Lightning Ridge Opal Field Lightning Ridge Fossils are among some of the most amazing fossils found any where in the world. At Lightning Ridge opal is usually found near the interface of the Wallangulla sandstone and the Finch clay facies (called the opal dirt). The opal is...

Andamooka Rainbow Matrix Opal is fast becoming popular with those who can't afford a "Real Opal". Originally it was called "concrete" because that was what it looked like although you could see small specks of opal in amongst the concrete like grains. It is a porous quartzite host rock in which opal has been deposited amongst the quartz grains. In its raw state you can hardly see the opal and for this reason the early miners discarded it as valueless. If you hunt around the mullock heaps or even on the roadsides in Andamooka you still have a chance of picking up  a piece. A photo of a typical piece of concrete is shown below.

More Andamooka Matrix Opal

During the last month I was contacted by Andre who told me he had a couple of pieces of Andamooka matrix opal he had collected some time ago. He purchased one of these from Cash Converters and they were part of a deceased estate. Andre was obviously quite astute as the Andamooka matrix opal was not treated. Unless you know what you are looking for, some untreated Andamooka matrix opal can be quite un-exciting (if there is such a word). It is usually  very pale with only a hint of colour in it. However if it is treated by heating it in a sugar solution for several hours and in a sulphuric acid solution the background turns black as the acid combines with the sugar in the pores of the stone to form carbon. This change of background allows the opal colours to really stand out. It is a really amazing transformation and the end result can be a gemstone of great beauty. Andre treated the Andamooka matrix opal with sugar and battery acid. Most people insist you need 98% sulphuric acid but these results show that this is not necessarily the case always although Andre now advises that the battery acid started boiling in his wall oven and in the end it was destroyed. Might be better to stick with the 98% acid and cook it in a well ventilated area. I use an old electric fry-pan and a pyrex dish and this works well.