Provenance [was: Biwa Pearls]

I also think there is a confusion in terms here. The opal from
Lightening Ridge is its source or origin. Provenance refers to the
history of, say, a painting or other work of art. Its history, who
owned it, etc. To use the term provenance in reference to opal rough
is inappropriate. KPKelly

Dear Mark,

Your anecdote about the Lightning Ridge Opal is a beautiful
illustration of how generalizations will usually have exceptions ! We
have all made mistakes in buying and I am sure that we will make
more. However, the idea that there is a panacea for risk avoidance
while still availing ourselves of good buying opportunities is
probably antithetical. I once bought an outstanding Mexican Opal
rough and waited for six months before cutting it into a cabochon.
The cut stone remained in my shop for many months until a customer
asked me to make a piece of jewelry for him using the opal cab. He
wanted to know whether I would stand behind the stone and I told him
that I would garantee it for a year. In the twelfth month he returned
with a cracked opal and I had to give him a full refund. Fortunately,
in the many years that I have been in the business, I have had very
few experiences involving stone failure. I will say, however, that
the overwhelming majority of my bad experiences involved Opal and, it
didn’t make any difference what its provenance was…any Opal from
any mine or locale can fail ! The least stable of them all are the
Virgin Valley, Nev. Opals…but, when you do have a good one ,
chances are that it is a knockout !

Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

 To use the term provenance in reference to opal rough is
Not so! The full provenenance of an opal parcel is:
What field is it from?
Who mined it?
When was it mined?
How deep was it taken?
How has it been treated since being mined?
What is the reputation of the field in question?
What is the reputation of the DEALER in question?

The term “provenance” applies to anything with a history that makes
an impact on value. MTR

Dear KP Kelly, Close, but no cigar ! Provenance does ,indeed ,mean
origin and can apply to anything…I suggest you go to your
dictionary and look up the provenance of provenance…(you’ll
find that it has French provenance !) The fact that the Antique Road
Show uses the term to segue into quaint family anecdotes about who
and when an item was owned by a series of successors is actually
totally irrelevant to provenance…it just makes for interesting dialogue.
Ron at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos,CA.

I have gone to my dictionary: “Websters Third International”; and the
definition given is origin. So, if we’re talking about origin why not
simply use that word. The “Antique Road Show” uses the term provenance
in its generally accepted usage. Ron, I’ve read your posts with great
interested and learned from them. But in this case you’re wrong.