Thursday, January 27, 2011

Raw Opal Pendant

I am back! My poor computer has had so many pictures uploaded to it lately it was threatening to commit suicide. Scary.

Anyway, my other opal success has been a raw opal pendant I fabricated. While looking through the opal rough  saw two pieces of crystal opal that called out to me in their raw form. I listened to the opal and sliced the ends off the top crystal and got two nice little pieces. I needed a third piece so i took off the matrix on the middle rock and sliced it in half. What you see at the bottom is that same stone in two. The piece on the bottom right might be able to turn into a cab, but we will see about that later.

So I had my three stones still in their rough shape. At first I was planning on a bezel setting for them, but then I realized it would be well nigh impossible to get a smooth bezel around the stones with their odd, rough shapes. So I built baskets for each on out of wire. This meant creating a ring of wire to go around each stone, then sauder on four prongs.  After that I made the backing of the pendant and had to sauder all three baskets on the pendant without melting the baskets or accidently ruining the prongs. I did both. luckily the damage wasnt too back and i was able to fix both quickly. Once everything was saudered together I had to clean the piece and shine the whole thing. With so many nooks and crannies, it is a task. Finally, everything was ready for the opals to be set.

The end product:

Is it possible for rocks to feel organic?

This may be one of my favorite pieces to date. The fire in these three pieces is really great, that middle stone have a large area of red fire, while the top stone has more pin fire. I think I may be a fan of this Ethiopian opal. This particular opal is from an area called "Welo." Each of the areas mined in Ethiopia seem to have very disticnt characteristics. From   Keep an eye on the opal market, this stuff is pretty new but I suspect this is going the be pretty hot stuff in a few years. It will be interesting to see how stable it is: I have heard some saying it is as stable as Australian, and others saying it is completely unstable!

Right now the opal is mined by farmers, which means while the land isn't being torn up with big machines, few of the farmers have proper safety equiptment. There are a few people going to the mining areas teaching the farmers about mineing safety and providing hardhats tools. Hopefully the mining operations will remain small, but those opting to mine will be able to do so in a safe manner.

Where is your favorite opal from? Black opal from Austrailia? Fire opal from Mexico? Or do you like to keep it stateside with opal from Nevada?


  1. Beautiful work. Opal is one of my favorite stones, I love the colors that shine through.

  2. Omg would love this around my neck! Let me know if you ever sell it :-)