Australia’s national gemstone is opal, a stone celebrated throughout the world for its brilliant colours.
Known to Indigenous people as the ‘fire of the desert’, it’s a powerful symbol of Australia’s arid outback, where geological conditions are thought to favour to their mysterious formation.
Black opal, the highest quality precious opal, is only found in Australia. White opal, crystal opal, fire opal and boulder opal are also found in Australia, which produces over 90 per cent of the world’s precious opals.
These remarkable stones comprise microscopic spheres of silica. As the light passes through them it is diffracted into the colours of the spectrum, creating brilliant internal colour flashes – known as the ‘play of colour’.
The best opals share exulted company with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls as the world’s most desirable precious gemstones.
Opal in coins
In recognition of opal as one of Australia’s most sought-after natural treasures, The Perth Mint is delighted to offer innovative collectable coins incorporating polished flakes of pure Australian opal.
This month we’ve added a new offering in the form of the Australian Opal – Lunar Rooster 2017 1oz Silver Proof Coin – a beautiful release which pays homage to the 10th animal of the ancient lunar calendar in a way that is as unique as the Australian gemstone it contains.
The follow-up to last year’s Australian Opal – Lunar Monkey (sold out), this dramatic coin is limited to a worldwide mintage of just 5,000. Housed in presentation packaging, each display case incorporates a small light source to help illuminate the colours of the coin’s opal inset.