Dig This – Opal’s Colorful Journey – Life in the Facet Lane

by Diana Jarrett GG RMV

by Diana Jarrett GG RMV

Precious opal has been holding fans spellbound for centuries. The gemstone is unique in more ways than its kaleidoscopic appearance. This stone actually contains up to 10 percent water by weight. But it’s not unheard of for opal to have up to 20 percent water, either. The mesmeric play of colors for which opal is revered is due to its microscopic silica spheres which create its rainbow hues.

When people get the opal bug, it often bites deep. Take miner and designer John Ternus for example. Opal Guy John has been mining opal in Australia for over 35 years. The finest of the fine is said to occur in the famed Lightning Ridge deposits of New South Wales, bordering Queensland.

Opal Mining

Underground opal mining with hydraulic rotary head digger; Courtesy: John Ternus, Opal Guy

It is also where stable black opal is found. Black opal’s deep opaque tone creates a dramatic contrast for vibrant colors to dance across the face of these majestic jewels.

Ternus has a definite miner’s love for these marvels. “I am continually amazed at the varieties of opal colors in proximity to each other and in combination with the same stone,” he revealed.

After all these years he’s still enchanted by each find in these remote deposits. “In mining, I have found black crystal opal with red and green color-play next to root beer brown body color opal. Trying to imagine what was going on with the geological events that came to form the opal is fascinating.” Besides their intrinsic beauty, each opal is distinct in shape, size and color combination. And that aspect has endeared them to both art lovers and devotees of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.

Opal and diamond ring in yellow gold; Courtesy: John Ternus, Opal Guy

Opal and diamond ring in yellow gold; Courtesy: John Ternus, Opal Guy

“Opals are all different and their variety is astounding,” he said. “They are like people, each with their own personality. When I look at an opal,” Ternus confides, “It’s easy to believe that there is a greater power at work in the universe that would gift such treasures like these stones.”

The Naples fashionista makes an alluring muse for these naturally exotic stones. It’s our kind of understated elegance.

Contact Diana Jarrett at diana@dianajarrett.com and read color-n-ice.blogspot.com

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