Category Archives: Opal

The Top Tucson Gems to See!

The annual Tucson Gem & Mineral show is quickly approaching and the team at Omi Gems is excited to share some of its unique offerings and insights ahead of this premier event!

Since the 1970s, Tucson has become THE globally-recognized event for its scope and annual gathering of gem & mineral dealers, connoisseurs and enthusiasts. Multiple concurrent shows will be held throughout Tucson, bringing with them an assortment of goods to suite all tastes and price points. For those in search of fine colored gemstones, there is no better place to start your hunt than at the AGTA GemFair. Omi Gems is just one of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA)’s 300+ exhibitors that will be on display this February. There is always a palpable buzz surrounding this show as a place to mingle with far-flung industry friends and to share insights from the past year. Shopping at the AGTA GemFair can provide a sense of security for purchasers, as AGTA Members agree to the disclosure of all gemstone enhancements and abide by a strict code of ethics to ensure and promote the highest standards across the industry in the United States.

Learn more about the AGTA GemFair in this video!

This show culminates with the AGTA Spectrum awards on Saturday night, where colored gem dealers and jewelry designers come together to celebrate and honor winning colored-stones and designs across multiple categories. For a colored stone designer or dealer, there are few accolades more prestigious than an AGTA Spectrum award, as designs are judged by an annually changing collection of fellow industry experts and leaders.
If you attend we would love to celebrate our five 2018 Spectrum Awards with you!

This year Omi Privé is exhibiting an assortment of some of the finest colored gemstones from across the world, including true classics such as ruby, emerald and sapphire but also collector’s stones such as alexandrite and padparadscha sapphire. Designs and loose stones are also comprised of some more rare and unique stones such as star sapphire, moonstone, grandidierite, cobalt spinel, demantoid garnets and cat’s eye alexandrite.  We encourage all attendees to wander and observe the offerings that only Tucson can provide, but be sure to stop by booth 401 at the AGTA GemFair to say hello and browse!

Blue Spinel


Purple Spinel
Purple Sapphire
Malayan Garnet
Burmese SpinelBlue Zircon

Black Opal

Posted in Gemstones, Jewelry, Omi Gems, Opal, Sapphire | Comments Off on The Top Tucson Gems to See!
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Celebrating Opals- A Colorful History

Pliny the Elder, wrote in his Natural History (Naturalis historia) during the first century A.D., “There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald – all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendor rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulphur or of fire quickened by oil.”

Pliny was describing the illustrious beauty of one of the world’s most special gemstones: opal. The ancient Romans were first introduced to opals mined in Eastern Europe, likely modern day Hungary. Opals symbolized love and hope in ancient times and many cultures believed the stone had supernatural properties. But the opals Pliny lauded would not likely have compared to the renowned deposits found in Lightning Ridge. This remote region in New South Wales, Australia is recognized as the premier location for the world’s finest black opals.

Map of New South Wales, Australia, location of Lightning Ridge opal deposits.

Opals are composed of mainly non-crystalline silica that forms over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. Water travels through the rock into crevices and through natural processes, the silica are tightly compressed and stacked in a spherical arrangement that harden over time to form opal. This process can also opalise fossils, a find for which Lightning Ridge is also well known.

Opals are typically classified by their background color – also called bodycolor. With a darker bodycolor the flashes of color or ‘play of color’ tends to stand out more dramatically and attractively against a darker background. Opal was first discovered in Lightning Ridge in the late 1880s, and although mining continued through the beginning of the 20th century, larger scale opal production didn’t occur until the late 1950s driven by increasing demand and the introduction of more modern mining technology. Opal mining in Lightning Ridge is usually done underground and extracted from the clay-rich layers in the earth. Layered above by sandstone, opals mined in the clay-rich layer are typically found around 30 meters below the surface.

Australia mines about 90-95% of the world’s opals, but it is the rare black opal of Lightning Ridge that command top prices comparative to other opals. Black opal is typically found in nobs or in the less common, seams.  Seam opals can be very thin; therefore it is common to find these opals backed by host rock or ‘opal-matrix’ to strengthen the gem.

Tullie Cornthwaite Wollaston, born in South Australia in 1863, is the man credited with introducing Australian opals to the rest of the world. Queen Victoria was an avid admirer of the gemstone and wore them throughout her reign. As the style-setting reigning monarch, and with her court viewed as the model for fashion around the world, the demand for the newly discovered Australian opals increased.

Queen Victoria was an avid collector of opal.

Wollaston, a long admirer and surveyor of gemstones, along with his companion and surveyor, Herbert Butterfield, set forth from Adelaide, Australia in November 1888 hearing rumors of a new opal find. After an arduous journey, they arrived in Queensland, inspected the opal strike, bought specimens and obtained land leases. There were virtually no established opal fields in Australia at the time, although some local miners were stockpiling this unique gemstone as they encountered it; to speak to Wollaston’s gamble, this region was part of some of Australia’s harshest country, noted for its lack of water and incredibly unforgiving summers. When Wollaston described his travels in his book, he described this land as ‘the never never.’

Upon his arrival, dealers in London were suspicious of these new superior opals. He continued pursuing opal sources in Queensland and New South Wales in the ensuing years. In the early 1900s, his agent, Edmund Francis Murphy, began buying opals for him from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, abandoning the now declining White Cliffs opal fields. These were some of the first specimens of ‘black opal’ brought to the world market during the later 1900s.  Believing strongly in the beauty and value of these opals, Wollaston traveled to London and America, trying to establish the market and convince jewelers and the public of the superiority of black opals. It took many years for the public to accept this previously unseen variety of opal, but opal lover’s appreciate Wollaston’s perseverance and today concur that the world’s most valuable and beautiful opals are found in Lightning Ridge.

Call us at 877.OMI.GEMS to inquire on our collection of fine Lightning Ridge black opals which display brilliant play-of-color.



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Black Opal Opulence

The magical, fiery birthstone for October is opal and we’re thrilled to present some of our finest black opals to date. Few things are as remarkable as the highly prized Australian black opal. The Lightning Ridge area of New South Wales produces a very finite supply of this phenomenal stone. Enjoy the wondrous play-of-color this October from Omi Gems!


Lot No: OP1035
Oval Black Opal
4.94 carats
14.90 x 12.80 mm

Call us at 877.OMI.GEMS or email for pricing.


Lot No: OP1004
Oval Black Opal
9.96 carats
19.92 x 12.25 mm

Call us at 877.OMI.GEMS or email for pricing.


Lot No: OP1012
Oval Black Opal
6.47 carats
17.50 x 13.00 mm

Call us at 877.OMI.GEMS or email for pricing.

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