From Little Things, Big Things Grow

From little things, big things grow.
This is such a great way to describe the journey of an opal.
It begins with the hopes and dreams of the miner — the time and effort spent searching for something full of promise.
To the cutter, who agonizes over the best way to reveal the beauty of the gem.
Onto the jeweler, who with delicate hands and precision, sets the gem into a wearable piece of art.
Finally, to the person who admires and cherishes this incredible piece from our earth enough to make it their own.
A piece that has passed through the skilled hands of each artisan with love.

A Love Affair with Opals

It’s safe to say that my love affair with opals would possibly not exist if it wasn’t for my dad, Jurgen.
After leaving Germany in 1961 in search of a better life, he made his way to Australia.
He spent time in Sydney working as a laborer, where he met another German man in search of opportunities.
They spoke about Lightning Ridge and the mining taking place out there, next thing you know, they’re on a train to Walget.
From there onto Lightning Ridge, at that time only a dozen houses stood in the main town.
They bought a little camp and started mining.
Mining in those days consisted of picks and shovels, all done by candlelight.

Jurgen mined for a long time and finally decided he wanted to cut opal.
He purchased a Singer Sewing machine ( a foot pedal model) and converted it with a grinding wheel.
Dad recalls learning quite quickly, which prompted people to start taking their opals to him to cut.
From there, he taught himself how to carve with a Dremel, and not just opal, he could carve anything he put his mind to.
(Me on the other hand, I’m nowhere near as patient as he was with a dremel).
Dad was a true artist; his projects were not limited to opal; he painted in oils, carved in wood and minerals, and even furniture making.

Our Time Together

It took 3 years to convince him that I was ready to cut nice gems, not just potch and colorless silica.
Thirty-plus years down the track, I believe that I now cut opal with confidence because of the knowledge we built together.
He taught me how each opal field cuts and how to attack even the most difficult of rough opals.
Importantly, when we had been beaten by sand, which happened a lot.
It was those times when we gained our knowledge and grew the most.
Witnessing the passion my dad had for the industry and his remarkable skill as an artisan cutter, has contributed greatly to my skill, success, and passion.
This a such a big part of why I continue making cutting videos and sharing my knowledge and skills.
My dad lives on through me and one day I hope I can do the same for my son as my father did for me.

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

In today’s video, we showcase a gorgeous-looking nobby from the Wyoming Field in Lightning Ridge.
Fun Fact: I have been buying from the miner of this opal since Dad and I worked together.
The nobby showed a lot of promise — radiating with vibrant green and azure blue.
Although quite an enjoyable and relaxing cut, I felt like the better color was hiding much further down.
After giving it a nice little slice off the top, the color popped!
A cheeky bit of sand hindered the final carat weight, but I was able to get it out.

We finished with a gorgeous vibrant green dark opal with a floral and flagstone pattern.
From little things, big things grow.

1.38 ct dark opal 9.5×6.5×3.5mm

$1,400.00

https://youtu.be/MLVbNfE0x0I?si=rY9Wiz1zO-3rUK7s

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2 thoughts on “From Little Things, Big Things Grow”

  1. Always like to hear how immigrants get on when they come to this great country, especially as in your Dad’s case, it can be tough going for a start.

    Reply

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