What is black opal worth? The body tone myth exposed

Are all black opals created equal? What is black opal worth? Are the darkest black opals worth more? Should I only buy N1 black opals?

We get a lot of questions about black opal, understandably! But there is one common misconception when it comes to buying black opal and that has to do with the body tone scale.

A lot of people have been asking us for black opal that is N1 on the body tone and brightness scale thinking that this is the best they can buy. As Justin explains in today’s video, the body tone of black opal is not the most important factor in its value.

In fact, the value is not in the darkness of the stone as long as it sits in the black opal window. An N1 or N4 could be worth the same amount of money depending on the opals play of color, brightness, cut, and pattern.

In this video, Justin goes through some examples of N1 and N4 black opals to show you where the real value of black opal lies.

So, what makes a black opal more valuable?

Let’s start by taking two opals that are both N1 on the body tone scale. Both of these gems are classed as the darkest black opal that you can have. Now, let’s dive in to which one is actually the more valuable opal.

The first opal has a body tone of N1, a brightness of B4, and gorgeous flagstone pattern. What’s working against this opal? It’s fairly flat without the cabochon that some opals can have.

The second opal has the same body tone of N1, a nice cabochon, and a beautiful pinfire pattern. Although this opal is also the darkest black opal you can find, it isn’t very bright. This gem has a brightness of B2 which brings down its value in comparison to the first gem. This is a great stone for many reasons but the lack of brightness leads to a lower price per carat.

As you can see, brightness is a better indicator of the value of opal than its body tone scale. Justin takes you through some more examples to show you how play of color, pattern, and the cut make a black opal more valuable, not its body tone. You can learn more about play of color and patterns on our YouTube channel.

Today’s lesson: the top of the body tone scale does not mean the top of the black opals.

Opal only needs to sit in the black opal window of body tone to be valued as black opal. After that, there are so many more important factors that come in to play.

We hope this video clears up some of the questions we get around black opals. Let us know what you think in the comments!

2 thoughts on “What is black opal worth? The body tone myth exposed”

  1. Interesting blog post! I’ve never heard of the “body tone myth” before, but it makes sense. I’m definitely going to be more careful when buying black opal in the future.


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