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Polishing 2.2kgs (5 pounds) of Andamooka opal

My biggest challenge ever doesn’t seem to be getting any easier! This massive chunk of Andamooka opal is the opal that finally beat me.

I have developed my skills in cutting opal over the last 30 years but I’ve never met an opal that’s challenged me like this one.

Sometimes it’s not that we don’t have the skills or the knowledge but that we just don’t have the right equipment! The opals I’m used to cutting are, at maximum, the size of a Ferrero Rocher (and just as delicious, in my opinion) so the tools I use just can’t cope with this megalith-like Andamooka opal.

So how will I tackle this piece?

Let’s see what I can do with the tools I have…

The quartz in between is much harder than the opal silica which is actually great for wearing out my new nova wheels. Conveniently, I have two new wheels that need to be worn in before I can cut opal on them as the ridges rip into the stone when fresh.

Let’s cut some of this hard quartz away while also wearing in my new wheels; two birds, one very big stone?

One thing I’m loving about this challenge is slowly revealing the glowing opal that is popping out of the edges of this rock. Its greens, oranges and blues glow like an alien campfire!

I manage to polish up some of the quartz and the glorious, glowing opal to smooth the surface out.

The challenge continues with this Andamooka opal chunk and until I solve it, it will be a specimen to display at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Trade Show. If you’re coming along, visit us to see the stone for yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

What would you do with this impressive chunk of opal?