Opals 101

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Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre has acted on feedback given in conversations with community during the weekly Jam Session and BBQ. They have started with an activity every Tuesday morning teaching opal cutting and polishing in the MDNC courtyard.

Mel Williams facilitates the group and is passionate about everything Opal. Her grandfather mined in Cooba Pedy when she was a child and now, along with her partner, she visits mines in Koroit, Lightning Ridge and Yowah at least once a year. She has been doing this for eight years. Her grandson even calls her the ‘Opaless’.

For those that watch the Popular series the ‘Outback Opal Hunters’ they would be familiar with Isaac the ‘Opal Whisperer’. He is a good friend of Mel. Opal Hunters are unique human beings.

Whilst chatting, cutting and polishing opals at MDNC, you can expect to learn

How to Identify Opal

Where and how to hunt for opal
What is and isn’t an opal
Different types of opal
Outback safety and understanding
Environment and cultural considerations (Respect)

How to Sort, Clean and Rough out

Collecting or purchasing rough opal
How to clean and prepare your stones for cutting
Grading your rough (How to decide which ones to cut)
Learn how to ‘read’ the opal (Where/what is the colour bar?)
Cut the basic desired shape (roughing out, ready for cutting).

How to Cut Opal

What is a dop stick
What basic tools do you need to start cutting?
Cutter’s safety first.
Dremmels, how they work and how to change bits/discs/polishing tips.
Refining shape for maximum colour play
Which way to face your opal
Freeform versus traditional. Which works best?

How to Polish Opal

What do you need to polish an opal
Applying the dop stick
Manual sanding, how to use your graded sandpaper
Creating a blemish free face
When to move to the final polish
Graded diamond paste versus cerium oxide for final polish
How to get a gem quality finish on a less than perfect stone
Finishing the back

How to Wrap a pendant stone

What can be done with a finished opal
Choosing materials
Exchanging creative ideas
Options for setting opals
Learn how to d a basic silver wire wrap.

All participants will need to sign in, sanitise and wear a mask to be covid safe.
Everyone welcome and free of charge.

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