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.