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In 1975, after graduating from college, and only being 23 years old and adventuresome, I went to live in Melbourne, Australia for two years. There I obtained my first social worker job in a suburban city of Melbourne (The City of Keilor). Prior to leaving for Australia, my mother was quite distraught that she wouldn’t be seeing her “baby” for two years (I’m the youngest of six children).
In an attempt to console her, I asked Mom what I could send her while I was in Australia. She stated that she heard Australia was known for its beautiful opal gemstones, and if it didn’t cost too much I could get her one. Mom was about 60 years old at the time and never had owned a piece of opal jewelry even though it happened to be her birthstone. So before her next birthday came up, I went on a mission to find her an opal in Melbourne.
At that time, I didn’t know the difference between an opal and a car called an Opel! Anyway, when I found them I was absolutely taken in by them even though prior to this I had no attraction to any kind of jewelry or gemstones. As they say I was “bit by the opal bug!” I then bought Mom an opal and sent it to her for her birthday. According to Dad, she shed a “few” tears when she received it.
She had it made into a ring and cherished it for the rest of her life. After Mom passed away in 2002, her opal ring was given to one of her granddaughters who just happened to be born in the same month and year (October, 1976) that I bought an opal for Mom. Mom’s granddaughter, and my niece, shed a “few” tears when she received her grandmother’s opal ring, and now fondly remembers her grandmother when she wears her opal ring.
Because each individual opal is so unique and different than any other opal, I see that people who have a piece of opal jewelry handed down to them from a loved one seem to have a stronger memory of the person they received it from. I often tell people buying opal jewelry that opals are like people: you know one when you see one but their all uniquely different! This is what I see is the dazzling difference between opal and any other gemstone!
After coming back to the United States from Australia, I couldn’t get the beauty of opals out of my mind. Eventually, I started up my business known as “Australian Opals” and as they say, “the rest is history.” Since about 1996, I have been attending local weekend gem shows in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Area. During the Holidays I have my business open for an extended period of time and advertise on the local TV stations to let people know of a great alternative gift to give to a loved one on Christmas.
In September, 2010, I retired from being a full time child protection social worker for the previous 30+ years. Prior to retiring, I also operated my business while holding down a full time job. Somewhat exhausting! But now that I’m retired, I can really focus on scratching that itch that I received many years ago from being bit from the opal bug!!
Every experience that I've had with 'Australian Opals' has been exemplary! I love knowing that I have a one of a kind opal and jewelry that were hand crafted just for me. I always look forward to seeing John and looking at all of his new pieces, every opal he has is amazing flash of color, light and beauty. I also know that if I have any questions about my jewelry, John is only a short email or phone call away, willing to do his best to answer my questions. I know that I will have a lifetime of happiness with the jewelry that John has helped me create. -
Ps. I love my new bracelet!! It is a little bigger than I wanted, what do you suggest we do? Have me come out to one of the Harmar shows and resize it?
Products: Jewelry and Loose Opals are very beautiful. I always look at all his items I want to buy the Opals with the Fire in them. They are a 10 out of a 10 in my opinion. Very Fine.
Value: The prices are reasonable. No problem. Opals are like Diamonds
Customer Service: John went out of his way to help me in many of my purchases. Custom made rings that he designed. Crystal Opal Bracelet that he helped me with. He is excellent in customer service. -
Sat. June 13, 2015
(10:00 a.m. -
Sun. June 14, 2015
Har Mar Mall
2100 North Snelling Ave.
FIRE: From the Outback
Discover a gem with a power of light and a depth of colour to capture the heart. Called ‘The Rainbow Stone’ by Australia’s Aboriginal people, opal is without doubt one of nature’s most remarkable gifts. It is now recognized as one of the five precious gemstones in the world, along with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, and is an excellent investment.
Those who mine opal are attracted by the gem’s incredible ability to expose an infinite number of colours, forever moving with the light. In one of the most harsh environments imaginable, the opal miner toils, digging around in temperatures of up to 55 degrees Celsius (i.e. 131 degrees Fahrenheit). That makes mining not only uncomfortable, but at times life-
Australia produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s supply of opal and there are three main production areas.
There’s the bright and beautiful Queensland boulder opal which is mined around the Quilpie area in Western Queensland.
Lightning Ridge in New South Wales is the home of the famous black opal which derives its name from the colour of the nobbies or pieces of rough opal in which the gems are usually found.
The third area is Coober Pedy and Mintabie in South Australia. Coober Pedy is an Aboriginal name, meaning ‘white man in a hole’, which describes exactly what miners still do today – live underground to escape the fierce heat of summer. This is where the white or milk opals are mined.
It is as much the call of the Outback that lures the opal miner and keeps him going. Scorched landscapes and blazing red sunsets. The night stars from horizon to horizon. A hauntingly beautiful country that penetrates one’s soul.
The elusive opal was formed millions of years ago when liquid silica filtered down into the faults and fissures of sedimentary rock. When the water content evaporated, tiny spheres of silica remained and over time were solidified.
The intensity and combination of colour occur with such variety that each gem has an individual character. In 1964 the CSIRO (Australia’s national research laboratories) unlocked the riddle of why opals have such colours.
Opal is composed of minute particles of silica in closely packed spherical aggregates. It is the varying arrangement of these particles (and, of course, cavities) that causes the reflected light to be split into the full range of colours of the spectrum.
The value of an opal depends on the amount and brilliance of the colour, preferably being evenly distributed across the face of the polished gem. The greater the spectrum of colours from red to violet, the better, with crimson, reds and orange being rarer than the greens and blues. Milkiness, cloudiness or greyness detracts from the value.
Ideally, the greater the number of colours, the more prized the gem, and if these are arranged in a block pattern, more value is added. The extremes are in pin-
Shapes of the finished opal vary considerable according to the characteristics of each stone. Boulder opal is usually cut in baroque or free form, whereas seam opal is at its best presented in cabochon (domed) form.
If you are buying an unset opal, it is important to consider the way it will eventually be worn. For example, some opals will offer a better play of colour when worn vertically, as in a brooch or pendant, whereas others are best flat, as in a ring setting.
There is a great deal to consider when investing in your opal, but expert advice is available for your complete pleasure and pride in an ever-
Opals – truly nature’s own fireworks!
In this website you will find information about all the varieties of opals, and information about my next show so you can come and see a large selection of beautifully designed opal jewelry first hand before buying.
It is my strong belief that given all opals are truly unique and one of a kind gemstones, the only way to acquire a piece of opal jewelry or a loose opal, to be absolutely sure of its quality, is to see it yourself in person. The play of color in each individual opal is so vast, depending upon the direction you are viewing it from, it makes it impossible to accurately assess and appreciate its true appearance and multitude of characteristics via photographs only. In addition, photos of opals can be “doctored” with the use of such techniques as adjusting contrast and brightness levels. Because of these factors, I have never and never will acquire an opal over the internet, and I wouldn’t recommend that you do so either! So come and visit “Australian Opals” at my next show to see for yourself.
I live and have been in business in the Twin Cities Area since 1996. I promise that you will not find a larger selection of fine opal jewelry of this quality anywhere else in Minnesota. So come and visit “Australian Opals” at my next show to see for yourself.
I look forward to meeting you!
John A. Korman, Proprietor