Posted 5 years ago
Recently I had the extraordinary good fortune to acquire one family's collection of opals dating back to the 1930's.
The story goes that Grandad left New Zealand for Australia during the dire days of the Great Depression, to try his luck on the newly discovered South Australian opal fields at Coober Pedy.
The conditions must have been desperate in the desert in those days and who knows what the miners went through.
However Grandad was one of the lucky ones, and returned to New Zealand with a pocketful of gold sovereigns and a spectacular haul of opal.
He had some of the opal made into jewellery before he left Australia as presents for his wife and children, and there were some choice "rubs" (semi-finished chunks of opal) kept for the future.
I got one of these "rubs" and a few pieces of the family jewels. They provide a fascinating look into the history of opal jewellery in our part of the world (Australia & New Zealand) and show just how good the old pieces were.
All the jewellery was well worn, and I'm slowly getting it back from being re-polished and fixed up, I'll show these as they come to hand.
We're also having a few modern pieces made from this rub, watch this space for those too.
The colour range in this wedge shaped rub as it changes from red to green is extraordinary.
Unfortunately the colour you're seeing on the side of the stone won't necessarily remain like that if an opal gem was cut and polished using that side.
The best colour is actually along the long narrow base that's face down in the first 3 pics.
This narrow 6-7mm wide base is shown in the last pic after we took a 5ct slice off the rub to make the first new piece, a pair of earrings.
It doesn't look like much in the 4th pic. You're seeing the unpolished base after a diamond saw has taken a slice off. However you'll get the idea of what these long narrow gems look like as we show some of the vintage family jewels in the collection.