Hiya Hiya from Virgin Valley Nevada, USA. The Virgin Valley Opal Mining District in Humboldt Co has been mined for Black Opal, White Opal, Crystal Opal, Fire  Opal and Precious Wood Opal since the early1900s and it has been suggested; also by the Chinese explorers before Columbus. Swordfish Mining, me, began operations in 1993 on the Swordfish claim group.  I fell head over heels for Leah Brashear (RIP 2005) and her family, that with her mom Marie and Grandparents, had established several good digs and a millsite in the 70s we lived on for a decade. Leahs' eulogy is back on the about me page.

      The past 2015 season had about the same traffic or less than the year before. The Kokopelli Opal Mine stayed open and the Opal Queen stayed closed.  Kokopelli Opal digging is by appointment through their website.  In Virgin Valley at any of the mines, except the Opal Queen Mine where he has a 50/50 opal split policy, you keep ALL the opals you find for what was paid for the day.  All gem opal rough including semiprecious opalized wood is included in the entry fee. Outside on the refuge the limit is 7 pounds.

      The brilliance, size, and qualities of the precious Nevada opals play of color is unique and varies. It generally occurs as wood replacements, more than veins or nodules. This offers both collectors and cutters unparalleled variety in a unique matrix; petrified wood. Opal is a mineral pseudomorph (meaning it fills holes when forming) and can make lifelike fossils, even bones and teeth can be replaced and the deeded mines have recoved many such items over the years.  Miocene Period from about 12 million years ago give or take a few. The genus of the plants are modern ones. There isn't a big supply of cutting rough from all these mines put together each year.  Most all the opal here is mined and consumed by the many rockhounds and jewelers who specialize in our favorite fossil - precious wood and the State Gemstone Black Fire Opal. The best opals are usually kept in water without drying as specimens due to changes all opal might go through after mining. Clarity changes, cracks as it relieves pressure drying and the ones that craze. Keith Hodson said it was an "Honest Opal" in that it told you right up front what it was.

      YOUR luck, skill and effort are the factors of which mine to go to and then what opals you'll come away with. All have fair offerings, but each Fee Dig is different from the others. They all have their own nature, facilities, and operators to experience, while the black precious opal might be found on every one any given day.  Swordfish Mining links to all of their websites to make it easier for you to contact them. You have to work hard for what you MAY find, so don't give up. Some opals are available in the gift shops here or online from other miners. Ask the owners your questions about their dates, times and fees please. I am not in charge of any of their businesses. Opal is where you find it, the best may come from any mine and the biggest best one is still out there to be found in all likelyhood.

     When e-mailing me:   PLEASE USE AN OPAL RELATED SUBJECT as I blacklist without reading spam. Contact  john at Or call me at  home 775-941-0725 Pacific Time Zone. Please leave a message if I'm out mining and I will call you when I return.   
Gem Precious Opalized Wood Bead Gem Precious Opalized Wood Bead.
Gemstone Wood: all Opals will be more colorful and brighter when in held in hand.
No photo shopping has been done to any images. Any cracks or treatments are disclosed if present. Provenance certificates will be issued by me on the strength of my reputation in the district for specimens I see extracted.

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Swordfish Mining
PO Box # 124
Denio, NV

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