The Lightning Ridge gem show went off without a hitch, the sun was bright but cold at night, with many people coming from all over. The all-around feeling that the gem show had was a nice easy going show. Some people were selling very well and others not so well. Some rumours say that one booth sold around $60,000. Not bad for an opal gem show.
The real talk of the town was Ethiopian rough opal being sold by some very nice Italians. The opal has been bought and experimented on by us over the weekend and we have come to the conclusion that it is very different from Lightning Ridge opal.
The makeup of the opal is somewhat fragile and crazing or cracking can happen on the cutting wheel or when left to dry out, Making the opal buyers a bit cautious to buy more than a test piece each. The color however is quite nice with some Jelly color-play being produced. Some pieces have turned white like chalk after being cut. But it hasn’t turned people off trying out different types of the opal
The sales however were good for the Italians. And they may be back next year.
The tourist’s operations here in the Ridge were at full tilt with many people taking tours despite the fact the school holidays were badly timed. Trevor Hudson From the Black Hand Underground Mine Tour said he is at full capacity.
A lot of people came down from the Queensland Boulder fields to sell their boulder opal. And people were saying there was more boulder opal here in Lightning Ridge than at the Quilpie Show a few weeks ago.
Most of the larger opal exporters came to Lightning Ridge to see old friends and not so much to do business. After speaking to quite a few dealers, they are scratching their heads wondering where this industry is going to turn to next.
On the opal front, a larger than usual quantity of opal was shown this year and most people are wondering where the opal is coming from since few people are actually mining. Top-quality opal although is very scarce with some bigger miners holding onto their gem-quality opal until the market picks up.
All the stalls have packed up now and are heading back to where they came from. With the number of people that we had in Lightning Ridge over the 4-day show, I would say that most people will be back next year.