Friday, February 28, 2014

Tucson Goodies, Part V: Koroit Opal

For 2014, I have several goals, designed to stretch both my metalworking skills and my gem-buying choices. It's no secret that I love the rare, the unusual, the sometimes fantastical gemstones...but often the rare, unusual, and fantastical is out of budget. In the past, I've compromised by buying smaller gems, more organically-shaped cuts (less skilled cutters often cut the gems into organic shapes, rather than perfectly balanced shapes and sharp corners, which are harder to do well, and thus cost more), and simply choosing not to purchase the gems that seemed completely out of reach.

I do choose what I consider to be the best of the gems that I can afford, considering size, shape, and quality. My loyal customers know that when you buy jewelry from me, the gems are the very best I can find. I've also been working nonstop on honing my metal skills so that I could do those gems justice..and now I want to stretch the type of gems I offer as well.

With this in mind, one of my splurge-y purchases this year was four (yes, just four) Koroit opals.

I wish I could get a better shot of these, so you could really see the color play of the opal. But these take a very high polish and that causes them to reflect the lighting terribly, so I get a lot of glare on my photos. But they're beautifully lit from with in with opal veining. **I did make a video of these beauties; unfortunately I am not tech savvy enough (yet) to upload it here. But it's posted in Instagram (I'm bluepiranha) and on Facebook.  :)

The stone above has a bit of opal veining at the top and more at the bottom. Koroit opal is a form of boulder opal, which, just like boulder turquoise, means that the opal is not completely cut out of the host stone. The interesting thing about Koroit opals ( from the Southwestern part of Queensland, Australia) is that the host rock (and thus the opal contained within) ends up forming these wonderfully wild and whimsical curly, curvy patterning. I bought these directly from the man who mines them, and he told me that Koroit is the only place where that kind of geological patterning takes place for opals, and no one knows why.

You can see a bit more of the color play throughout this stone. And trust me when I tell you that while these were a bit of a stretch for my budget, they were the miner's least expensive gems. Most were not stretch-able for me at this time, but I did spend a bit of time looking at his other offerings. They are like freakin' candy.

Here's a great example of an even more fabulous - and much pricier - Koroit opal:

See how much more color play, both throughout the stone, and in the opal striations, it has? And it's much more precisely cut than the organically shaped gems that I purchased.

I'm not ready for that yet...but a girl's got to start somewhere. And these opals are just one of many stepping stones (no pun intended) on my way to bigger, bolder, better. :)


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