Ethiopian Opal, also known as 'Welo Opal' or 'Wollo Opal,' is a relatively new gem, as it was just discovered in 2008 at the Stayish mine, despite being around for centuries.
The Welo Opal was discovered in 1994 at Yita ridge. Mezzezo in the Shewa province is sometimes mistaken with an earlier discovery of Ethiopian Opal in 1994 at Yita ridge and Mezzezo in the Shewa province, although the two are drastically different. Welo Opals are a stable stone that is perfect for usage in quality. Ethiopian Opal jewellery does not shatter or craze, unlike Yita ridge Ethiopian Opals, considered brittle. The GIA has tested Ethiopian Welo Opals extensively, subjecting them to water and extreme heat, and decided they are a stable gem unlikely to break under extreme conditions.
These Ethiopian Welo Opals are a type of hydrophane Opal, which means they absorb water and change colour from opaque to clear as the water content varies. Ethiopian Opals can contain up to 20% water. Hydrophane Opals are formed by volcanic activity, so if you're searching for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewellery, one made with Opal from an active volcano is difficult to beat!
Ethiopian Opal has no industry-wide acknowledged grading standard because it is a relatively "new" gem. Unlike other Opals, Ethiopian Opal's body tone or shade does not usually affect its grading or value.
Ethiopian Opal Colors:
In their natural condition, Ethiopian Welo Opals come in a transparent to white tone and a transparent to yellow, tan, or orange tone. These high-quality Opals can show vivid colour flashes in every colour of the rainbow and from every angle (known as 'precious Opal'), or fewer or no colour flashes (known as 'common Opal') if they are of inferior quality. Furthermore, Ethiopian Opals with excellent colour can display a single hue, multiple colours, or every colour of the rainbow, so whether you desire Ethiopian Opal jewellery in a single primary colour or the perfect 'compliments everything' piece of jewellery, Ethiopian Opal jewellery is ideal!
The Color of Ethiopian Opal
Ethiopian Opals can also be found in a natural opaque tan tint with vivid rainbow colour flashes over the surface. Tan Opals, sometimes known as Chocolate Opals, are extremely rare Opals.
Although black Ethiopian Opal can be found naturally, many of the black Ethiopian Opals used in jewellery are smoke-treated clear Opals. When tests, such as purposefully cracking the Opal open, the hue of genuine black Ethiopian Opal is usually a solid dark colour that remains consistent throughout the Opal.
Ethiopian Opals have recently been available in various colours, including black, blue, turquoise, green, and even pink. These lovely hues of Ethiopian Opal have been colour enhanced, or smoke treated, so they aren't natural, but they're just as beautiful and stable as untreated Ethiopian Opal. Ethiopian Opals with colour enhancements are still authentic Opals.
Colour flashes in Ethiopian Opals can be seen on the gem's surface, inside the gem, or a combination of both. They can seem like a big flash of colour, a series of smaller moments, or tiny pinprick sized flashes of colour (known as 'pinfire' Opal).
How do you know if Ethiopian Opal is authentic?
Artificial or fraudulent Ethiopian Opals are frequently confused with genuine Ethiopian Opals. This is because this form of Opal is extremely light compared to other gems. Natural Ethiopian Opals also have a waxy, plastic-like surface, and the colours displayed in most of these Opals are so brilliant that it's hard to believe they're real. Compared to other Opal kinds, such as Australian Opal, Ethiopian Opal jewellery is inexpensive, leading many people to conclude that Opal is fake. Even though Ethiopian Opal is more stable and ideal for use in jewellery than other Opal kinds, there are some precautions you can take to keep your Opal jewellery in good condition.
How to care?
If you want to clean your Opal jewellery, avoid using any chemicals and instead use warm water and a non-abrasive cloth or sponge. If at all possible, avoid using too much water and instead use a wet cloth.
Don't worry if your Ethiopian Opal gets wet. The colour and transparency will alter temporarily, but they will return to their original colour as it dries over a few days.
Avoid humidity extremes, especially if you live in a desert environment with little humidity. Instead, store your Ethiopian Opal jewellery in a tiny zip lock bag with a damp cotton ball to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out. Just let us know if you'd prefer a bag and cotton ball with your order.
Don't worry if you accidentally catch your Ethiopian Opal jewellery on something or drop it because it is more stable than other Opal varieties. For example, it can withstand a drop from 4 feet onto a concrete floor without damage.