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Aug/Sep 2003 Newsletter

Party At Surfer’s Paradise – Perfect Weather – The Australian Opal Exhibition – Marriott Hotel – is probably how it should have been advertised, because despite the jaw-dropping array of spectacular opal at the exhibition it’s the party that still lingers most in my memory. Billed as a "dinner" it was in fact such a good party I’m amazed that I remember it at all. Two hundred and fifty stalwart individuals out to have a good time, and succeeding admirably. Master of Ceremonies and lead reed player in the band, Frank Tyne, is to be congratulated.

The evening’s key speaker was Andrew Cody, of Cody Opal Pty. He and his brother Damien had recently returned from the world headquarters in Carlsbad, California, of the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). They, with the help of palaeontologist Jenni Brammall, have made it possible for the GIA to exhibit a portion of the National Opal Collection for the first time outside of Australia. This is the largest exhibition of opalized fossils to ever be shown in the United States. If you get a chance, don’t miss it! It’s on view at the S. Tasaki Student Lecture and Graduation Hall at GIA’s Robert Mouawad campus through January 2003. www.codyopal.com -and- jennibram@bigpond.com .

Andrew’s historical eulogy to his father was an emotional and educational journey through the saga of the opal industry in Australia. His speech and visual presentation had everyone turned on the edge of their seats . . . quite an accomplishment when "preaching to the converted". . . and was more interesting than the waiter with the spoon handle stuck up his nose, complaining that he’s never invited to cocaine parties. That guy was funnier than Andrew, but not as informative.

The Australian Opal Exhibition ran August 7-8-9 and is open to the trade only; the party was Friday the 8th. That meant I’d had two days to visit most of the booths in my search for "the opal I’d most like to see on my finger". After the first day of hearing myself continually repeat "wow, this is the one", I realised this would be no easy task . I decided to eliminate the 10ct.+ "Mulga Fires" from R&M Mansfield because it was last year’s winner. mansfieldopal@hotmail.com .

Having started looking at the presentation of Down to Earth Opals downtoearthopals@tpg.com.au I was immediately torn between these two beauties. I call them Vicki and Jenni. On the left, weighing in at 8.2ct from the Coocran field is Vicki. Jenni on the right is at 5.8ct and hails from the Kitty Hawke field. How to choose? The vivacious Vicki or the intriguing Jenni with the deep slice of floating red?

My next stop didn’t make things any easier. Here we see the usual dilemma at a crossroads.

From Flood Gems we have a great piece of boulder opal from Mt. Tighe. At 19.5ct it would make an impressive man’s ring. P.O.Box 103 Redbank, Queensland 4301. Phone the mine after 7pm at (07) 4658 8300.

Linda, seen above with Mario Antolovich of Mariora www.mariora.com.au , helped pick out this 8.7ct black opal wonder from the Coocran field. 20 x 11.6 x 5.4 mm.

Chris Price’s favourite ring stone was this 10.6ct Lightning Ridge black opal classic. Chris is at 181 Clarence St., suite 44, Sydney NSW 2000. Phone (02) 9279 0518.

Phil Rigby of Gopal Gems had this nifty pair of splits from Bull Creek, cut by the specialist boulder opal cutter Emmanuel NG. The pair weigh 20ct., and either one of them would make a nifty ring stone, but it would be a shame to separate the pair. gopalgems@optusnet.com.au .

Frank Tyne was a very busy man during the exhibition, so Keith Smith (on the left) took time out to help him with the words for a song Frank was working on for the party. It went something like this . . .

I call my baby Potch
Because she ain’t too bright
I dig her in the morning
And I rub her late at night.

I didn’t catch the rest of it because I was distracted by the arresting display of master electroformer Alan Thomson thomsondesign@optusnet.com.au . His treatment of the Quilpie boulder opal, whether as jewelry or corporate gift item, is unsurpassed.


So far I’d been looking mostly at color for my ring stone, but opal is more than color. One must also consider the pattern, and for pattern it’s hard to beat matrix opal from Koroit. As you can tell from the content of Stoned Opal, this is our favorite type of opal. The battle for King of Koroit stalls was between Outback Opal www.outbackopals.com pictured here with cutter Carsten Kelm and Ulrike Kalthaus, and this sci-fi piece from the Koroit 3 Mile and Opalink www.opalink.com.au .

Chris Good (right) said that the jewelry designer to the diplomats, Sue Ryan of Canberra, had bought out most of his ring stones. He presented this one (below), but Mark Hodges (center) thought it was too big. To the left stands Jo Lindsay of Lost Sea Opals www.lostseaopals.com.au who had a great stone. It was a long oval with 4 catseye diagonal stripes, but I couldn’t get a decent photo of it. This is definitely one I wanted on my finger.

Having considered two of the three ingredients for a proper opal, color and pattern, I now considered shape. There’s no doubt that in the entire Australian Opal Exhibition you didn’t have to look any further than the Quilpie Opal booth to see the #1 shape. quilpieopals.com.au .

I hope you can appreciate my dilemma. By party time I still hadn’t been able to see all I wanted to, and by the end of the party I wasn’t able to see very well at all. I found a whole new meaning for the word "doublet". After leaving the hotel we broke up into more manageable groups and descended upon the unwary expanse of nightclubs that helps give Surfer’s Paradise its reputation. They may have seen unruly football teams and the usual affray that accompanies late night revelry . . . but they’d never had 250 opal freaks hit them at once.

With a critical but bleary eye the search for the one I’d like to have on my finger continued on Saturday, the last day. And then Kyle Fickling of Barcoo Boulder Opal in Toowoomba (phone 07 4634 7142) showed me this 17.3ct piece of weirdness from Jundah, Queensland. Perhaps my judgement was jaded by substance abuse, but I picked this one as the winner. It’s not what I had in my pre-conceived mind, but when I put it on my finger and imagined a bit of gold work around it I was sold. Well, not literally. Kyle wanted $23,000 Australian for it, and my credit card was already maxed from buying in preparation for my trip to California and my 40th high school reunion on Oct.11.

I must take this opportunity to thank my hosts for this Exhibition sojourn : Mike Petelski and his lovely daughter Dianne. Mike owns Mygem peace@austarnet.com.au and is on the Exhibition committee. It was Mike who convinced me it was time to get up off of the casino floor and quit scooping into my pockets the entire rack tray of dollar coins that the cashier had just inadvertently dumped on me whilst cashing in my chips. Security was glad to see me leave. So eventually, I think, were Mike and Dianne when I finally boarded Monday’s plane back to Cairns and home. I can’t wait ‘til next year! You shouldn’t miss it either.


Past Newsletters: [Jun 2002] [Aug 2002] [Oct 2002] [Nov 2002] [Feb 2003] [Apr 2003]

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