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A tribute to my father

A friend approached me recently and asked to see some pictures of an opal my father cut when he was alive.

While it’s hard for me to talk about, I wanted to share with you this tribute to my father, and the greatest cutter I ever knew; Jurgen.

An artists’ portrait of my father, Jurgen.

My father was my mentor for everything in life, and he taught me everything I know about opal. I loved him so much, and I miss his presence in my life daily.

A flood of memories come back to me when I think a lot about our times together in the opal industry. His passion and artistic talent were so much greater than mine, which showed in how he approached opal cutting.

As an artist, he painted, sculpted, carved and created things sometimes out of nothing. His imagination was beyond mine when it came to making anything. So when he cut an opal, he treated the piece as an artist painting orientating pattern and following that color millimetre by millimetre. His exactness was unmatched by anyone else I know in the industry.

I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to absorb a little from him while he was on this earth. It took me three years to convince him that I was ready to cut some nice gems and not just potch and colorless silica. Thirty years down the track, the energy and knowledge he had were partly transferred to me. I believe that I now cut opal with confidence because of the knowledge we built together while I worked with him cutting stone after stone. Learning about how each opal field cuts and how to attack even the most difficult of rough opals. He also taught me to know when we had been beaten, which happened a lot. Those times were when we gained our knowledge and grew the most.

I thought it would be nice to share with you one of the opals in my collection that he cut when I was a kid. He stashed it away in a collection not much different from mine. This gem now lives in my collection as the most sentimental king stone as it has stories of love, family and history that cannot be replaced by other things. I will never sell it, and hopefully, my son will keep it in the family for as long as we exist.

The unique position I am currently in is not unappreciated, and while I have put a lot of effort into building this business, I have to attribute the fact that my dad gave me his all to help me get where I am today. I’m sure he’d be as proud of me as I am of him for all he has done for the industry and me in my life.

The crystal opal comes from the 3 Mile field in a section that was mined out many years ago. The crystal that came from there was some of the best in the world and wish I had a time machine to go back and get some more.

Three generations; Saxon, Justin, and Jurgen.