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Gemstones found in Australia: Opals, Diamonds, Sapphires, Pearls and Jade
Australia is not only known for its natural beauty above the ground. It is also known for its wealth of gemstones and minerals that are found under the ground and in the ocean. Australia is known for its opals, diamonds and sapphires. Other gemstones are pearls and jade which are also found in abundance in Australia. You'll find many opal and diamond shops in Australia where you can purchase jewellery with these gemstones.
If you are collecting gemstones and minerals then I'm pleased to say that in some stores you can also find relatively unpolished raw gems. These are a lot harder to find around the central business districts of cities, as most stores prefer to sell you polished jewellery, but with some effort you can also take home an unpolished gemstone of Australia.
In short, this article presents an overview of some common gemstones of Australia.
Opals are truly what Australia is known for in terms of gems and minerals: opal is Australia's national gemstone! The far majority (well over 90%) of opals are found in Australia. Various types of opal can be found, such as white opal, crystal opal, boulder opal, black opal and matrix opal.
Some well-known mining towns in Australia are: Coober Pery in South Australia, the town Lightning Ridge in New South Wales and Andamooka, also in South Australia. Australia's mining history dates back as far as the 19th century with many opal fields discovered across the country. These opal fields are commercially exploited and they are producing a wealth of Australian opals.
Australian opals are carefully polished and turned into beautiful jewellery. Major streets in cities as Sydney and Melbourne have a variety of jewellery stores where you can buy Australian opal jewellery. I've shown a selection of what you can find in this articles, such as rings, necklaces, pendants and bracelets, all with Australian opal in it!
Australian opal bracelets
Australian opal earrings
What has not been said and written about diamonds? Jewellery with diamonds has attracted many throughout the ages and they make a great gift. Many Australian diamonds come from the Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia. This mine has the largest production of diamond by volume in the world.
Some of the finest jewellery combines Australian opals with Australian diamonds to create a sparkling combination of natural gemstones. You can find necklaces with pendants that have an opal in the middle surrounded by diamonds which makes your purchase just that little bit more Australian!
Australia diamond jewellery
Australia has various mining fields where sapphire is found. The country was at one point the largest producer of sapphire in the world but it has now been surpassed by Madagascar. Sapphire of Australia comes from two major fields in Queensland and New South Wales.
Unlike other gemstones, sapphire can be found in almost any color. Sapphire is commonly sold in its blue variety and you'll find a lot of blue sapphire in Australian sapphire jewellery.
Be aware though that there also exists synthetic sapphire which has been produced in a laboratory or factory. It is not natural sapphire so make sure you purchase genuine sapphire or sapphire jewellery.
Australia is known for its South Sea pearls which our found in the northern waters around the country. The pearling industry of Australia also dates back to the 19th century with commercial harvesting taking place in Western Australia and Queensland. It also takes place near Darwin in the Northern Territory.
It's hard to go wrong with the purchase of jewellery with pearls as these are very fine gemstones of Australia. They're white, elegant and beautiful. They're also found in other colors, such as cream, pink, gold or silver varieties.
South Sea pearls are also produced in Indonesia and the Philippines.
South Sea pearls earrings
South Sea pearls necklaces
Lastly, Australia also provides a variety of green jade, although its neighboring country New Zealand is more known for its jade jewellery. Jade is usually green but there are also other colors.
The word jade can refer to either nephrite or jadeite. These tough materials were used to carve weapons and knives in prehistoric times. Jade has also been used for decorative purposes such as small jewellery and other items. In particular the Maori, the native population of New Zealand, have used jade a lot for their carvings.
I would say jade is not that typically Australian as opal and diamonds but, of course, when making a purchase you should let yourself be guided by your personal taste, not what someone else says you should buy as Australian souvenir or gift.
Looking for other Australian souvenirs or gifts?
Jewellery with gemstones can be pricey so I've also search for other souvenirs and gifts of Australia. Have a look at the following articles to learn more about Australian souvenirs and Aussie gifts:
- Australian Souvenirs and Gifts from Australia
Whether you're going to Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney, it doesn't matter: you want a typical Australian souvenir! This article tells you what to get to keep that Australian feeling with you for a long time.
- Aboriginal Art For Kids
Aboriginal art for kids can be a great way to share the culture of indigenous Australians with young people! What is aboriginal art for children and where to find it?