New Opal Grading System and What it Means

Many of you might be aware that Opal Horizon, a Brisbane-based Opal mining & wholesaling company have launched a campaign to bring in a “globally quantifiable” grading system for Australia’s national gem stone the Opal. The idea is to bring a standard grading system across the Opal industry so that Opal dealers can capitalise to the full potential on their worth. The new grading system being proposed by Opal Horizon is based on judging three aspects of each Opal:

  1. Category – the presence & degree of host rock
  2. Colour – Opal face, body tome, play of colour, brightness, pattern, directionality & special attributes
  3. Cut – finish & polish, ease of setting, symmetry/balance & exclusion of defects

These three aspects, referred to as the 3 C’s, are each graded on a 100 point scale then added together to give the Opal a final mark out of 300. The final score is then used to classify the Opal in the following categories:

  • Score < 90: Promotional Opal – Opals that are low quality with not much appeal. They are subdued with variable colour.
  • Score 90-179: Commercial Opal – These are Opals of moderate quality & appeal. The colours are subdued to bright & also have a variable colour range.
  • Score 180-239: Gem Opal - Very good quality Opals with a good visual appeal. The colours are a bright variable range.
  • Score 240 – 284: Fine Gem Opal - Opals of high quality & high visual appeal. It will have bright to very bright colours and you will be able to see the full range of colours.
  • Score 285: 300: Exceptional Gem Opal – These are Opals of exceptional quality with a very high visual impact. Very bright colours with the full range on display.

You can read more about the proposed Opal grading system you can see Opal Horizon’s presentation & brochure

Opal Horizon say this will give Opal traders a solid foundation to determine the correct market value. While this sounds great in theory there are many questions raised concerning how it will be governed and there is still a lot of room for confusion. As you all Opal lovers know Opals are extremely unique and what one person loves another might consider less valuable. We here at Macs Opals believe that Opals are extremely personal items and that when buying an Opal it’s a journey to find one not based necessarily on price but one that you are happy with.

What are your thoughts, is this a fool proof system?

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