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August 2002 Newsletter

The Australian Opal Exhibition was held on the first, second, and third of this month at the Marriott Hotel in Surfer's Paradise, Queensland. This is the first time in history that all of the Australian opal fields were represented together under the same roof. There was one exhibition room that was open to the public for viewing only (no sales), and one that was open to the trade only (lots of sales!).

Every aspect of Australia's national gemstone was on display. Kilos of rough material from Lambina, Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy, most of the Queensland fields . . . and more. There were 53 stalls and before the show was over 40 had re-booked again for next year (Aug. 5,6, and 7 in 2003 at the Surfer's Paradise Marriott Hotel).

The range of cut stones and jewelry was boggling. Enough to ransom a few kings. The single highest price paid for one stone was $55,000 U.S. Every price range was catered for, but there were enough ring stones over $10,000 to fill a top hat. If you're in the gemstone/jewelry trade you should make it a must-see for next August. If you're not in the trade, find a friend who is and see if you can attend under their wing. I've been playing with opal for 30 years and have never seen anything like it. A feast for the eyes.

These discerning viewers were impressed with this wall made entirely of cutable boulder opal, on display to the public, along with the opalised wood below.

This giant boulder opal was on display for the public.

Mick Petelski of Mygem Pty.Ltd.(P.O.Box 305 Nerang, Qld.4211. Phone 61 07 5596 5338) had extensive range of 14kt and 18 kt gold jewelry, featuring top fire boulder opals, like this little group of red-flash pendants.

Mick Petelski was showing a number of top fossils, like this 44 carat belemnite pipe. Belemnites are the organic remains of extinct fossil bodies, having straight tapering shells. They're cephalopods from the Jurassic and Cretaceous formations. Mick is one of the people responsible for putting on The Australian Opal Exhibition.

Here's another of Mick's great fossils, a 78 carat opalised snail shell, over 10 million years old.

Cody Opal (Australia) Pty.Ltd. (email: opal@codyopal.com Website: www.codyopal.com) had a fabulous display of mostly Lightning Ridge black opal, like this 28 carat beauty from the Coocoran field. Cody Opal is also currently exhibiting a portion of the National Opal Collection from Australia at the GIA's Robert Mouawad campus in Carlsbad, California, USA. Focusing mainly on opalised fossils, the exhibit will remain on view there through January 2003.

R & M Mansfield, opal miners (email: mansfieldopal@hotmail.com) had some real show-stoppers, like this 10 carat black opal from Mulga (above) and this 38 carat black (below).

"Mineshaft" owns the Rainbow & Friday Creek II opal mines (email: mineshaft@webone.com.au) and had some great opal on display . . . but also some unusual treasures and specimens like this piece of agate carved by Erwin Pauly.

Chris Price (mobile: 0419 297 330) was serving up the breakfast of champions: bowls full of Lightning Ridge ring stone. Black, semi-black, crystal, etc., all looking good enough to eat.

S.M. Services Pty.Ltd.(phone: 07 5533 8144) had an extensive representation of boulder opal from Winton, Queensland, like this 34 carat blue.

Paul Barker Opals (mobile: 0412 722 015 email: Opalbark@optusnet.com.au) displayed this "pineapple" on a great slab of carnelian agate.

Tom Kapitany B.Sc of "Crystal World" (www.crystal-world.com) was there with the shows most extensive range of fossils and opal specimen, like this 4" x 3" specimen of polished Queensland matrix opal.

Another of Tom Kapitany's wonders, this giant lump of copal from New Zealand that trapped a tree gheko 100,000 years ago.

Hynagain Mining Pty.Ltd. (phone: 61 2 6829 0325 email: mstrasek@bigpond.com) had an impressive collection of black opal, mostly from the Wyoming Field (about 12 kilometers from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia).

Ken and Liz Willis of Floodgem (P.O.Box 103 Redbank, Qld.4301 Mobile: 0428 181 609) had a nice collection of boulder opal specimens and ring stones. Ken's story of finding these "floaters" is a beauty . . . he's still looking for the mother rock they came from. I've got a hunch he'll find it.

Kondor Opal (info@kondoropals.com) was my pick for the #1 boulder opal stall. This picture doesn't do them justice. The green stone in the center is what a Muslim might call a Kidder Stone (or, Kidder Batu). It shows that green bright light even when you put in into the shadows. It came from Duck Creek, found by Ian Simmons and cut by Troy Rafferty. The other stones are from Opal Creek and are the work of Rod Quinert (except for the top left stone, which is Joe Toronto's).

Sunrise Opals has a great website at www.sunriseopals.com where you can see some of the stock they brought to The Australian Opal Exhibition. This was my favorite landscape picture stone of the show, named "Western Dream" by Sandy Hodges. Found at Kyabra, it's about 7 by 4 inches.

B & J Mining (P.O.Box 4022 Gumdale, Qld.4154 Phone/Fax: 61 07 3390 5272) were showing this great hunk of a boulder specimen (polished by Alan Thomson) named "The Rock", and found at Bull Creek Opal Mine, Quilpie, Qld.

Australian Desert Gems (email: australiandesertgems@dodo.com.au) had a stall of nothing but the best. Also took the prize for the top selling single stone at The Australian Opal Exhibition with this beauty, mined by Jim Robinson, 50 carats, 32 x 40 x 6 mm. and called "The Desert Butterfly"

Down to Earth Opals (email: downtoearthopals@tpg.com.au) takes out my award for the best black opal stall. Peter and Vicki did a great job on their display. Dazzling. The photo doesn't do the stones justice.

Lightning Ridge Opal Company(email: Iroc@lightningridge.net.au) had some great black opal, but I chose this as my favorite because of the artistry and work involved. A picture mosaic of the Sydney Opera House ( a little smaller than a business card ).

Alan & Vernetta Thomson are a multi-talented team. I've featured here just one aspect: Alan's mastery of electroforming and specialisation in boulder opal.(36A Arthur St. Toowoomba, Qld.4350 phone: 61 07 4638 0804)

You'll be happy as a clam if you attend next year's show. The Australian Opal Exhibition will be held Aug. 5, 6, &7 at the Marriott Hotel, Surfer's Paradise, Queensland. Contact Frank Tyne at P.O.Box300 Helensvale, Qld. 4212 or phone on 07 55026410 or mobile 0409 106613

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