Home Knowledges Opal vs. Tourmaline: Which is More Expensive?

Opal vs. Tourmaline: Which is More Expensive?

by Madonna

The world of gemstones is a mesmerizing one, where each stone carries its unique charm, beauty, and of course, price tag. Opal and tourmaline, two enchanting gemstones, have long captured the hearts of gem enthusiasts and collectors alike. But when it comes to price, which gemstone takes the crown as the more expensive one? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of opals and tourmalines, comparing their rarity, market demand, and characteristics to determine which of these splendid gems holds the title of the more costly treasure. Join us on this exploration of opal vs. tourmaline, the battle of beauty and worth.

Opals: Nature’s Kaleidoscope

Opals are often described as nature’s kaleidoscope due to their play of colors, known as “opalescence.” These gemstones can display a dazzling array of colors, including blues, greens, reds, and more, all captured within their mesmerizing and iridescent depths. The optical phenomenon, also called “opalescence,” results from the scattering of light by microscopic spheres or voids within the stone.


Opals are divided into two primary categories: precious opals and common opals. Precious opals, which exhibit the captivating play of colors, are highly sought after for their visual appeal. They can be further categorized by the type of play-of-color they display, such as harlequin, pinfire, or rolling flash opals.


See Also: Opal and Tourmaline: Which Is the October Birthstone?


Tourmalines: The Gemstone of Many Colors

Tourmaline, often referred to as the “rainbow gem,” is celebrated for its extensive range of colors. In fact, tourmaline is one of the few gemstones that comes in a rainbow of hues, making it a favorite among gem enthusiasts. From vibrant pink to deep green, fiery red, electric blue, and even bi-colored or tri-colored varieties, tourmalines are a true testament to the diversity of nature’s palette.

The appeal of tourmaline goes beyond its captivating colors. These gemstones are known for their exceptional transparency, brilliance, and durability, making them highly desirable for use in jewelry.

Comparing Rarity: Opal vs. Tourmaline

One of the key factors influencing the cost of a gemstone is its rarity. Rarity can be determined by the abundance or scarcity of the gem in nature. In the case of opals and tourmalines, let’s explore their rarity to gain insights into their relative costs.

1. Opal Rarity

Opals are considered semi-precious gemstones, and while they might not hold the same status as diamonds or emeralds, some opals can be quite rare. Precious opals, which exhibit the captivating play of colors, are considered more valuable than common opals, which lack this characteristic.

The rarity of opals stems from the specific conditions required for their formation. Opals are typically found in sedimentary rock formations, especially in Australia, which is known for its opal mines, particularly the famous Lightning Ridge and Coober Pedy. The formation of opals requires the presence of water, silica, and specific temperature and pressure conditions over extended periods, making their occurrence limited.

The scarcity of high-quality, precious opals with vibrant play-of-color significantly contributes to their cost. Factors like the pattern, intensity, and distribution of colors within the stone also influence the gem’s price.

2. Tourmaline Rarity

Tourmalines, while more abundant than opals, still exhibit variations in rarity depending on their color. Some tourmaline colors are more common and affordable, while others are exceptionally rare and command higher prices.

For instance, pink tourmaline, also known as “rubellite,” is more abundant and affordable than certain other colors, such as Paraíba tourmaline. Paraíba tourmaline, found in Brazil and Mozambique, is renowned for its striking neon-blue and green hues. The rarity of Paraíba tourmaline, coupled with its vivid coloration, makes it one of the most expensive and sought-after varieties of tourmaline.

The rarity of a specific tourmaline variety depends on its color, clarity, and size. Deeply saturated, clean, and large stones with intense colors are considered more precious and command higher prices.

See Also: The World’s Rarest Tourmaline: Everything You Need To Know

Market Demand and Trends

Market demand plays a significant role in determining the cost of gemstones. The popularity of specific gemstones can fluctuate over time due to various factors, including fashion trends, cultural influences, and marketing efforts.

1. Opal Market Demand

The market demand for opals is influenced by their unique play-of-color and aesthetic appeal. Opals have enjoyed enduring popularity due to their captivating visual effects. However, the market demand can vary depending on the rarity and quality of the opal.

Black opals, characterized by a dark body color and vibrant play-of-color, are among the most sought-after opals. Their high demand is reflected in their price, making them one of the costliest opal varieties. On the other hand, white opals, while still attractive, are generally more affordable due to their greater abundance.

The market for opals can be sensitive to changes in fashion and design trends. At times, opals may experience fluctuations in demand based on their use in contemporary jewelry designs.

2. Tourmaline Market Demand

Tourmalines have been consistently popular in the world of colored gemstones due to their versatility and wide range of colors. The demand for tourmalines remains steady, with certain colors like pink and green being particularly favored for use in jewelry.

The introduction of rare and vivid varieties, such as Paraíba tourmaline, has created significant excitement in the market, driving up demand for these exceptional gemstones. The market for Paraíba tourmaline has been known for its strong demand, particularly among collectors and investors.

Tourmalines are often used in both classic and contemporary jewelry designs, further contributing to their enduring appeal in the gem market.

Gemstone Treatments and Enhancements

Another crucial factor influencing the cost of opals and tourmalines is the presence of treatments or enhancements. Gemstones are often subjected to various treatments to improve their appearance, durability, and overall quality. These treatments can significantly impact the price of the gemstone.

Opal Treatments

Opals are commonly treated to enhance their stability and appearance. Some common treatments include:

1. Backfilling: This process involves filling cracks or voids in the opal with a colorless material to improve its appearance and stability.

2. Treatment for porosity: Opals with porosity or small fractures may be treated with impregnating agents to enhance their durability.

3. Smoke or sugar treatments: These treatments are used to darken the body color of opals, improving their play-of-color.

4. Doublets and triplets: In some cases, opals are used to create doublets or triplets, which involve layering the opal with other materials to enhance its appearance.

The extent and type of treatment can affect the price of opals. Natural, untreated opals with vibrant play-of-color are considered the most valuable.

Tourmaline Treatments

Tourmalines, like many gemstones, can undergo various treatments to improve their appearance. Some common treatments for tourmalines include:

1. Heat treatment: This process is used to enhance the color and clarity of tourmalines. Heat-treated tourmalines are common in the market and generally more affordable than untreated stones.

2. Irradiation: This treatment is used to create certain colors in tourmalines, such as green or blue. Irradiated tourmalines may require disclosure to buyers.

3 .Fracture filling: To improve clarity, some tourmalines are treated with fillers to hide surface-reaching fractures.

4. Oiling: Oiling is used to enhance the clarity of tourmalines by filling surface-reaching fissures. Oiled stones are often considered less valuable than untreated gems.

As with opals, the treatment history of a tourmaline can impact its price. Untreated, natural tourmalines are generally more valuable, especially when they exhibit rare and vibrant colors.

Size, Cut, and Clarity

The size, cut, and clarity of a gemstone also play a significant role in its price. Larger gemstones are typically more expensive than smaller ones, all other factors being equal. The cut of the gemstone affects its brilliance and overall aesthetic appeal. A well-cut gemstone with precise angles and facets can command a higher price.

In terms of clarity, gemstones with fewer inclusions or blemishes are generally more valuable. However, the impact of clarity can vary depending on the gemstone type. In some cases, certain gemstones, like emeralds or opals, are prized for their unique inclusions, known as “jardin” in the case of emeralds, which can enhance their character and individuality.

Conclusion: Opal vs. Tourmaline – The Cost Comparison

Opals and tourmalines are both captivating gemstones, each with its unique charm and allure. When it comes to cost, several factors come into play, including rarity, market demand, treatments, and the individual characteristics of each stone.

Overall, the price of opals can vary widely based on their type (precious or common), the presence of a vibrant play-of-color, and their size and quality. Precious opals with exceptional play-of-color are among the costliest gemstones in the world.

Tourmalines, on the other hand, are available in a wide range of colors and prices. While some tourmaline varieties, like Paraíba tourmaline, are highly sought after and expensive, others, like pink tourmaline, are more accessible.

Ultimately, the choice between opals and tourmalines depends on your personal preferences, budget, and the specific qualities you value in a gemstone. Whether you prefer the mesmerizing play-of-color of opals or the kaleidoscope of hues offered by tourmalines, both gemstones have their own unique appeal and are valuable additions to any jewelry collection.


You May Also Like


Giacoloredstones is a colored gem portal. The main columns are Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Tanzanite, Amethyst, Garnet, Turquoise, Knowledges, News, etc.【Contact us: [email protected]

© 2023 Copyright