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Talent in Unexpected Places: Opal cutting with sandpaper and leather

Is this an opal? Yes it is!
The opal that Steiner cut

Yesterday morning I was sent an image on FB by someone who asked if the stone was a real opal. As you can see from the image I thought that it was and to me, it looks like Australian material rather than Ethiopian (I would need to see further images to confirm this).

The message then revealed that he had cut the stone himself by hand. At this point I was intrigued and a few more questions revealed that he had very little equipment and had “cut” it using only sandpaper and cow leather.

At this stage I was a little blown away but the next revelation really got me. His name is Steiner Florian and he lives in Indonesia. He is 14 years old and is obsessed with gemstones. He loves all gemstones and can’t get enough of them. Steiner is completely self taught when it comes to cutting and polishing and does so using only rudimentary equipment.

Steiner Florian - opal cutter in the making
Steiner Florian – opal cutter in the making

I started thinking about my equipment and the challenges we have using a multitude of wheels. Why, we are so lucky to have access to all the stuff and here is someone who doesn’t who is still making it happen. I don’t know if I would have the tenacity to try opal cutting with only sandpaper and leather. What about you?

I chatted some more to this young fella about opal and discovered that he was dying to cut a black opal but needed to save some money first. To encourage him and also to find out more I’ve decided to send him a piece of black opal to see what he can do.

This is so intriguing to me to see how he actually does it so Steiner has promised to try and video or photograph his process. I’ll keep you all updated on this one.

Leather similar to the hide Steiner uses to polish opal
Leather similar to the hide Steiner uses to polish opal

Do you have a story about opal or cutting gemstones you think I might like – I love these types of stories about how people make do and set themselves up.

Please email me or write in the comments below with your stories.