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White Opals

White Opals from Coober Pedy Australia.


Opals were first found in 1915 in Coober Pedy which is a hot, dry region in the middle of Australia’s vastness.

Opals from Coober Pedy are mostly called white opals but that doesn’t mean that they are all white.  The white color is simply the base color of the stone and through it, radiating our from this base will be a myriad of stunning bright colors.  Red, blues greens yellows and every possible mixture of theme.


It is different to the opals from the Lightning ridge area of NSW Australia which is called the black opal.  This simply has a black base rather than a white base.  Miners from Lightning Ridge like to tell you that their opal is the best opal in the world and miners from Coober Pedy like to tell you that their opal is the best in the world. So who is correct?  Well they both are because their opal is the best in the world and it doesn’t matter which region it comes from.  But it is different looking opal from each region.


An opal enthusiast or seller or miner will instantly be able to tell you whether it is Coober Pedy white opal or Lightning Ridge black opal, and he or she will be able to tell you from a photo without even holding the stone.  Sometimes opals from the two regions will share properties so much that even an expert would not be able to tell you where it comes from without very close examination.


What is the difference between white opal and black opal?  To make it easy to understand just imagine that you had a piece of red glass that you could see through.  Lay it flat on a piece of white paper and then lay it flat on a sheet of jet black paper.  The color would look different wouldn’t it.  Some people would think that the red on black looked much nicer than the red on white and other people would disagree.  That’s the same as opal preferences.


Sometimes you will find opals with a white base from Lightning Ridge and sometimes opals that look similar to black opals will be found in Coober Pedy.  Is one generally better than the other?  Absolutely not.  It will depend on the quality of the stone itself and it won’t matter which region it comes from.




White opals come from Coober Pedy in Australia’s heart and black opals come from Lightning Ridge in the state of NSW in Australia.  Which opal is better black or white?  Read my opinion in this article.


Author Gary Hocking is an Australian manufacturing jeweler who specializes in opals and opal jewelry.  He has his own website  Feel free to copy and distribute this article as long as you leave the bio and live link to his website.


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