“Should I buy opals as an investment?” “Are opal a wise investment?” The answer to this is really yes — and no — depending on your approach to purchasing.
In these days of such a volatile world economy, we all share uneasiness as to just what might prove to be a “hedge” to our security. It is difficult to receive a meaningful and definitive counsel on any investment. Investments whether for stocks, bonds, real estate, business ventures, gemstones in general — or opals specifically, all have many factors in common, i.e.: “Is the particular choice of good value relative to other choices?” “Are you buying while the market is low?” “Have you searched for and found a competitive, informed, and reliable broker (or dealer in the case of opals)?” “Is your dealer trained and experienced to enable him to competently advise you according to your particular needs?”
When considering opals as an investment, it is wise to approach the idea as you would any other investment — thinking the whole investment concept through. “What do you hope to achieve?” “When and how do you want to convert your investment?” “If you intend to sell, do you have a plan for selling them?” “Will you change them from rough to cut stones or from cut stones to finished jewelry?” Such conversions add value by your applied skills and if you do have these skills and the shop equipment to increase this value to your purchases, do not neglect to add this “asset” in your evaluation of your proposed investment plan.
Perhaps, as is more usually the case, you will not be planning to sell your opal investments, but rather have the pleasure of them as gems and leave them as a part of a family jewelry estate for the continuing enjoyment of your family and heirs.
You may wish to do as many other of today’s craftsmen are doing — convert the rough opals to gemstones, or the gemstones to custom crafted jewelry and sell it. If this is your plan, you will no doubt soon have a business venture on the way, and opals are a ‘sure fire’ seller! However, we can talk about such business objectives another time. This does not fall under the investment category.
Once you have decided that opals are worthy of your investment program, you will need an effective approach as to which opals to buy.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Buy the best you can afford! If there is one word of advice about prudent opal buying this is it! Remember, opals have value because of their beauty and rarity. These two factors usually combine — the most beautifully is usually most rare — and the price therefore climbs proportionately. But the fine opals, the beautiful, the exceptional gem will always be sought after and retain its value. It is better to have a one carat gem of fine quality than a bagful of low quality ‘opal in name only’ stuff. In seeking to buy so that value is stable and increases, this principal should be your guiding light.
2. Specialize You will have a more valuable investment if it is in a single form. It may take you some time to Zero in on your opal — it may turn out to be black opal, jelly, crystal, or boulder. It might be Australian or Mexican, rough or cut stones. You might know more about and have better opportunities to buy opal in finished jewelry — perhaps antique opal jewelry (there are some real prizes there!); maybe only specific items, say, ladies rings or pins or snuff bottles. Whatever your opal interest is, find it as early as possible and become a specialist in that opal!
3. Confer with as many qualified and experienced dealers as you can! Remember, dealers have had to be successful buyers or they wouldn’t still be in business. Profit from their mistakes. They have surely made them and will gladly steer you away from those pitfalls. This, by the way, is a bonus factor which you rarely find in most investments: Your stock broker need never have had a personal investment in stocks, or particularly the one he is advising for you; the real estate broker may, or may not, own real estate such as he suggest you buy.
4. Study Opals! Expose yourself to opals in every way possible. Join a gem and mineral club. You most certainly will meet others with an avid opal interest, and knowledge to share. Contact the American Opal Society, which is devoted exclusively to opals and they accept associate members from any place in the country. They have an ever increasing bank of information — films, opal bibliography, newsletter, etc. Attend gem shows at every opportunity — opals invariably are in full evidence at the shows! Read about any aspect of opal you can. There have been numerous books devoted to opals, from the mining, the gem aspects, the cutting and the history, and their use in handcrafted jewelry. Any information will increase your opal investing ability. If it does nothing else, it will give you a broader appreciation of the opal.
So the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ of it turns pretty much on your contribution (in addition to your pocketbook) to your opal investing. If you buy without a planned approach to it you will likely not have a wise investment. If you make planned investments out of your personal knowledge you could well be glad you chose opals!