Famous Opals, Museum Artefacts, Name Stones & Collectable Jewels
Among the many magnificent gems crafted by the great lapidaries in Idar Oberstein Germany at the turn of the last century were some marvellous solid Boulder Opal Cameos. The cameo on the left remains in the private collection of Tully C. Wollaston’s descendants in South Australia.
Idar Oberstein or Kirschweiler was an Historic Opal Cutting Center and once the richest town in Rheinland-Pfalz, if not in all Germany, courtesy of imports of the magical gem from Australia.
The ecclesiastical tradition of having gems set into holy objects pre-dates the Australian Opal fields. In fact the Catholic Archdiocese of Olomouc possesses 5 pontifical rings set with gem crystal opals, some or all of these stones may well be Australian opals which have replaced stones originally found in the ancient mines of Dubnik in Czechoslavakia.
This Monstrance, set with 4 White Opals and 2 Black Opals, was made from jewellery donated by Brisbane Catholics for the Cathedral of the Holy Name in 1928. Now housed at St Stephens Cathedral Brisbane, it features on the cover of 'Not just Ned: A true history of the Irish in Australia' published in 2012.
In 1909 the Reverend Hutton-Sams, known as the Fighting Parson came to the Saint Andrews Bush Brotherhood in Longreach outback Queensland. Whilst in the region he collected opal, he was a great sportsman and was extremely proud of his Winton boys for their boxing ability. Rev Hulton-Sams enlisted in the English army in 1914 and was killed at Hooge in Flanders on July 21,1915. His fiancé Alice, had a piece of Jundah opal cut into 5 oval shaped opals which were set around the base of a silver chalice, which is still at the Church of England in Longreach Queensland.
|The Mining Museum in Sydney has a superb collection of White Cliffs Opal pseudomorphs which were left to it by a well known and highly respested Opal buyer, Mr Ted Murphy (pictured: 2nd from right). This collection is probably unique in the world.|
The Ceremonial Scissors used to cut the ribbon at the official opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the 19th of March 1932 are encrusted with six striking Opals and were made by Angus & Coote jewellers of Sydney. These regal scissors were used again 60 years later to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel on the 29th of August 1992. They were again used for the opening of the Glebe Island Bridge on the 3rd of December 1995.
Eric a 110 million year old Opalised Pliosaur is housed at the Australian museum in Sydney NSW. This remarkable skeleton was found in 1987 by Joe Vida at Coober Pedy SA. In 1993 a public appeal raised funds to purchase Eric and keep him in the country. Laws have since been enacted to curtail the export of such fossil heritage.
The ‘Rose’ is a mystical Queensland Boulder Opal touchstone. This miraculous specimen was found at ‘Jerry’s Mine’ Palparrara and remains in the collection of its finder Jerry Doktor.
One of the largest precious Opals ever found in the world. The ‘Olympic Australis’ was found in Coober Pedy South Australia in 1956. That same year Australia hosted the Olympic Games in Melbourne, fittingly the stone which weighs 17,000 carats (3.4 kilograms), is in the collection of Altmann & Cherny of Melbourne.
‘Halley’s Comet’ - A massive Nobby (rough Black Opal) the size of a man’s fist was found at Lightning Ridge on November 3rd 1986. Noted in The Guinness Book of World Records as ‘The world’s largest gem uncut Black Opal’, it currently weighs 1982.50 carats, its dimensions are 100x66x63cm and it was for sale with an asking price of AUD$1.2m.
The famous 'Galaxy' stone is a marvellous 550 carat (11cm x 9cm) palm sized gem Boulder Opal found in October 1989, at Opalville Mine No. 135 near Jundah Queensland, by Josip Grguranic aka. Jundah Joe or Silky Joe. It is reported to have been valued at $1.2 million.
Also found near Jundah in 1988 was the majestic 'Mariora Star' another magnificent black boulder gem of 60.74 carats.
Joe mined this area for nearly a quarter of a century and was a prolific producer of red and patterned Opal.
The 'Virgin Rainbow’ is a rare Black Crystal Opal belemnite fossil or 'pipe', it is eye-clean and 63mm in length. This incredibly luminous gem was mined at Brown's Folly (3 Mile) field by long time Coober Pedy Opal miners John Dunstan and his partner Steve Jagar, in September 2003.
The 72.65 carat gemstone featured in the four part documentary ‘Opal Fever’ for the ABC Reality Bites documentary series.
Enclosed in a thick red sandstone crust, with only a tiny tip exposed, it could easily have been missed. Luckily it was recovered with the aid of fluorescent light in the noodling machine.
Sources & Image Credits:
A FIELD GUIDE TO AUSTRALIAN OPAL, Barry O'Leary, 1977.(Ted Murphy collection of Opal pseudomorphs)
A HISTORY OF JEWELLERY: 1100-1870, Joan Evans, 1970 (2nd Ed.). (Sir Francis Drake - English fashion after 1573)
http://alaintruong.canalblog.com/ (imperial presentation ring, table, scent vessel)
AMAZING CARTIER: JEWELLERY DESIGN SINCE 1937, Nadine Coleno, 2009.
ANCESTRAL JEWELS, Diana Scarisbrick, 1989. ( 1.Queen Mary, 2. Cheapside hoard, 1690 Schedule at Burghley House)
A JOURNEY WITH COLOUR Vol II Part B, A HISTORY OF LIGHTNING RIDGE, Len Cram, 2004.(Dunstan's Stone)
BEAUTIFUL OPALS - AUSTRALIAS NATIONAL GEM, Len Cram, 1994.
DUBNICKY OPAL, Maros Barok & Peter Semrad, 2001.
CROWN JEWELS OF IRAN, V.B.Meen & A.D. Tushingham, 1968.
GEMS: THE WORLD'S GREATEST TREASURES & THEIR STORIES, Bernhard Graf, 2001. (Walter von der Vogelweide)
HILTON AUSTRALIA Vol.2 No.4 summer Issue 1987/88, Article: 'Opals - Australia's National Gem' by E. Gregory Sherman
HOLLYWOOD JEWELS, Penny Proddow Debra Healy & Marion Fasel, 1992.
JEWELRY 7000 YEARS, Hugh Tait (ed), 1991. (Grenville Jewel)
JEWELLERY FROM THE RENAISSANCE TO ART NOUVEAU, Claude Fregnac, 1965.
http://www.khm.at/en/treasury/highlights/gemstones-jewellery-and-commemorative-pieces/ (Egger Bros for Princess Stephanie)
LAPIDARY JOURNAL, Article 'Crown of Charlemagne', June Culp Zeitner, May 1983.
LA BRETONNE, Henri Vever:
LETTERS TO ERIC, Judith Smith & Dr. Alex Ritchie, 1993.
MAGNIFICENT TIFFANY SILVER, John Loring, 2001.(Paulding Farnham Vases)
OPAL - THE PHENOMENAL GEMSTONE, Lithographie, 2007. (Stephanie's Parure)
PAULDING FARNHAM TIFFANY"S LOST GENIUS, John Loring, 2000. (Tiffany's opal encrusted silver holloware)
PETER CARL FABERGE GOLDSMITH & JEWELLER TO THE RUSSIAN COURT HIS LIFE & WORK, Henry Bainbridge, 1967.
REDISCOVER OPALS IN AUSTRALIA, Stephen Aracic, 1999.
ROYAL JEWELS; FROM CHARLEMAGNE TO THE ROMANOVS, Diana Scarisbrick, Christophe Vachaudez & Jan Walgrave, 2008.
ROYAL TREASURES, Erich Steingraber, 1968. (Drinking Cup in the Prado)
THE DESIGNS OF ARCHIBALD KNOX FOR LIBERTY & CO., A.J. Tilbrook, 1995. (Cigar Box)
THE GREAT BOOK OF JEWELS, Ernst A. & Jean Heiniger, 1974.
THE FABERGE CASE, John Traina, 1998.
TIFFANY COLOURED GEMSTONES, John Loring, 2007.
TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF STUART DEVLIN IN LONDON, The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, 1983.
YARD: THE LIFE & MAGNIFICENT JEWELRY OF RAYMOND C. YARD, Natasha Kuzmanovic, 2007.
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