Tiffany and Dior reviving Aussie opals, but can Lightning Ridge and Coober Pedy maintain supply?

Australia’s rich red dirt is home to an array of resources, none more colourful than the country’s national gemstone, the opal, which is enjoying a renaissance as Europe’s top fashion houses compete to capture its beauty.

The opal, sometimes known the “mystery stone”, has become a desirable feature in high-end jewellery, according to opal wholesaler Chris Price. Diamonds once dominated the high end of the market, he says, but that focus has shifted and people are seeking colour.

“For people who can have everything, (with opals) they can have something no one can duplicate … opals are personal. It is nice to have something that no one else has,” Price says. “Each stone, whether you are talking about a $20 stone or one of value, is different. Opals don’t come back on the estate market, they stay in families and they are not resold. It’s a real sense of personal treasure.”

Damien Cody, director at Cody Opal, says the French fashion houses have rekindled their love affair with the opal. “It has also triggered demand throughout the world, because if the big fashion houses are using opal it drives demand elsewhere,” he says.

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