An opal story about one of the most beautiful pieces in the Tiger Finch Jewellery showroom right now……
From the rough to finished piece
A little while ago……a beautiful yet rough piece of crystal opal came into my life. It was bought in the rough (unpolished and risky) but it sparkled in the sunlight and drew me in.
It was like a gorgeous sunset photographed through a murky lens, it needed to be expertly polished, to truly stand out from the crowd. It was given to renowned opal carver Daniela L’Abbate to bring out the hidden depths, add polish and fire to all that was already present. There is no doubt as can be seen from the above finished piece, she succeeded in her task.
The opal carving process can take hours and days of work for a larger piece and is expensive but so very rewarding. The gorgeous carved piece was then thoughtfully designed as a pendant by Tiger Finch Jewellery and handmade in rich 18 ct. yellow gold.
Precious or not so precious but still so rare
A long time ago, Lightning Ridge opal miners wanted only the best stones they could find (who could blame them) and the opal buyers only wanted to buy gem rough opal or good calibrated stones.
A calibrated stone is a stone that has been made to conform to standardised measurements. These calibrated stones appealed to jewellers due to the ease of setting. Now, this is totally understandable; an awkward or shall we say irregular, unusual, one of a kind, unique shape certainly offers up a more visually interesting basis for any piece of jewellery but is more challenging on all levels for the jeweller to set.
Back in the early 1990’s in a book, ‘Opal – Identification and value’ by Paul B. Downing, Ph.D he suggested “opal carvings, even exceptional ones, often do not sell for as much as an oval cabochon (calibrated stone) of equal quality and size. They should, but they don’t. I have no explanation for this, but it is a fact”.
Happily, as we move forward in all areas of art and creativity and as consumers of art and design, we desire less rigid, traditional jewellery and opt for one-off individual pieces.
Almost thirty years after Paul Downing published his book, Opal carvings are, in high demand. Jewellers are seeking out the profound beauty of opal carvings learning new techniques and the world is ready to showcase the infinite beauty contained within each unique piece.
Accepting the beauty over the difficulty is what makes opal carving jewellery really stand out. Using the natural formation of the opal and working with it almost organically to reveal the most tantalising shapes that require much thought and consideration when setting.
Opal carvings can be wonderful freeform expressions of an artisans talents. With the harmony of exceptional carving equally matched only by the skill and creativity of the jeweller.
This is a small introduction into the amazing world of carving precious opal into organic, naturalistic shapes utilising the precious opal material and not being restricted by conformity.
A jewellery designer can have the adventure of a lifetime creating a one-off design and ensuring imagination is the only limitation.