Australian Opal is without doubt, the most sought after precious opal in the world today. Australian opal is mined at Andamooka, Coober Pedy, Lightning Ridge, Mintabie, Lambina and numerous other smaller areas in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
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All Australian opal is of sedimentary formation and occurred when the inland sea that covered a large area of mainland Australia receded and then began to dry, over 150 million years ago. Silica rich waters found their way into faults and cracks and traveled deep within the earth, where they slowly set about evolving into the most beautiful gemstones in the world.
It is estimated that it took around 5 million years for an Australian opal to form one centimeter thick. Fossil shells and bones from as early as 120 million years ago have been replaced with opal and these fossils are very sought after by museums and collectors alike.
Precious opal occurs in very few locations around the world due to the very special and precise series of climactic and geological phenomena that must occur simultaneously for in order for opal to form. These precise conditions did occur across parts of Australia many millions of years ago with the end result being the beautiful Australian opal we see today.