Siblings unearth $1.2 million opal find in Queensland outback

Brother and sister Isaac and Sofia Andreou have discovered a miraculous opal deposit near the town of Yowah, Queensland, with the find valued at $1.2 million.

The pair – an opal cutter and retailer, respectively – had no prior experience with searching for opal, but were guided by veteran local miner Rod Griffin and experienced friend David Darby on the expedition, which was filmed for the Discovery Channel’s Outback Opal Hunters series.

It is by far the most valuable find documented on the series, nearly five times larger than the previous record of $250,000.

“It was a mixture of shock and just pure amazement”

SOFIA ANDREOU, OPAL EARTH/WHITSUNDAY OPALS

Sofia Andreou operates Opal Earth/Whitsunday Opals, a second-generation opal jewellery and loose opal store in Airlie Beach, Queensland, with the siblings inheriting their love of opals from their parents, who began the business in the 1960s.

Describing the find, Sofia told the Daily Mail, “It was a mixture of shock and just pure amazement.”

Isaac added, “Words cannot describe the way the heart beats, hairs standing up on end.”

Yowah is located more than 900km southwest of Brisbane and is famous for its opal mining and opal fields. The Yowah nut – a rare type of boulder opal encased in ironstone – is found there. 

The Andreous’ 150kg find included Yowah nuts – one specimen, named the ‘Yowah Moon’, was valued at $50,000 – and Koroit nuts, also known as Koroit matrix opal.

Yowah hosts an annual Opal Festival each year, with the 2021 edition set to take place 16-18 July.

Bumper season for Queensland gems 

Meanwhile, the devastating March floods across the east coast of Australia have had a positive impact on other would-be gemstone hunters, with tourists flocking to the Central Queensland gemfields region to search for sapphires, the ABC reports.

Located approximately 900km northwest of Brisbane, the Gemfields comprises designated fossicking areas including Willows, Sapphire/Rubyvale, Glenalva, and Middle Ridge. Flooding washes away the top layer of soil, making shallow fossicking easier.

Sapphires from this region generally range in colour from teal to green, yellow and blue. 

The group who discovered the opal deposit near Yowah: (from left) David Darby, Isaac Andreou, Chris Daff, and Sofia Andreou.
Image credit: Discovery Channel
A rare Koroit matrix opal, found by the Andreous’ group. Image credit: Daily Mail

This article is republished with permission from Jeweller Magazine

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