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Australian Opal Beads

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6mm Tan Australian Opal Plain Heishi Beads 16 inch 200 pieces - The Bead Traders
Australian Opal Faceted Rondelles 16 Inch 148 Beads - The Bead Traders
4mm Australian Opal Hand Cut Faceted Rondelle Beads 12 inch 150 pieces - The Bead Traders
19x6mm-30x10mm Gold Leafed Australian Opal Natural Crystal Focal Pendant 1 Piece - The Bead Traders
Australian Opal Plain Nugget Beads 17 inch 50 pieces - The Bead Traders
Australian Opal Plain Nugget Beads 17 inch 28 pieces - The Bead Traders
6mm Australian Opal Faceted Heshi Beads 16 inch 200 pieces - The Bead Traders
6x5x3-13x5x3mm Australian Opal center drilled Natural Crystal Chip Beads 7.5 inch 64 beads - The Bead Traders
Multi Opal Plain Pears 7.5 inch 60 beads - The Bead Traders
Australian Boulder Opal Tumbled Nugget Top Drilled Beads 7 inch 15 pcs - The Bead Traders

Australian Opal Beads are some of the most beautiful and unusual gemstones in the world. Fine opals display what’s called a “play of color,” a phenomenon where a rainbow of different colors flash inside the stone. Most of the world’s opals are found in Australia. Because we buy beads in volume, we always offer affordable beads and beading supplies at the Bead Traders.

Play of Color

Opals are famous for their play of color, an effect that is caused by the internal structure of Opal beads. Unlike quartz, opal is not a crystal and is considered a mineraloid, a mineral-like substance without a crystal structure. Opals are made up of silica and water, and it is the high water content--up to 20% in some stones--that contributes to opal’s colorful show. Silica spheres inside the amorphous stone catch the light and reflect it back. The spheres are arranged in a lattice structure and the distance between the spheres determines what colors will be present in the stone. The brightness of the fire is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the brightest.

Varieties of Opals

Black opals are the rarest and most precious of the Australian opal beads, with black stones with red flashes being the most sought after. White or light opals with green, blue and orange or yellow fire are more common. Sometimes thinner, lower quality opals are combined with another material such as onyx or glass to create a doublet or triplet opal. While these combinations can be very pretty, they are not as valuable as pure opals.

Cabochons

Although Australian opal beads are available in a range of shapes and sizes, most opals are cut and polished into cabochons, which are large, single, rounded stones used to decorate items such as statues, sword hilts, boxes and chalices. Opals have a hardness value of 5.5 - 6 on Moh’s Scale and are considered fragile, so they need to be set in a protective setting.

Down Under

Most of the world’s precious opals come from Australia, and most of those are mined in the Coober Pedy region. The world’s largest opal, called "Olympic Australis," was found in this area in 1956. Olympic Australis is almost a foot wide and weighs 17,000 carats. Although 90% of the world’s opals have been found in Australia, they do occur in other regions, and NASA reported in 2008 that opals have been found on Mars.

Opals in History

The name ‘opal’ come from the Roman word ‘opalus,’ which is believed to have come from the Sanskrit word ‘upala’. The Romans valued opals above all other gemstones, and they had a good reputation until the 19th century when Sir Walter Scott used an opal talisman with supernatural powers in one of his novels. Their luck changed in the early 20th century when opal was designated as the birthstone for the month of October.

Purchasing Opals

The Australian opal beads available at the Bead Traders are covered by our Three-Part Value Pledge of value, quality and authenticity. The beads we sell are the best quality available at the best price we can offer, and if we need to make a substitution, we always send you beads of higher quality rather than lower. When you are looking to put a little color in your life, try Australian opal beads from the Bead Traders.

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