Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Tale of Two Opals

Daughter #2 has an Etsy business selling beautiful rock specimens, called Phenomenal Gems.

The Brick and I share an interest in rocks, as well, and spent some time in Tucson, AZ with Daughter and her partner Keith. For those of you who don't understand that significance -- every year in Jan/Feb, Tucson has a citywide rock show. Hundreds of businesses open up in malls and hotel rooms around the city, offering all sorts of rocks and jewelry, as well as related tools, embellishments...even items like furniture and doors, all having something to do with ROCKS.
     It can be hot and tiring, but there's nothing like finding a beautiful piece at just the right price. I buy a lot of charms and beads there too, for Brickworks customers and students.

This year while wandering in Tucson, the Brick and I came across a vendor of semi-precious Ethiopian opals. These come in a variety of colors -- but I'm particularly caught by their golden shades. The stones are sold from a vat of water. Why? Because when wet, the opals tend to stay clear. If they dry, they may or may not remain that way.
     We bought two large stones: a golden one, and a chocolaty one. Here they are, still wet.

Opal #1:

The golden version is called a "Welco" opal. I love that color...

...and side two. Iridescent in places.
Opal #2:

The "Memezo" opal -- almost a caramel shade

Side two of the Memezo opal...that gunky stuff gradually is scraped off

We kept both opals in water for weeks, debating. Should we take them out...or not? Charley had his own wonderings about it all.

Gee, Mom and Dad...it's just a ROCK. How about some pancakes?

The 'let it dry' argument won. At first, it seemed to be working:

But as the days went by, both rocks developed "crazing." (sigh)

Now, months later, both opals show even more crazing than these photos. Darn darn darn. I keep them on the windowsill  anyway, a reminder that even flawed things still have beauty.

Phenomenal Gems has some gorgeous opals, including Ethiopian, Australian, Mexican fire opals and grainy Andomooka opals. Take a look here.  (The Ethiopian golden opal at PG is a good one to compare to the Welco piece shown here. Only PG's gem doesn't have crazing -- lucky for it.)

You'll also enjoy this look at  Eight worlds inside an opal.

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