Indigenous songlines run through Wollumbin, (the “Cloud Catcher”) which are the remains of an ancient volcano. This towering peak, also called Mt Warning, has created a unique geology. Layers of volcanic ash were laid down in the miocene and subsequently weathered to create one of the richest and lushest regions of Australia with a magical and indefinable quality. Byron Bay sits on its coast and as the most eastern point, the sun touches Australia here first. This supercharged land is important geologically as well as the home to the rarest piece of opal in the world.
The volcanic opal from Tintenbar
The volcanic region of eastern Australia created the most unusual of all Australian opals. Tintenbar crystal is volcanic and ethereal. The opal fire is soft and gem edges are water worn, indicating an alluvial nature. The pieces found are usually small under 10 carats. They are collectors oddities for the most part.
By contrast “The Eternal Flame” is so named for the fire which burns bright within. A large piece of black crystal opal it rivals the best of any found on the fields of Lightning Ridge. Stored dry in a vault, forgotten for over 40 years, the opal remains in pristine condition with no water wear. Opal experts including us have never seen anything like it and could not conceive of such an opal existing.
The Eternal Flame – The World’s Rarest Opal
A mammoth 568 carats “The Eternal Flame” is the largest and most significant black crystal ever found. What makes it even rarer is its origin. The volcanic soils of coastal New South Wales, Australia are replete with bands of obsidian and quartz but only small finds of volcanic opal – nothing like the great inland fields of Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy and Queensland.
Full of fire and wonder it glows like a prehistoric magic flame and harks back to a time when the earth was undergoing massive geological upheaval. The colour is unflinching and majestic, daring you to find an inferior angle. It holds a power that is bewitching. How could something as beautiful as this be created?
What do you think?
63 thoughts on “The world’s rarest opal: Part 1”
What a beautiful specimen! What is its dimensions?
The dimensions will be in the video on Friday Debbie!
Can only say … incredible! The biggest decision would have to be which parts of it to sacrifice if you ever wanted to cut it. Well worth a video of it?
A video is coming John – look in your inbox on Friday morning 🙂
This one won’t be cut ever. Hehe its too large and rare to cut
Fair enough. You’d have to keep a good lookout for a millionaire or an Indian maharajah …
Absolutely stunning!! Thank you for sharing, can’t wait to see video x
The video is just as special. Thanks for the comment Ally
Thanks for sharing this. Can’t wait to see more. At 563 carats it must be a wonder to hold in your hand. Looking forward to the video.
Hi Steve Yes when it was first placed in my hand it made me say a word I don’t usually say out aloud
It does not look as if it is from this world. Surely never to be cut ?
No it never will be cut as it is just soo rare being the largest gem to date from the region
Jason, do you have any Gear from this region Mate
No Jason sorry it has be closed to mining for quite a few years now and doesn’t look like it will be accessible again. We don’t even know if there is any left in the ground.
it’s already flabbergasting as a picture, I’m.. pretty jealous that you kept it in your hands, hahaha. can’t wait for the video!
Yes the gem is one like no other I have ever held
Oh my…. that is truly breathtaking.
Thank you it is and I think The Eternal Flame is a perfect name
Couldn’t agree more. I feel very envious, but also I couldn’t be happier for you. Thanks for sharing. I will be eagerly awaiting that video.
Holy moly! Justin this is amazing what a great find !
Thank you Patrick
Justin, what are the dimensions of the stone?
HI Dakota the dimensions will be in the email on Friday but lets say at 563 carats it is huge
Mind blowing, need I say more
In a dry safe for 40 years?… Speaks well for the stability of this individual piece… Ridgey
yes in a dry safe for 40 years. Amazing piece buddy
Wicked beautiful… omg Justin, I have held some huge black crystal welos that are stunning at over 300cts but to have an Aussie crystal that size and of such beauty is once in a life time!! Good on you mate. Who is the owner?
The owner will be revealed soon. Yes the color play is so bright it matches a lot of Lightning Ridge black opal
There is still a little pocket that is being mined, some floaters….Nothing like this piece though….. Ridgey
Can you tell us more about what is being mined at the moment. Ridgey? The spot where this stone was mined is no access anymore.
Speechless…. humble in the face of this Beauty of Nature…
Oh my………Unbelieveable ! Gorgeous !
I love being able to see the conchoidal fractures, and how naturally clean and clear it is. I’d be tempted to give it to a master knapper with nerves of steel to make the world’s finest knife blade.
Now, that’s a silly bit of input … who’d want to destroy an amazing piece of opal to make a knife out of something about halfway up the Mohs scale?
Nobody would be destroying anything.
As for who would want to use a blade made out of glass, well surgeons, for starters: https://obsidian-scalpel.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/surgeon-use-for-obsidian-scalpel-blades.html
Secondly, people that appreciate art: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/20a60f607aa8709cc58340004a44d1991f31193109738f5919e276ccfc62a9d1.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d43b1454bf2144d15e146fd1b05a11e3e1fc76bf51ff8b3f1b9ea7d09bb1af90.jpg
Thanks for your unsolicited opinion.
Makes about as much sense as tearing the Mona Lisa apart to get a thread to floss your teeth.
No, it’s more like taking the Mona Lisa off its frame to hang it as a lamp shade panel or the back of a jacket, neither of which I would do. I was only talking about knapping the already roughly chipped edges and polishing the body of the stone, but clearly there is some reverence for the “natural” fracture surface, much as many people appreciate rough diamonds despite their suboptimal optical properties.
I would never tear apart a priceless piece like this for a spearhead. Sorry great idea for semi precious pieces but not for something so valuable.
Yes this would loose a lot of weight and needs to be left as it is. There is no larger known piece from this area,
F A N T A S T I C ! We are all holding our breath until Friday.
Haha it will be worth it Harley
Hi Justin, Thanks for sharing.
Oh my gosh it is beautiful beyond words.
Thank you for sharing, wonder who has the other half?
haha mother nature has the other half
Wow…has it been worked like in flint knapping? That is an amazing piece!
No David it is totally natural as it came out of the ground
That is beyond amazing. I hope it never gets cut. Thanks for the info.
Is this similar to Ethiopian opal?
It is of similar structure bur from Australia
Yes Terry You are right. It is very similar in looks as an Ethiopian Wella opals. It could be one of them, I feel. It does not have any Australian black opal looks and characteristics.
Oh my … I lift my hat and bow and bow deeper and deeper.
And when I saw that it weights 568 ct … ( starting to breath deeper and deeper )
I read that you will post a video soon … can’t really wait.
Thanks for THE opal share of the year, no decade, no, century <3
Oh my word!!! I have NEVER seen anything so beautiful!!! I am at a loss for words!!!
Thanks Raven This is truly the single most amazing find I have seen in my life time. Thanks for the comment 🙂
Wow!! Absolutely stunning piece!! Thank you so much for sharing xx
Perhaps this is the same crystal black opal Freyja’s Brisingamen Fire necklace was made from?
Has it been given a value, currency wise?
Its hard to give it a value but I would imagine somewhere around the half a million
It is in the Smithsonian museum without a price or value but I would say around the half a million USD
Hi, really pretty
Does it fluorescent? Volcanic ones are not supposed to.
Hi Sam That is a good question I don’t know if it does. I doubt it would but I will never know now since its not in my hands anymore
Thanks for answering, how convenient. Now we will never know. 😆
Love your work