Watch as I cut a $25K gem entirely by hand and see the magic that unfolds!
Cutting an opal without using dop sticks is a tricky skill for a cutter to learn. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of mini heart attacks when one goes shooting across the room.
You need to maintain a good hold of the rough when you’re rolling and shaping it. Without the use of dop sticks, you’re relying on wet fingers to stay gripped on the stone while you shape and polish it. It can feel a bit like holding on to a slippery fish the first time!
This rough opal piece beams bright and is about as colorful as the miner’s language when he found it! When I first saw this stone, I knew an opal this special deserved a unique approach.
Long and unconventional but extremely bright, this black opal is from Grawin Opal Fields in Lightning Ridge. It is seam opal which means it formed over millennia in fissures and cracks or cavities underground. The size of the rough is giving me the confidence to try something different and test my skills.
I don’t do this often, but today I’ll cut a $25K gem entirely by hand.
Are you ready to see how it turned out?
The Final Gem
The result of today’s session is an opal as bright as our futures; a 16.64-carat gem with orange and green (and a very happy cutter).
This opal has two levels of patterns; one more valuable than the other. The first is a mix of broad flash and flagstone with some gorgeous ribbon pattern underneath. The second is more of a moss or grass pattern, which is more common and brings the stone’s value per carat down.
Overall, I’m dance-worthy happy I chose to cut a $25K gem entirely by hand and got this epic result.