Opal Trends 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 October was steady with 2,798 opals sold. The most popular category was boulder opal. Interestingly another highly sought after category includes boulder polished and rough sub categories ranging from Koroit opal, Yowah opal, Pipe opal, boulder opal pairs and boulder opal parcels. One of the most active price points was for cabochon opals around the $1000 mark and also Ethiopian opals were in very high demand. Last year we had nearly 800 opals around this price and now we have less than 500, with only 135 Ethiopian opals, 164 boulder and 198 black opals to choose from.
This month we provide an in depth information on the macro and micro opal trend report due to the many factors effecting opal supply and pricing.
Black opal sales have been steady however the volume of new listings is down due to the current drought resulting to lower production. New listings are down 15% in comparison to the same time last year. In figures it translates to 6,500 black opals listed in October last year, but only 5,500 this year.
Many opal buyers have reported that they can’t spend their money on the opal fields at Lightning Ridge and are worried about the $10,000 cash payment which will be illegal from 1st July 2019. If opal buyer pays miner over $10,000 cash, they are both breaking the law and fines will be applied.
The top opal sale was a one-carat semi black or dark opal that sold for $3,000 per carat. We have noticed a shift of opal preference from opals with body tone of N1 to now the brightness of an opal. Buyers prefer brightness to body tone.
Crystal opals mined from Coober Pedy and Australia are experiencing a high demand and unfortunately a price increase. We have mentioned in previous reports that opal prices from these opal fields will increase.
An overview of the macro report is that the Chinese buyers are leaving the opal fields due to price increase. One major Sydney based company is closing due to this price increase and as a result they cannot buy rough to cut and resell. Another Australian wholesaler has raised the price of crystal opals up to 25% and have warned of higher increases in the near future.
It will be interesting to see the adverse affect of the increase price on the Australian Crystal opal and if it will directly influence the demand for calibrated Ethiopian opals.
October sales were good for Boulder opals in Volume and price as the number one category. For sales, the top categories include Boulder with sub category’s ranking high as rough boulder opal and Pipe opal.
The No Reserve opal sales have nearly doubled since last year. Between 400 to 600 No Reserves items are constantly listed every month and it has proven to be a very popular and fun category for opal buyers. No Reserves sale is dominated by Ethiopian opal followed by Australian boulder opal. Many opal sellers have reported consistent sales for top quality opal. Many sellers have seen bidding wars on their good quality opal listings.
Good new, we have added a new sub category starting at $15 with no reserve to Opal Auctions. We are excited to see the activity for this new category.
Many repeat opal buyers have their own strategy in buying opal. Buyers have an option of bidding in $1.00 $5.00 or $10 increments and recently buyers have not been placing their highest amount bid on automatic, as example this opal (Click here to see the auction) had 341 bids to sell for $996.
The No Reserve category is far more popular than what it was a year ago, and we expect this trend to keep increasing the sales in this category. Buyers are now enjoying the fun of auctions and find it easy to get captivated following the style of the No Reserve in Opal Auctions.
We have reported about price increases and how there are a lot of factors forcing the price increases for the future. Chinese buyers have changed their purchasing patterns. A few years ago they would purchase top end black opals, today they are still buying black opals however they are purchasing more quantities of middle to lower range opals to be placed in rings stones valued under $500. Chinese buyers have also been buying Coober Pedy opals for over a century, but unfortunately most full-time buyers have now left the town as they cannot make business due to rising opal rough prices.
Indian buyers have now replaced them and as a result the price for lower grade opals has greatly increased. Chinese have been purchasing quality clean boulder opal, and we expect this to increase. Chinese buyers have also been purchasing crystal rough in large parcel lots that are mined from Opal fields like White Cliffs. Reports have showed many opal deals worth over $100,000 for bright crystals that cost under $50 per opal. The opals mined in White Cliffs have not been available online until now.
This month there are many drilling rigs searching for opals in the fields of Lightning Ridge in comparison to last year. The average drilling rig was working only between 2-3 days, and now they are working between 5-7 days. This is good news, more time spent searching and drilling might result to finding new opal fields or pockets of black opals.
Many opal buyers would be surprised to know that now you need over $100,000 to do commercial opal mining. Open cut mining pits can be up to 5 to 10 times that amount. At present we know of three open cut open mines that are losing money, as costs are so high. The opal miners are under considerable stress financially and we hope they find opal dirt soon. If large-scale mines can’t be profitable, it will make the opal industry contract. Currently hobby miners need a minimum of $10,000 to invest for cost and must comply to regulations by completing a mines department course before they can begin the opal mining.
Buyers land on black opal categories and purchase a variety opals from different opal fields. Opal buyers aged between 45-54 years spend the longest amount of time on Opal Auctions and spend the most compared to the other age categories. Opal buyers prefer to view newer listings the most and spent the longest time in the categories shown below.
The opal sales for the month of September was steady with 2,563 opals sold. Although the quantity of opals sold this month has remained steady, the average sales price of opal has increased in comparison to the last three months. The best performing category for September was Ethiopian opals. The buyers favoured the high quality stones from this category.
The sale trend for Ethiopian opals are for 10 to 30 carats, with good patterns, colors and high cabochon. These are in high demand due to the great price point and also being a good size stone for large rings. We expect the market to remain strong for these opals, especially those that are used as ring stones. Our analytics shows that buyers of Ethiopian opals have spent more time on this category than all our other categories on Opal Auctions. We had a recent instance of a seller who had listed a GIA certified Ethiopian opals and it had sold instantly. Our sister site Gem Rock Auctions is also experiencing a high demand for Certified Gemstones.
There is also a strong demand also for bright crystal opals and bright Coober Pedy opals. The demand for new listings of these opals are strong. We believe it is due to the new supply and recent new listings of bright material, which are now becoming hard to find. We expect in prices to increase in the Coober Pedy Opal category in the near future.
Black opals had some good sales for rings stones that weighed between 0.9 to 1.5 carats. However new listings are slow for black opals due to the current drought.
Boulder opals had the most volume of sales. The top three categories were Boulder Opal Stones, Boulder Pipe Opal and Yowah Opal Stones.
The sales for opal jewelry has increased compared to last year due to the sales from gold rings and silver pendants.
We have seen a rise in sales for Rough Opal. In particular, parcel deals that are priced between $150 to $300 and a few parcels selling for over $1,000.
The Opal sales for the month of August were steady with 2,656 opals sold. This is a slight 15% increase in comparison to the same period last year.
The top opal sale was a gem Black opal that weighs 1.13 carats and had sold for $5,000.00
New listings of black opal were lower this month due to a drought, which affects washing of opal bearing dirt. Therefore black opal sales were low in price points between $100 to $500.00 and as a result buyers purchased more of Boulder opal, pipe or wood and Ethiopian opal as an alternative.
Opals in gold ring sales were stronger than opal in gold pendant. Majority of the buyers preferred instant Buy It Now purchases instead Make an Offer.
The opal sales for the month of July were steady with 2,502 opals sold. There is a slight increase of 14% compared to the same period last year.
The top opal sold was a stunning $3,000 Ethiopian opal that weighed over 15 carats.
New listings of opal doublets and crystal opals had a strong demand.
Black opal sales were slow to steady and there was also a high demand for boulder pipe opals.
There is a big trend for repeat buyers that are seeking a variety of new stock. These buyers are looking for a large range of different opal types. Due to this interest from our buyers, many categories had reasonable sales.
The No Reserve category has a new record this month, with a whopping 400 items listed with a starting bid of one dollar. July is considered as a buyers a month, with plenty of opals selling for very low prices in the No Reserve.
The total amount of opal sold in this financial quarter is 6,973. Our top 6 categories, as listed below have been consistent in both the searches and the sales. In this quarter we have noticed that our sub categories have been searched eagerly by opal buyers, for example new listings of Boulder Opal reveal as the most searched category. This is a result from new listings of Pipe Opals and Wood Fossil Opals. Another example of a well-searched category with strong sales is Mintabie Rough Opal. The geographical trend of our buyers shows that the majority are based in the USA. Interestingly we have an increase of Boulder Opal sales from customers based in European countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland. The sales from our opal buyers that are based in Britain and Canada have remain stable. The sales are also generally lower in Asian countries such as Taiwan, China and Singapore, however there were good sales from customers based in Japan.
The quality items are in high demand, with Black Opal revealed as the top sale item. This quarter we had new listings of Mintabie opals and South Australian Opal Rough, which contributed to the strong sales in these two categories. As always, the ‘No Reserve’ category proves to be very popular as volume sales continue to increase.
The top black opal sold this quarter was over $3000 per carat. In the past, buyers showed preference for opals which had N1 body tone. This quarter the buyers showed more interest for opals that were brighter, which resulted to the increase in sales for semi black opals.
Boulder opals listed under the $300 price point proved to be very popular this quarter, with an increase of opals sales under Pipe Opal and Wood Fossil Opal categories.
Ethiopian opals were the most popular opals sold the No Reserve International category, whilst Boulder Opals were the most favoured under the Australian No Reserve category.
Out of the total 54 categories on Opal Auctions, 22% of the sales are from the No Reserve category and 78% are from the rest of the categories.
From these Opal Rough sub categories, Black Rough Opal from Lightning Ridge in both single and parcel lots proved to be the most popular in this quarter, whilst Boulder Opal Rough had a lower demand. This was most likely due to the strong demand for the finished stone and also due to the lack of new listings for Boulder Rough. New listings for Mintabie Rough were snapped by quickly by repeat buyers who knows how rare this opal will become when the Mintabie Township and mining will close down.
Ethiopian opals are the most popular category in the International No Reserve category. With Mexican opals increasing in sales in the end of the quarter.
There was a strong demand for large cabochon Ethiopian opals that weighed over 10 carats and contained good patterns. The demand was lower for treated smoked Ethiopian opal.
There was a strong demand for Gold Opal Rings between the price points of $290 to $325 and also between $900 to $1250. Gold opal rings had the highest price point sold over all the other sub categories from Opal Jewelry.
1. Black Opal / Black Opal Stones
2. No Reserve Opal Online Auctions / International Opals
3. Boulder Opal / Boulder Opal Stones
4. No Reserve Opal Online Auctions / Australian Opals
5. Ethiopian Opal / Ethiopian Opal Stones / Welo Opal Stones
6. Ethiopian Opal / Ethiopian Opal Stones
7. Rough Opal / Black Opal Rough
8. Rough Opal / Black Opal Rough / Black Opal Rough Parcels
9. Boulder Opal / Yowah Opal Stones
10. Boulder Opal / Boulder Pipe crystal
11. Opal Jewelry / Opal Pendants / Gold Opal Pendants / Gold Black Opal Pendants
12. No Reserve Opal Online Auctions / Jewelry Only
13. No Reserve Opal Online Auctions / Rough & Specimens Only
14. Boulder Opal / Boulder Opal Wood Fossils
15. Rough Opal / Mintabie Opal Rough
16. Rough Opal / Ethiopian Opal Rough
17. Rough Opal / Boulder Opal Rough / Boulder Opal Rough Parcels
18. Opal Triplet / Opal Triplet Parcels
19. Mexican Fire Opal / Mexican Fire Opal Stones / Cantera Opal Stones
20. Rough Opal / Boulder Opal Rough
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 but 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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