Vintage Opal Rings and How to Choose Them

Opal rings make beautiful gifts – for friends, family, or just for yourself. Whether you are looking for a beautiful piece, a gift for a special birthday or anniversary, or a striking engagement ring, vintage opal rings are perfect.

Our National Gemstone

Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, and we account for 95-97% of the world's supply of opal. Opals are woven into the ancient Dreamtime stories of Australian Indigenous nations and they are an iconic part of our cultural and natural heritage. Boulder opal forms when high rainfall dissolves silica that seeps into cracks and crevices in ironstone. As the water evaporates, the silica hardens into unique formations of tiny spheres of the same shape and size.

Different Types of Opal

Every opal is unique, but they fall into a handful of broad categories that are used to sort and price them for sale.

Black Opal

Black or dark opals are the rarest and most valuable types. They come mainly from the area around Lightning Ridge. These opals can be crystal or opaque and very occasionally, black or dark opals can exhibit bright flashes of red.

Light Opals

Natural opals, also known as light opals, have a base tone ranging from colourless to medium grey.

Light opals make up the bulk of precious opals and come primarily from Coober Pedy and Mintabie in South Australia.

Boulder Opals

Boulder is a variety of precious opal that has the host rock forming naturally as part of the gem. Often just a thin vein of precious opal is present. These opals mainly occur in specific locations over a wide area of Western Queensland.

How Opals Are Priced

The price of an opal is determined by its uniqueness of colour and form. The range of prices is wide and is based on the piece, not the carat size. Opals lend themselves well to making one-of-a-kind artistic pieces of jewellery.

Choosing Your Vintage Opal Ring

Make sure you get a chance to properly inspect any pieces before purchasing, especially if you are buying jewellery online. The following factors will affect not only the price of the piece but its overall aesthetic value:

  • Opal type: as discussed above, different types of opals have distinct looks and different values.
  • Opal colour: make sure you choose a colour you or the recipient will enjoy. Colour also affects price – ‘fire’ colours will add price, especially red, yellow, green, and blue.
  • Opal size: do you want a chunky opal feature or something more subtle? Larger opals are, of course, more expensive, all else being equal.
  • Opal brilliance: The degree of brightness is of supreme importance. The more vibrant the colours in an opal, the greater its value. This is good news if you prefer a more ‘matte’ look to your opal – you’ll save money and get what you want.

As Brisbane’s luxury vintage dealer, Harrington and Co stocks a range of beautiful opals and other vintage jewellery. Explore our range online and find the perfect gift or indulgence. For advice or inspiration, get in touch with our team.

Call 07 3891 3880 or email