The boulder opal is one of the rarest and most valuable forms of opal found in Australia and makes up less than 5 % of opal mined. It is very sparsely distributed through South West Queensland. It is predicted that boulder opal is going to run out in the next 10 years because of the difficulty clearing Native Title and EPA requirements of rehabilitation. Native Title is the process of gaining agreement from the local Aboriginal tribes before mining takes place. This is an extremely difficult and time-consuming process. Added to this is the EPA requires that all mines need to be “back-filled” and trees planted when the mining is finished. It’s formed in the cracks and crevices of the ironstone boulders in gel form thousands of years ago and with the passing of centuries this jelly opal turned. Boulder opal occurs as a filling between the concentric layers or in random crevices in the ironstone. The boulder opal has a high loss factor when cutting, as we only yield 5% and has a rock waste factor of 95%. It is also the only opal suggested to run out within the next 5 to 10 years and with the value increasing by 15-25% each year. The boulder opal can certainly make a sound long term investment.
This process alone can send a miner bankrupt if he has not found “colour” in his “dig.” Added to this are the onerous paperwork requirements with “enough forms to sink a ship”; the average miner just does not have the motivation to comply with all of the government regulations. So, as a result, there are fewer and fewer miners on the field! Boulder Opal is formed in the cracks and crevices of the ironstone boulders in a gel form possibly as recently as hundreds of years ago, and with the passing of centuries, this jelly Opal turned solid and as you can see we are left with some beautiful Boulder Opal specimens. Boulder Opal occurs as a filling between the concentric layers or in random crevices in the ironstone. The cutting process is extremely difficult as the cutter must navigate the “hills and valleys” of the Boulder Opal surface. What we are left with is an incredibly unique and individual gemstone. The Boulder Opal has a high loss factor when cutting as we only yield 5% and has a rock waste factor of 95%. It is also the only Opal suggested to run out within the next 5 to 10 years and with the [suggested] value increasing by 15-25% each year, meaning that the Boulder Opal can certainly make a sound long-term investment.