The starting point for loose opals!
Rough opal is the starting point in producing loose opals. I’ll usually buy a ‘parcel’ of rough opal unseen by myself. Yes, there will be descriptions and photographs and I learnt quickly that some pics don’t always show what you actually see… Unfortunately supplies of Australian opal tend to be out of this country so it’s a risk i have to take.
There is anticipation when you get home to a package on the doormat. Remembering what you’ve ordered, there follows a little apprehension, especially if it’s from a new supplier.
My parcels are usually made up of what looks like chips of stone or large gravel. Occasionally, I’ll get an individual piece or two if I happen to be looking for something in particular. Either way, quite often the contents will be wet so you can see at least some fire bar in parts of the stones. When dry, rough opal can look, well, rough! A little water gives an insight of it’s potential.
Sometimes the colour can be very hard to see even wet and your heart sinks with the thought that it’s just a pile of rock chips. Other times you let out a gasp. Pull a reading light close and you are welcomed into an Aladdin’s cave with glimpses of vibrant clear colour that appears to constantly flash and wink at you.
Whether the fire I’m chasing is hidden or gloriously on show, fissures and cracks can ruin a stone. Closely examining dry rough can help. Occasionally you come across a parcel that has had too much shock, either from heat or mining. Sometimes the flaws don’t show until a day or so after that final polish. After much cursing for not seeing it originally, you settle down and re cut it.