In Uncut Gems (released on Netflix), Adam Sandler plays a jeweler looking to auction off his enormous opal. In the past, we have ranked opals towards the bottom of our Rarity Pyramid. Nevertheless, we find it necessary to debunk any myths or rumors about rare gems. Inevitably curious admirers of unique and large rare stones seen in movies will look up the price. Here, Adam Sandler fans will want to find out how factually accurate the story was. This post is dedicated to those people looking for more information about rare stones, specifically the stone from the movie Uncut Gems.
In the movie the rock was said to weigh close to 600 carats in rough. However, size is just one factor when it comes to Rarity.
There are two different price estimates for the Opal from Uncut Gems. At first, Sandler expected the Opal to go for $1 Million Dollars at auction. Much to his displeasure, the Auction House appraises the stone to be around $150,000.
This is a wide disparity. How do you get to an almost $800,000 price gap? How much is a 600 carat Unfinished Piece of Colorful Opal Rough go for?
The price will always depend on the gemstone’s identity. Reputable labs are in the best position to make this determination. The inquiry begins with determining whether the stone is real or not. After that, the species of the stone has to be determined. Hypothetically, we would have to know two things about the Opal from Uncut Gems to determine the price.
First, what type of opal is it: White Opal, Fire Opal, Boulder Opal, or Crystal/Water Opal, or the most valuable type of Opal: Black Opal. It is true that Black Opal is considered rare, but all indications in the movie point otherwise. Opals from Ethiopia usually have the white to light grey background versus Black Opals’ black/dark background. Is Sandler’s rock a Black Opal? Probably not (GIA also agrees). If it is a Black Opal and can be polished to be faceted, the price would potentially be very high and in line with the movie’s estimates. This is based on recent auctions noted below.
Pictured: Sotheby’s Black Opal Diamond Ring: $68,750 Hammer Price (Size is 18.9 x 13.7 mm about 20-25 cts).
Pictured: Christie’s Unmounted Black Opal: $68,450 Hammer Price (Size 31.21 carats)
Historically, all major important gemstones sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s famous Magnificent Jewels Auctions are cut and polished gemstones, not rough minerals. This is assuming that Sandler’s stone could keep its large size and color.
Secondly, rare gemstones (like alexandrite) in faceted form are always more valuable than rough form. Every gemstone has to be polished and faceted to be mounted in jewelry. Unless you are a museum, it is quite uncommon for collectors to bid for mineral specimens. In fact, fine jewelry will always feature a finished faceted stone. Compare the rough on the left with the nearly finished polished opal on the right.
While the movie does an excellent job showing how easily people can become enamored by a mineral specimen. The truth is there is way too much un-useable rough surrounding the only valuable colorful part of the opal specimen. Had someone wanted to polish the large specimen to look like a faceted opal, it would be unrecognizable because of how small it would end up being. Our opinion is that the opal from Uncut Gems would be somewhere between $5,000-$15,000 Total (assuming that it is not Black Opal).
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