Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns
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ethiopian opals grading and patternsEthiopian opal is one of the most diverse and spectacular types of opals on the market today. Since this type of opal is new, there is no industry accepted way to grade this type of opal like there is with the black opal. Black opal is grading in terms of blackness, the brightness of the colour and the pattern.

Similarly, Ethiopian opal is also graded on pattern and brightness, but the body tone of the stone does not play a huge role in determining the final value.

There are many unique patterns to Ethiopian Opals and on Opal Auctions the descriptions have to be accurate. One of the most popular patterns in Ethiopian opals is a naturally formed potch line with web inclusions known as honey comb pattern. This pattern is very rare in any other type of opals. These honeycomb shapes are also known on occasions to have brighter or different colour than the surrounding opal, this is also a rare occurrence in nature.

Color And Brightness In Ethiopian Welo Opal

This refers to the fire within the opal. The translucent internal fire of these Ethiopian opals have properties that make the fire look 3D. This 3 dimensional colour aspect is rare in most opals. It looks like fire has been captured within the opal.

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Many Australian black opals have hidden colour spectrum patterns deep within the opal so a blue opal can have hidden translucent colour bars with violet or purple hues that cannot be directly seen by the naked eye. Ethiopian opals have vivid translucent colour bars and patterns that are strikingly bright and are visible with the naked eye.

Ethiopian Opals are valued based on their bright flashes of fire colour. The brighter and more intense the color, the higher the price of the opal. Stones with red flashes are rarer than the other colors while the green and blue flashes are more common.

Treated Ethiopian Black Opal

I was at the recent Bangkok gem show where I saw large amounts of Ethiopian black opal being sold with gem reports saying its natural. New findings have shown that most, if not all, of the “black” Ethiopian opal now seen in the market is not what it appears to be! It is either treated by innovative new “smoking” techniques to obtain it’s black-opal appearance. As this opal is hydrophane it seems to respond to smoking well. Smoking techniques are not new where opal is concerned, but what is now being used on the Ethiopian opal introduces a new twist to the old smoking method, which is why the treatment was missed by respected gem-testing laboratories.

Smoked Ethiopian Opal

The old technique was used on low quality opal, such as Mexican hydrophane material, to darken the colour of the base material, which causes — by contrast — a more fiery play of colour. It was done simply by wrapping the opal tightly in brown paper, placing it in a covered container, heating over medium heat until the paper is completely charred, then cooling and washing it. The result was a much prettier opal!

The other treatment that is common with Ethiopian Opal is altering the body color of the stone with dye. Some stones can be find to have a bright pnk or purple body color which has been artificially placed into the stone.

Dyed Ethiopian Opal

These are the only known treatment so far for Ethiopian opal and it greatly reduces the price of the stone. On Opal Auctions any treatments must be clearly stated. If you have any doubts remember to use our opal Sheriff service to get a second opinion.

The only other thing to be aware of is the fake Ethiopian opal that is on the market today. Read our article on detecting fake opals to help arm yourself with the knowledge needed to correctly identify fake Ethiopian opals.

Pattern In Ethiopian Opal

Ethiopian Opal has a wide range of beautiful patterns and shapes from oval to free-form. Black Opals from Australia are well documented with unique patterns from Mackerel to Harlequin. Similar names have been adopted to describe Ethiopian Opals. The most highly sought after and expensive pattern is the honey comb pattern.

Broad Pattern Crystal

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Patchwork Rolling Flash

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Patchwork Honeycomb

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Hexagon Honeycomb or Fish Scale

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Pin Fire Crystal

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Neon Flash Pattern

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Welo Broad Flash

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Rainbow Pattern

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Broad Patchwork

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Multi Chaff Fireworks

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Broad Flash Fire

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Floral Eyes Pattern

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Fire Cloud

Ethiopian Opals Grading And Patterns

Welo Patchwork Harlequin Pattern

Harlequin is regarded as the rarest pattern in the opal industry with Ethiopia having its own unique pattern-honeycomb pattern. Honey comb pattern is the most sort after pattern on cabochon Ethiopian opal. Many opal miners will never find one of these patterns in their lifetime of work.

True harlequin pattern is a mosaic broad pattern, angular close set of colours. Floral patterns are sometimes called floral harlequin but Welo Floral or Welo patchwork would be the correct naming for these gem Ethiopian floral pattern opals.

Ethiopian opal honeycomb patterns

Shop Ethiopian Opals


同樣, 埃塞俄比亞蛋白石也在圖案和亮度上進行分級,但是石頭的身體色調在確定最終價值方面並沒有發揮巨大作用。













這是迄今為止埃塞俄比亞蛋白石唯一已知的治療方法,它大大降低了石頭的價格。在Opal Auctions上,必須明確說明任何治療方法。 如果您有任何疑問,請記得使用我們的蛋白石警長服務獲得第二意見。
















Welo Broad Flash















Harlequin被認為是蛋白石行業中最稀有的圖案,埃塞俄比亞擁有自己獨特的圖案 - 蜂窩圖案。蜂蜜梳子圖案是凸圓形埃塞俄比亞蛋白石上的最後一種模式。許多蛋白石礦工在他們的一生工作中永遠不會找到這些模式中的一種。

真正的小丑圖案是馬賽克寬闊的圖案,角度緊密的顏色組。花卉圖案有時被稱為花卉丑角,但Welo Floral或Welo拼湊將成為這些寶石埃塞俄比亞花卉圖案蛋白石的正確命名。



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What I have seen at sites & at the gem shows is wholesale crystal (clear, or sometimes know as "jelly") is about $20-40 per carat for color & about $10. per for those with weaker & directional colors. Prices go up for darker base natural opal, with the larger stones commanding the most, of course. Multi-color, color saturated stones (especially with "3-D color & honeycomb characteristics) seem to bring the most, with commercial jewelry store dealers buying the $20-$40 per stones to set & sell with larger mark-ups in gold settings. (Same concept as with relatively inexpensive faceted colored stones).
Once in awhile I see "trunk sales" where a designer is hosted to a jewelry store that builds (creates) custom pieces with free-form, colorful Welo, or Boulder Opal, but rarely with the "high dollar" Australian Black Opal as it is just too expensive to be in the market place, except for the rich & famous. Just my two cents worth.  The trunk sales are attractive because the store does not have to buy & inventory, it just hosts the seller & takes a percentage of the sales that are concluded from the seller's trunk sale.

17th Jun 2020

In today’s market body tone is not as important as it was 3-5 years ago.
Today, Brightness and pattern are prime considerations.
Preference has been shown for unique pattern and than brightness and body tone last preference.
Ethiopian opals offer so good value in 10-20 carat category with good cabochon and full color direction
No other opal field can offer high domed cabochon opals with full direction of colors.
Unique patterns are in high demand from Honeycomb to snake pattern and no other gemstone has variety patterns as Ethiopian Opals

1st May 2020

In today's market, which body color is preferred?  I have seen Ethiopian Welo, Stayish and Shewa…clear, black and brown respectively.  Is there a preference?

29th Apr 2020

Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this seeming unknown stone.i have been fortunate to come in to possession of some nice Australia's hydraphane opal self prospected.most commonly know to come from Tintenbar.if you have any advise as to how to stabilise it so it can be worked that would be much appreciated.
Kind regards

7th Jun 2019

Very helpful!!  Wow, this is an easy, straightforward test that anyone can do, and it looks like a foolproof way to discern between Australian and Ethiopian opals.  Both are absolutely beautiful, but it's nice to know where they come from, and also good to be sure that the opals you buy are represented accurately.

20th Jan 2018

Great Article. Very Insightful :)

10th Jan 2018

I find it so sad the the Ethiopian Welo opal rough is so expensive compared to the low prices beautiful finished stones are getting.

26th Jul 2017

Thank you for the insight!

5th Apr 2017

Great article! Thank you for sharing such valuable wisdom and knowledge!
Denise Shafer

8th Mar 2017

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