Ethiopian Opal Vs Australian Opal

Author : the gems heaven | Published On : 23 Apr 2023


Opals are fascinating gemstones that have been highly valued throughout history due to their unique play of colours. They are made up of tiny silica spheres that diffract light, creating a spectrum of colours. Opals are found in different parts of the world, and the two most famous types are the Ethiopian opal and the Australian opal. This article will compare and contrast the two types of opals, discussing their characteristics, properties, and value.

Ethiopian Opal:

Ethiopian opals are a relatively new discovery, having been found in 2008 in the Welo province of Ethiopia. They are also known as Welo opals, and they are prized for their bright, flashy colours. Ethiopian opals are found in nodules, which are typically brown in colour and have a rough exterior. The opals inside these nodules are typically white or clear, with flashes of colour when viewed in the right light.


One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Ethiopian opals is their bright, fiery colours. These opals often have a base colour of white or clear, with flashes of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The colours in Ethiopian opals are often more vibrant than those in Australian opals, which can give them a more dramatic appearance. Ethiopian opals also have a unique pattern of colour play, known as "rolling flash." This means that the colours in the opal appear to roll or move as the stone is viewed from different angles.


Ethiopian opals have a hardness of 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, making them relatively soft compared to other gemstones. They are also quite porous, which can make them more susceptible to damage and cracking. Ethiopian opals are typically cut into cabochons, which means they are polished into a smooth, domed shape without facets. This helps to highlight the play of colour in the stone.


Ethiopian opals are highly valued for their bright, vibrant colours and unique rolling flash pattern. They are relatively rare compared to Australian opals, which can make them more expensive. However, the value of Ethiopian opals can vary depending on the quality of the stone, the size, and the intensity of the colour play.

Australian Opal:

Australian opals have been known and prized for centuries, and they are still considered some of the finest opals in the world. They are found in different parts of Australia, including Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy, and Mintabie. Australian opals are typically found in rough form, embedded in rocks or sandstone. They are often referred to by their location of origin, such as Lightning Ridge black opal or Coober Pedy white opal.


Australian opals come in a range of colours, from white or light-coloured opals with subtle colour play to dark, black opals with intense flashes of colour. The colours in Australian opals can range from red, orange, yellow, and green to blue and purple. The play of colour in Australian opals can be patterned, broad, or pinpoint. The pattern can be described as a patchwork or mosaic of colours, and the broad flash pattern covers a large area of the stone. Pinpoint flash refers to small flashes of colour that appear in a concentrated area of the stone.