Australian Black Opal

Australian Black Opal rough is extremely rare and mining has greatly decreased in the last decade, so imagine our surprise when 45 ounces of full color rough landed on Frank’s desk this September. As a company we haven’t seen material like it for 30 years and personally I have never seen anything like it! The story of how this opal rough made it all the way to Idaho is so fortuitous it deserves to be told, so here it goes!

It starts near Portland, OR earlier this year at an estate sale. At the end of an estate sale a crew comes in, cleans and donates all the remaining items. Customarily the crew is allowed to take items going to be donated or trashed if they have any interest. At this point we meet our hero, we will call him Tom, and Tom was cleaning out this estate sale and noticed an unassuming bag of rocks. He decided they looked interesting enough and loaded them into his truck and headed home. Later that night, sitting at his dining room table, Tom and his wife were assessing his discovery. They both noticed blue/green flashes of light and thought they had found something special, at this point they decided a trip to their local jewelry store was needed.

Still unaware of what he had discovered Tom loaded his bag of rocks into the Jewelers and sat down. The Jeweler informed him that he had a large bag of opal rough and from what he could tell black opal rough. Unfamiliar with rough opal pricing and not needing 45 ounces of opal the Jeweler then called us.

After a brief explanatory call from our Jeweler friend we received a call from Tom. Tom agreed to drive all the way from Portland to Pocatello in hopes of discovering what his find was worth. After all, with nothing invested into the bag of rocks Tom had nothing to lose. Frank and Jonathan sat with Tom for hours and poured over piece after piece, dipping them in water to bring the fire out of the unpolished stones. Beyond all expectations this black opal rough was a remarkable find and at the end of the day Tom was driving back to Seattle with a sizable check, he compared it to winning the lottery, and Parlé was left with 45 ounces of extremely rare Australian black opal rough.

A few months later, after several meetings with our cutters, Parlé is the proud owner of over 1200 cts of fine black opal. Frank believes this material to be at least 30 years old and the property of an old opal dealer native to the Oregon area that we lost touch with over 20 years ago. With a little luck Tom managed to save this natural treasure from a landfill, which is where it was headed if he hadn’t picked it up that day.

So I think I’ll be headed out to all the estate sales this weekend, never know what you will find!



  1. That was a truly awesome tail. Congradulations frank on what was a gift from God

  2. Was the jeweler in IJO? Wonder if they went on the trip to Lightning Ridge to recognize black opal rough. Congratulations Frank looking forward to viewing the stones at the next show if there are any left.

  3. So how much is it per carat and what sizes was the material cut into?

    Also I know you are at IJO but can you call me about 3 carat Oval blue sapphires asap.John

  4. Oh and pardon me for being so crazy. It IS a great story and very exciting for you .Congratulations.