Posted 6 years ago
One of the great names in the Australian opal trade is Percy Marks, a jeweller from Sydney, whose family is still active in opals to this day.
He's believed to have coined the phrase "Black Opal" for the stones from Lightning Ridge, which he determinedly promoted as Australia's national gemstone for the rest of his life.
Percy Marks (1879-1935) was the son of a jeweller, and began a jewellery apprenticeship at age 14. Once qualified he soon commenced business on his own account. In 1907 he saw the first stones from Lightning Ridge and headed to the fields to stake a claim.
Percy found no opal of his own, but bought as many stones as he could afford, and took them back to Sydney. For the rest of his career he was a tireless promoter of opals in Australia and worldwide.
This piece contains a 12mm x 7.5mm x 5mm solid black opal, of about 3ct, cut in a typical high domed cabochon, with plenty of orangy red flashes licking around it like flames.
The 9ct rose gold mount is a simple engraved panel with a claw setting. It's quite typical of hand-made Australian jewellery from the late Victorian to Edwardian period, and probably dates to pre-1914, making it another rare survivor of early Australian Lightning Ridge opal jewellery.