before the Christmas rush. Single boulder rubs have also sold steady.
The was 3,325 opals sold in total, which is approximately a 10% from September sales. There was a high demand for Boulder Opals, especially Wood Vegetation Opals which were under $300, and also clean boulder stones in the $1,000-$2,000 price bracket. Black opals around the $2,000 price point were in high demand. Ethiopian opals came up strong at both under the $100 price point and between $2,000-$5,000 price range. Rough boulder parcels at around $250 with volume cutters and Jundah pipe opals were in solid demand.
On September 2017, there was a total of 3,018 opals sold, which is approximately a 17% increase from August sales. Boulder opals and Ethiopian opals came through equally strong in volume sales. The top category was Black Opal with sales between the $5,000 to $10,000 price points. Buyers bought a variety of rough opals ranging from Gamble parcel deals to clean rubbed opals.
There were 2,591 opals sold, paid and shipped for the month of August 2017. Sales have been steady for all categories however Boulder Opal sales were the strongest. The demand was strong for the newly listed Wood Fossil Boulder Opals, with the weakest deman for the lower grade boulders under $20. Black Opals and Ethiopian Opals were both steady, with a few sales on both categories ranging over the $3,000 range, but most sales averaged around the $1,000 price point.
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