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Natural Gemstone Jewellery with a Fashion Twist

Natural Gemstone Jewellery with a Fashion Twist

Posted by Therese Brown on 28th Jan 2021

Opal has become more inclusive in the general fashion sense since the launch of the Opal Art range in 2000.

The Opal Art range is the brainchild of Rick and Therese Brown; boulder opal cutters since 1982.

The development of the Opal Art range changed the preconception that opal was always exclusive and expensive. Which at the time it was, because only high quality opal was considered marketable.

Rick and Therese Brown – Boulder Opal cutters since 1982

As boulder opal cutters and artisans, Rick and Therese trusted in their belief that the lower grade raw boulder opal was beautiful in its own right and had a place in the market. They set up a factory, trained more cutters, and began to develop the Opal Art range with a view to move boulder opal from being exclusive to jewellery stores into other marketplaces creating a “hang sell” range for fashion, souvenir and gift stores all over Australia. This concept gave everyone access to natural boulder opal jewellery at affordable prices.

What is Boulder Opal?

Boulder opal is a unique type of opal that is only found in Queensland, Australia.

Map of Australia showing where OPAL is found.

The defining feature of boulder opal is ROCK; that is, ironstone/sandstone.

The opal is trapped as veins within this rock.

Raw Boulder Opal Rock The opal is trapped in veins in the rock

Cutting a boulder opal gemstone requires the cutter to remove the host rock from one side of the vein to expose the opal ‘face’. As the opal vein is very thin the rock is left on the underside and the finished gemstone presents with an opal face hosted by rock. This is called a SOLID opal even though it is a combination of rock and opal. The bond between the two is natural, and so is the colour.

What is the Opal Art range?

In the past, leaving some of the rock on the opal face was not considered marketable. As a result, boulder opal that did not cut a clean face was discarded or considered only suitable for mineral specimens.

The classic way of cutting boulder opal gemstones: small, free shape, clean face, gem grade colour .

Rick and Therese took a more artistic view of the opal and rock combination rather than just the gem only perspective and began to cut pieces that were more artistic and scenic in nature.

The Opal Art way of cutting boulder opal: free shape capturing the scenic nature of the opal

This appealed to many customers who were not in the market for expensive gem quality opal yet still desired to own an opal.

The Opal Art range catered for these customers as it consisted of a wide range of free shape boulder opal pendants albeit a combination of opal and rock which were hung from an adjustable leather cord necklace. The look was natural and unique and the price affordable.

What sets the Opal Art range apart?

Cutting opal is not an automated process.

Every opal is cut individually by hand (and eye).

As experienced cutters Rick and Therese have cut many thousands of Opal Art necklaces since 2000 and for that reason, they know what works.

Shape is a defining feature of the range.

“When we cut the opals for the Opal Art range we look for shapes that have balance, symmetry and unity and for that reason the Opal Art necklaces not only look good but feel good too!” Therese…

SHAPE is a defining feature of the Opal Art range. Balance, symmetry, and unity are integral.

Nothing leaves the workshop unless they are happy with the finish and that, in a nutshell, is what sets the Opal Art range apart!

Cutting the Opal Art Necklaces

It all begins with a trip out to the opal fields located in Central Queensland, Australia.

Rick picking up the opals with a couple of miners.

A couple of times a year Rick and Therese travel out to the opal fields to buy raw opal from the miners to bring back to their workshop on the coast to process.

Rick on the saw The workshop Therese on the sander

Processing involves:

Sorting the raw boulder opal rocks into cutters and specimen.

Breaking the large raw boulders down and cutting off the opals faces into slices.

Shaping the slices into pendant pieces and sanding them.

Finishing the pendant pieces with a polytop (a polymer seal) to protect the opal and promote longevity.

Drilling a small hole from front to back into the finished pendant pieces.

Attaching an adjustable leather cord or sterling silver top to make a necklace.

Photographing the Opal Art necklaces for the webstore.

Natural Opal Jewellery with a fashion twist.

The Opal Art necklaces are universal in appeal.

They appeal to people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Dress them up, dress them down; wearing an Opal Art necklace compliments any style.

The rhetoric often heard by Opal Art wearers is… “what is that gemstone?”

Each of the Opal Art necklaces are different, defining and as unique as the people who wear them.

Afina – uptown girl Frances – musician Tina – installation artist

Metaphysical properties of Opal

Besides looking good the Opal Art necklaces feel good too!

In New Age thinking opal is said to balance emotion, foster creativity, and work on the chakras in line with the colours that present in each piece.

For Example:

Blue aligns with the throat chakra and is associated with communication and expression.

Green aligns with the heart chakra and is associated with prosperity, renewal, and change. 

As opal is all about colour the choices are numerous.

For more information on the New Age properties of opal go to:

Natural Opal – Natural People

Make a statement with an Opal Art necklace and make a statement on style.

Natural gemstone jewellery with a fashion twist!