International fine arts auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields will offer in its June 22 sale of Natural History perhaps the most famous and recognizable opal in the world.
Dubbed the “Flame Queen,” the legendary stone highlights the core of an opal collection on offer this summer in the auctioneer’s first simulcast Natural History sale in seven years. The auction house said bidding from the San Francisco and Los Angeles salesrooms is expected to be competitive.
Extraordinary not only for its large size (263.18-cts.), but also for its unusual shape and color pattern, the “Flame Queen” is one of only a handful of large museum-quality opals known to man, even fewer have ever been offered at public auction. The “Flame Queen” is oval in shape with a flat central dome surrounded by a blue-green band – lending it the appearance of a fried egg.
Known to aficionados around the globe, The “Flame Queen” could bring as much as $250,000, the auction house said. It is one of the most prominent examples of the eye-of-opal effect, which is created when an opal in-fills a cavity. It possesses the ability to change color when viewed from different angles.
The “Flame Queen” opal was discovered in 1914 at the Bald Hill Workings in Lightning Ridge, Australia by three partners: Jack Phillips, Walter Bradley, and Joe Hegarty.