How Much is a Natural Opal Worth?

Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, where the vast majority of the precious variety of this stone is mined. It is known for the striking display of shifting rainbow colors that the finest specimens exhibit, called play-of-color. No two opals are alike, from their base color to the hues found in their play-of-color, which means that determining the value of an individual stone is less straightforward than for other gemstones.

How Much is a Natural Opal Worth - Auction King

Take diamonds, for example. To determine the value of a diamond, you take into account the four Cs—color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Evaluating an individual stone on these primary factors allows you to easily compare it to other diamonds. Opals, on the other hand, should be evaluated not only on the size of the stone and how skillfully it is cut, but on the base color, the stone’s clarity, and the colors and pattern of the play-of-color. Each of these factors will influence the value of the stone.

In general, opals tend to be cut in cabochons, which best display the shifting colors for which it is known. (The exception to this rule is fire opals, which may also be found in faceted cuts.) A jeweler may cut an opal into a free-form shape to best display an unusually striking play-of-color, but in general, symmetrical cabochons that are neither too thin nor too thick are preferred, and will be valued more highly.

The base color of an opal can range from white to black, with a white or light background being most common. Darker stones are preferred, as they tend to show a more vivid and thus more desirable play-of-color. Black opals, which have a jet-black base color, are the most valuable, and can go for thousands of dollars per carat, depending on the other factors affecting a stone’s overall appearance.

Opals can be found with a clarity from transparent to opaque, with greater transparency increasing the value of the stone. Clear opals of any base color are called crystal opals, and are coveted because their transparency makes the play-of-color throughout the stone more visible. Inclusions are evaluated solely on how they affect the overall appearance of the stone.

Many factors are considered in evaluating the play-of-color itself. First, the play-of-color should ideally be centered on the stone and not include any dead spots (i.e., places in the stone that exhibit no play-of-color). It should be bright and visible under any lighting conditions to command the best prices. How many and which colors are included in the play-of-color matter—colors on the warm end of the spectrum are rare, and a more varied display-of-color is better than a limited one. Finally, larger or rare patterns of play-of-color are more valuable than small patterns that may show only pinpricks of color across a stone.

Ultimately, the value of an individual opal is somewhat subjective—the beauty of each opal is unique to that particular stone, because of the geologic processes that form it. To find precious opals at below-market prices, visit the online auction at Auction King. Our live auctioneer can answer any questions you have about individual pieces via our chat module, so you can feel confident you know the characteristics of the necklace or ring you choose before you buy. Sign up for a free account to get started.

How to Get a Rolex for Cheap

Among high-end luxury watches, Rolex is the brand everybody recognizes, even if they don’t know much about watches. With a reputation for reliability, durability, and classic style, it’s no wonder that this has become the go-to luxury purchase for watch collectors or those looking to celebrate a significant career achievement or life event. Of course, with even the least expensive new Rolexes retailing for thousands of dollars, this isn’t a purchase most can make lightly. However, you don’t have to resign yourself to waiting until you can save up the money to pay full sticker price on a brand-new Rolex. If you know where to look, you can get a Rolex for a fraction of the retail price.

How to Get a Rolex for Cheap - Auction King

Rolex built its reputation on precision and durability, crafting its watches to function accurately in the most extreme environments. While Rolex watches come in a variety of different models, the overall iconic style has remained consistent and timeless. Classics like the Oyster, Submariner, and GMT-Master are still manufactured today in versions not radically altered from their initial iterations. This doesn’t just aid in brand recognition; it means even Rolexes that are decades old remain stylish rather than looking dated, and of course their superior workmanship means they still keep time perfectly. Savvy collectors take advantage of these facts to purchase used Rolexes at lower prices than can be found in retail stores.

As with many other kinds of luxury goods, your best odds of finding a good price on a Rolex are at auction. However, you need to be certain that you are buying from a reputable seller. Counterfeit watches are a big business precisely because luxury watches are such a desirable commodity, and Rolex is a prime target for those wishing to dupe unwary purchasers. While there are several ways to help distinguish a real Rolex from a fake, your first step should always be to take care in who you’re buying from.

You’re most likely to find a Rolex at a lower price at an auction that specializes in seized or abandoned goods. This is because these auctions won’t have a reserve, or minimum price, they are trying to meet before they’ll sell their goods. Rolexes are known for retaining or even increasing their value over time, so traditional auctions will set opening bids at a significant fraction of the retail value of the watch, while auctions of seized goods can start with bids as low as one dollar.

Just like a work of art, a Rolex is an investment that brings personal enjoyment to its owner while it appreciates in value over time. If you purchase one wisely, you can have the added satisfaction of knowing you got it at below-market prices. Auction King regularly features Rolex watches, along with other luxury watch brands. With deep experience in the auction business, we offer the convenience of online shopping with attentive customer service, answering all your questions on any piece so you can be satisfied that you are getting exactly what you want. Sign up for a free online account to get started today.

Are Lithographs a Good Investment?

Collecting fine art is a pastime often associated with the fabulously wealthy. This isn’t just an indication that rich people appreciate culture—they have found throughout the centuries that art can be a good investment as well. It is possible for those with more limited resources to purchase artworks as an investment, and lithographs are a popular choice. Are they a good investment? The answer, as with so much in the world of fine art, is “it depends.”

Are Lithographs a Good Investment - Auction King

Lithographs are authorized copies of original works of art. Sometimes these copies are made by the artist; sometimes the copies are made by someone else. In general, print runs of lithographs are kept low to preserve the value of each individual print. While a lithograph will rarely bring as much as the original artwork, they can be quite valuable even while being relatively more affordable. If you are considering buying one, look for these factors to assess the lithograph’s worth and potential for appreciation:

Rarity: The more copies of the same lithograph there are on the market, the less any individual piece will bring. In some cases, the original plate will be destroyed after the print run, ensuring that no future copies of the piece will be made to dilute the value of existing lithographs.

Quality: The quality of the print itself can contribute or detract from the value of a lithograph. Learn what you can about the process used to produce the image, as some lithographs are printed using traditional artisanal methods, which can boost the value of individual prints.

Condition: As with any other kind of artwork, the condition of the piece itself can greatly influence its value. A well-preserved lithograph without marks, dirt, or tears will obviously be worth more than if it is damaged.

Artist: Paradoxically, a famous artist may not be your best choice for purchasing a lithograph for its investment potential. Lithographs by extremely famous artists tend to command top dollar from the outset, which means that there is less potential for growth. You may be better off looking for attractive lithographs from up-and-coming artists—the advantage here is that you’re likely to pay less at the outset.

Authenticity: You’ll want to be sure that the lithograph you purchase is in fact authorized. Many of the signs you’d expect to find on or with an authorized lithograph—a certificate of authenticity, hand numbering, and even an artist’s signature—can be faked, unfortunately, so it is best to purchase your artwork from reputable dealer or auction house you trust.

It’s worth remembering that you should be prepared to hold onto any artwork you purchase for investment potential for a long time. The value of art tends to appreciate slowly, and is subject to the whims of artistic fashion. Your best bet is to choose a high-quality lithograph that appeals to your own taste, so you can enjoy it until you decide to sell. If you’re ready to consider purchasing a lithograph, check out the live online auction at Auction King. We offer below-market prices on fine art every day. Sign up for a free account to get started.