I have to start this month with an insight into the incredible stone that my husband has spent most of his life searching for and bringing to the surface to provide pleasure to those who eventually come to wear it. It also happens to be the birthstone for October AND is drawn from Mother Earth, which is what our months theme is!
Opal has a story that is 100 million years in the making. This illusive and incredible gemstone has captured the imaginations, fascinations and lives of miners, jewellers and lovers of colour for more than 100 years and has sustained communities across three states in Australia, consistently, for the same length of time.
I have to be honest and say that before I moved to Lightning Ridge, I had little interest and no knowledge of the stone, other than the memories of a hot and stinky trip to the place I now call home when I was a child…and the reminder of a wait in the car outside the Opal Cave whilst Mum and Dad chose the perfect remembrance of the trip. My Mum still has that stone.
And now I am in love with it, opal that is.
I could tell you yarns about all kinds of things…namely that the stone has magical healing properties or that, if worn close to the skin it can cure all ills – I am sure that there are people who believe these things – those and the superstition that Opal is bad luck (which the industry believes was a myth created way back in the day by the diamond industry…). Whatever your beliefs, or mine, what I do know for sure about this stone is that it is magical and that it dances in the sunlight and plays with your eyes. Its colour and vibrancy will bring a smile to your face and the whimsical patterns created within the stone reminiscent of days lying on your back looking up at the sky and making pictures in the clouds.
It is also addictive, for the miner. Much like a gambler or a shopaholic, it is the next big find that lures them and keeps them…and curiously, it is never about the money, only about the stone.
If opal were personified, I would liken her to the mythical Sirens who woos men to the sea with their incredible song, only to find that what awaits is a watery grave. But what a blissful journey it is!
I encourage you to seek out and find good opal and come to understand it.
It is our national gemstone and is also one of the most incredible things you will ever see.
We are building a national keeping house for this treasure…a place where the stories, imagery and proof of beauty will be held and preserved for all future generations. Why not join us on this mystery and allow yourself to be wooed…..