Cutting a customer’s tricky rough opal

My customer returned this tricky rough opal parcel after he decided he wasn’t comfortable cutting it himself. So, I cut it for him.

I rarely ever cut other peoples opal, but I couldn’t say no to this tricky rough opal parcel. The suspense of this one is going to have your opal-loving heart thumping.

Agreeing to cut someone else’s rough opal is about as rare as rocking horse doo-doo for me. I rarely have the time, and it’s harder to take risks when it’s not your opal. If those risks don’t pay off, you’ve got to answer to someone else.

Fortunately, this customer was comfortable in me taking risks and agreed to let me cut this tricky rough opal parcel on camera for him, and you, to see.

Assessing the parcel

If you’ve watched my channel before, you know assessing your opal is the first step. It’s also the step I go back to throughout the cutting process. Opal changes with every layer ground away; it’s about as unpredictable as my stomach after spicy lentil dahl, but that’s also what we love about it.

Which side will face better? Where is the color? Where does it end? I go on to check for cloudy patches, sand spots, inclusions, or hairline fractures in the opal.

A rough piece in this parcel surprises me with two gorgeous color bars in what I thought would be a simple cut.

Another piece makes a liar out of me twice when my predictions are wrong, and I’m left with a massive dilemma. Three separate color bars and three possible stones. What do I risk?

This parcel turns out to be much trickier than I imagined and I face an impossible choice; do I risk the excellent color I have for the chance at more? Do I gamble this gorgeous green flash for the chance at something better?

It’s not my opal, what should I do?

… Alright, I’m going in.

*pause for dramatic emphasis*

Okay, I’m not going to leave you on the edge of the cliff like that.

Say goodbye to that gorgeous green broad flash…

… And hello, blue-green asteria, flagstone and windmill pattern.

I know that it killed some of you to see that color ground down and washed away, but I think it was worth it. Now we have a much larger cushion cut stone with more valuable patterns.

You can see that there’s a lot of risk in cutting rough opal. I got lucky today and my customer will be very happy.

One final piece

I cleaned up the last piece of this tricky rough opal parcel to see where the color bars go; taking off the sand and slicing as needed to get the best value out of the stone possible.

This piece of rough had some beautiful color on both sides, and I had to choose which side to focus on. My main priority is on color, inclusions, and size. I want to get the best value out of each rough opal piece as possible.

Sometimes you have to forgo some beautiful color to end up with a bigger or better gem.

The end results

The best piece of the bunch is the final rough piece I worked on, coming in as a 15 carat rub with beautiful color and broad flash pattern across the whole stone. Then there was the larger cushion cut, the triangle, another cushion cut, and four more rubs.

Make sure to watch until the end to see my valuation. Would you be happy with this result if you were this customer?

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