It seems that nearly
all the well-known opals have come from Lightning Ridge area. Although having
strong and beautiful colors the Queensland material is in general too thin to
have large and important stones cut from it, and none, so far, have been given
individual names. It
is said that most of the famous opals were named by Jack Landers, well known
for many miles round the Lightning Ridge area.
South Australia has
produced some beautiful stones; such as that presented to Queen Elizabeth II
in Adelaide in 1954. It weighed about six ounces in the rough and was cut and
polished to a large oval of more than two hundred carats which measures 3 1/8"x1
3/4" (more accurately, 81x45mm). The colors are brilliant and the setting,
a palladium necklace of the most delicate design, with light, gracefully curved
filigree work, bears 180 diamonds.
Other stones having
interesting pints are the Head of queen Victoria, a quite lifelike representation
of the Queen in her young days; this was said to have been presented to the
Royal family years ago, but there may be some confusion here as a very similar
stone was recently for sale in Hatton Garden together with a newspaper cutting
relating to it and dated from the beginning of this century. The Duke of Devonshire's
opal, a low cabochon oval, measuring about two inched by one, weighed only a
hundred carats, but was a flawless deep black with splendid spangled colors.
And then there was the Gem of the West, the Green Goddess, worn by Myrna Loy
in the The Double Wedding and said to be the world's largest and rarest opal
and worth about $36,000.00 USD and the Galloping Sixty, so called because, sold
originally for about $100.00, it was said to have been gulped down in about
sixty minutes! There was also Big Ben, 4,100 carats, which was cut down to a
large number of smaller gems of high quality and greater total value and reputed
to have weighed fifteen ounces and to have been worth about $27,000.00.