Some famous opals and references from famous authors
Opal Jewellery Sydney
Opals have been mined in Coober Pedy since the 1840s and Lightning Ridge since the beginning of the 20th century.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “The hues of the opal, the light of the diamond, are not to be seen if the eye is too near.”
In 1906 Charlie Dunstan found a 900-carat black opal “alive with colour and too beautiful for words” at Angledool, about 30 kms north of Lightning Ridge — it is now called The Fire Queen and is in the Rockefeller family collection.
John Steinbeck wrote: “There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I.
The Flame Queen, found in 1914 at Bald Hill in Lightning Ridge, is a triangular opal weighing 263.18 carats with a raised dome of predominantly red/bronze in the centre, surrounded by an intense blue-green border. It is the most famous and documented black opal of all.
Shakespeare — Twelfth Night: “Now the melancholy God protect thee, and the tailor make thy garments of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is opal.”
In 1938 the world’s most valuable black opal, the Aurora Australis, was mined at Lightning Ridge. It is oval with a harlequin pattern and weighs 180 carats. It has a distinct starfish impression on its back.
“Mysterious opals contain the wonders of the skies – sparkling rainbows, fireworks, and lightning, shifting and moving in their depths.”
In 1954 a suite of finest gem crystal opal from the Andamooka opal fields was made into a necklace, earrings and cufflinks for the South Australian government to give Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip on their Australasian tour. The necklace is called The Andamooka Opal.
Oscar Wilde — The Nightingale and the Rose: “Surely love is a wonderful thing. It is more precious than emeralds, and dearer than fine opals. Pearls and pomegranates cannot buy it, nor is it set forth in the marketplace. It may not be purchased of the merchants, nor can it be weighed out in the balance for gold.”
The largest opal of all — and still uncut — is the white opal Olympic Australis, mined in 1956 by Bert Wilson at The Eight Mile in Coober Pedy, just before the Melbourne Olympics and named for them. It is 11 by 4.5 inches, 99 per cent gem quality, has a pinfire pattern, weighs 17,000 carats and is in the Guinness Book of Records. It is still in the Sydney showroom of its original purchaser, Altmann & Cherney Ltd.
For your opals, or an opal for the one you love, come to Diamonds by Design. Karen Lindley is a world-renowned opal expert and, Australia’s first female gemmologist specialising in and selling opal. We will find the gem of your dreams and design a glorious custom-made ring for you to treasure your whole life long.