The first opal discovery in Australia was madeby Johannes Menge aGerman geologist inAngaston South Australia in 1849.Many of the early discoverieswere accidental and the initial finders did not know what they had found. For example Lightning Ridge opal was discovered after a flock of sheep was struck by lightning and after the storm the farmers uncovered “pretty pebbles” in the dirt.Commercial production of valuable opal beganat White Cliffs (NSW) in 1890. Lightning Ridge and the Queensland Boulder Opal fields followed shortly after.
The first miners in NSWsold opals toEurope bringing opals back to life for the continent as the Hungarian mines where exhausted some hundred years earlier. Initially when they appeared the Europeans were reluctant to buy as such colors had not been seen before and the Hungarian miners spread rumours that the stones were not genuine. However time and the sheer beauty of the opal eased concerns and Australian opal displaced Hungarian opal as the most famous and desired opal.The biggest buyers were the Germans and the advent of World War 1 caused a major decline as trading with Germany was halted and miners werecalled to fight overseas.
Discoveries inSouth Australia, Angaston were followed by Coober Pedy (1912), Andamooka (1930), and then by Mintabie.
You can find Australian opal at www.opalauctions.com
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