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Cutting a witches hat nobby opal

What is a witches hat nobby and how do I cut one? We’ll have to flip our thinking for this challenge.

In this video, you’ll learn how to identify a witches hat nobby opal, as well as a couple of different cutting approaches. These nobby’s can be tricky and require skill and creativity to really get the best stone possible.

What is a witches hat nobby opal?

A witches hat nobby opal

Witches hats are a type of rough found in the opal mines of Lightning Ridge, Australia. Their telltale signs are the pointed peak cap and either a flat or concave underside.

There are a few things that can go terribly wrong with these guys. A lot of the time the potch can go right through, leaving little to no color left for you. It’s also quite hard to assess whether witches hat nobby’s will work out or not; I’ve been cutting for over 30 years and some still stump me!

In this video, you’ll see how I use a flashlight to inspect this witches hat nobby. I do this to see how much of the matter inside is potch and how much could hold color.

After cleaning the edges and finding a boatload more potch than I expected, I wanted to give up. I was tempted to stop cutting and scrap the whole video. But then, I remembered something my Dad taught me.

The advice that my Dad passed down to me is what makes me the cutter I am today. The lessons I learnt from him and throughout my cutting career help me see potential where others might give up.

Thanks to my Dads great lesson, I was able to salvage this rough opal piece to make two gorgeous stones. Just when I thought I had nothing, that I had lost my gamble on this nobby, creative thinking saved me.

I managed to cut two beautiful stones from today’s tricky witches hat nobby. The first, a 1.64-carat white opal triangle. The second was this gorgeous 1.85-carat crystal opal. Thankfully, I didn’t end up losing my gamble today!