I don’t consider myself an opal expert by a long shot, but I have
been buying, selling and cutting them for a number of years. What
Don is saying here is absolutely true; a working knowledge of the
different types of bodycolor, pattern of play-of-color, brightness,
clarity or freedom from inclusion and a host of other
characteristics is necessary to be able to identify and evaluate
precious opal. One of the problems with appraising opal jewelry is
that the varieties of this “Queen of Gemstones” is available in a
vast number of varieties, making it difficult for the gem trade in
general to agree on a system of valuation. Don touches on some of
the more widely known varieties, but there are so many more. How
many more? The mind boggles! Many people can’t even agree on what
qualifies as a black opal.
Fortunately, there is what I would refer to as a “primer” that can
help a person better understand how much they can expect to pay for
certain types of opal. A well-known book by Paul B. Downing, PhD,
titled Opal Identification and Value has recently been reprinted.
There is some small amount of argument about the merits of this
system of valuing opal, but there are circumstances that also shore
it up nicely. The main one being that The Guide uses it as a
reference for opal values. The other is that the book approaches
most opal types, gives a systematic method for evaluating every
characteristic of precious opal in such a way as to afford a
practical methodology for those who use it. This book will not make
you an opal expert, but it will definitely enable you to make
intelligent, informed decisions about opal values.
My advice....don't do it. If, when in Australia, you see a
stone YOU like, and if the price SEEMS reasonable...buy it. But
don't expect to make a killing when you return to the States.
More good advice there. And what Kevin said applies, as well. If you
make the trek overseas to ANY country looking for “deals”, without
expertise, you may just as well stick to buying at a large show,
such as Tucson. You’re not likely to find any special deals in the
cities of Australia, and the mining towns are generally so far away
from the cities that it requires a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, plenty of
extra tires, lots of water and infinite patience just to make the
trip out. And when you get there, I understand that the people are
very nice and quite accommodating, but I can’t help but imagine
they’d be giving me any “special deals” just because I’m another
Yank who deigned to make the trip.
So, when you go, bring every bit of knowledge you can and look for
what appeals to YOU. if it seems like a good deal to YOU, it
probably is. Part of the knowledge you need to bring is; how much
would this opal sell for in my town? On eBay? On this web site? That
one? Can I make a profit on it in MY business? That will be your
James S. Duncan, G.G.
Trying not to put too much for the “luminaries”, just
enough for the “newbies”, and hoping my punctuation, spelling,
grammar, and style are up to standard.