Coolangatta, (PressExposure) May 10, 2012 -- For Immediate Release:
Contact: Peter of http://www.opalmine.com
So, why aren't you an Opal Miner? I asked Peter Brusaschi, long time opal lapidarist, designer, and dealer. "Dirt!... That's the problem..too much dirt mixed up with the stones." Peter retorted
Peter was tempted to start digging in the hot western Queensland sun, 40 years ago. In fact he made a lame attempt at a mine west of Cunnamulla for a brief time but the same old problem surfaced. Too much dirt.. not enough opal.
"You have to be really dedicated to be an opal miner" Peter continued. "In fact if you are married you have to have the full cooperation of your wife and family and it takes a special lady to stick to it in these outback areas.. but believe me, there are a lot of amazing women out there who have supported their husbands stubbornly until they moved enough dirt to find the gems."
I asked Peter why you would bother to live under such conditions, suffering the dust, flies, and heat grovelling around underground chipping away at the 'coal face' looking for signs of something a bit more inspiring than the whitish caramel colored clay that is the prospective home of these much sought after gems.
"Haaa...well you could say money of course! And it's true that you only have to find one of these magnificent opals with enough color sitting on a black background to retire early, if you are lucky enough. But some have been digging for 30 years without finding much. Opal mining is not like finding a body of coal, copper, or iron ore, the other metals in demand here in Australia and are found in large deposits in one area. You can dig a hole the size of a large dam without finding a trace. But searching for opal is a bit like finding gold. There's more to it than dollar signs. 'Opal Fever' describes it aptly."
Totally fascinated with this brief look into how some people make a living in outback Australia, I pressed Peter for more information. Next question:
"What do you do when you find a chunk of opal? How is it processed and what ends up happening with it." The answer was automatic.
"It's turned into jewelry of course, or 'jewellery' as folks from mother England spell it. It migrates from the opal fields into small workshops like mine where it's sliced with diamond blades, ground with diamond or carborundum grinding wheels, sanded with either rubberized diamond wheels or wet and dry sandpaper, then polished with either Tin or Cerium oxide." Said Peter
"But that's just the beginning!" Peter continued. "When it gets out of my hands it's taken over by the jewelry specialists who use my designs to create all sorts of wonderful jewelry mainly for the ladies but also for guys or blokes as we say in Oz. Opal pendants, Opal Rings, Opal earrings, Opal bracelets, Opal Watches Opal cuff links and tie tacks, Opal Bolas. The list is just about endless. You can even make amazing wall tiles out of the cheaper material. Nothing is wasted from the $20,000 per carat multiple color black or boulder opal, to the slither of white or crystal opal."
Suddenly it started to dawn on my why people would grovel in the ground. In fact I'm finding myself dreaming about the outback from time to time. But considering family responsibilities as a single dad caring for a little girl, I had better fall in with Peter's decision regarding the dirt factor in case I catch 'opal fever' never to return to civilization.
Petren Products Pty Ltd
P.O. Box 512.,
Coolangatta. Qld, 4225
ph +61 755 999 900
ph +61 414 950 914