I've long loved opals. They are fascinating and mysterious, and there's just such a huge variety of ways that silica can crystalize. When I was in high school I told my Dad I wanted an opal for my birthday, and we went to a store called Andamooka Opals in the Houston Galleria. He let me pick out two loose stones -- one black opal, and one crystal opal. I still have them.
Many years later, I came into a lump sum of cash -- my portion of the proceeds from a piece of jewelry my grandmother left to me and my sister. Somehow, I had the inspiration to invest that cash into opals. Since then I have been buying and selling opals, working my way up to buying nicer pieces.
My husband Martin couldn't resist becoming interested in these fabulous gems as well. But, Martin being Martin, he decided that the best way to grow my investment would be to buy opal in its rough form, and polish it myself. So last Christmas he made a lapidary so that we could polish our own stones. It is a two wheel lapidary so we can have two different grit of grinding wheels ready to go at any time. There is a water spigot that keeps water on the grinding stones.
We're just learning the basics of gem grinding and polishing. In fact, we took a class in May on cabochon cutting, which was a big help. We have both cut and polished several different types of stone, including jasper, koroit opal, and Ethiopian opal. I'm saving the rough Australian opal that I have for when I'm feeling more confident.
Soon I will post pictures of opals that we have cut and polished ourselves. Until then, here's a small selection of opals that I have bought (and probably sold): Opals
Look for opal resources on the Links page.