Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Opals

It is my firmly held belief that no Opal has ever been tastefully set. Not one. It just hasn't happened. And I have spent a great deal of time searching for evidence to the contrary. A friend claims to have once come across a beautiful Opal ring in a vintage store, but by the law of Photos Or It Didn't Happen, her evidence is sadly inadmissible.

Anyway, this tweet from The Cut recently sent my Opal fiending into overdrive - and it's no coincidence that the Lightning Ridge Opal pictured is a loose stone.

Before I continue, apologies to anyone who knows anything about gems or jewellery - what follow are but the musings of an ignoramus... but I wonder if my general aversion to Opal jewellery (as opposed to just the stones themselves, which I adore) is in part due to the fact that Opals seem always to be cut either in a cabochon shape or otherwise are left looking a little rough. The former style has certainly not been in fashion for some time but I think we're due for a comeback - indeed, for me cabochon-cut gems invariably evoke memories of trips to Terrific Scientific (Sydney kids come geddit) and the subsequent purchasing of mood rings. If that ain't primo 90s revival juice, I don't know what is.

But then there are also the unfortunate associations with Australian souvenir tackery. The horror of the gem-bellied silver koala pendant and its cousin, the dolphin charm bracelet has done much to tarnish the Opal's reputation. And yet I must admit that there are some forms of Australiana, specifically the type that depicts native flora and fauna, that I find tremendously appealing. Take for example the botanical illustrations of Ferdinand Bauer:

I once attempted to create a fabric print using his illustrations, and would love to see the idea executed by a more skilled hand.

Then of course there's the often brilliant work of Romance Was Born. Though I found their earlier use of May Gibbs' heavenly Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie illustrations a little too literal, their latest collection, "Cooee Couture" is exhilarating and beautiful.

Long live the label's collaboration with Linda Jackson: