Hydrophane Opal with Intense Fire
Wello, Delanta Plateau, Tigray, Ethiopia
This is an excellent precious opal from the leading local mine found in Wello province, Delanta region, around 2700 ft above sea level and 570 km northwest of the capital city Addis Ababa. Discovered in 2008 gem crystal and hydrophane opal from Wello Ethiopia has recently come to the international market. Mined only by the local farmers who are currently banding together to form small mining cooperatives, the Ethiopian Ministry of Mining and Energy is making efforts to train them on mining safety, polishing, and market conditions.
Mineralogically speaking Wello opal is very different from Australian opal. In composition it may be most similar to Indonesian opal. Australian white opal, which some may superficially think has a similar appearance, is actually formed of silicon spheres stacked one on top of the other, creating a diffraction grating that disperses light entering the opal. The Wello material, on the other hand, has no spheres, but instead possesses a totally different structure altogether. The color display patterns range from rolling holographic orbs and dots to sheet, to flagstone to broadflash, to rolling ribbons and threads and exhibit some wave-like patterns as well.
Wello material is hydrophane opal that is porousa Wello opal put in water may siphon up the water through capillary action, which usually causes the beautiful neon colors to disappear. Once the opal is taken out of the water and placed on something absorbent, the water will seep out, and the colors make their appearance again as the opal dries.
This oval cabochon exhibits the most desirable qualities of this new find: good translucency, a creamy to white body color and lively broad flash of extensive red, orange, yellow and green to the well-formed dome. The colors are vibrant and a definite 5/5 in terms of brightness. Weighing approximately 16.3 carats and measuring 19.0 x 16.0 x 9.0mm