When we say that the national gemstone of Australia is the opal then we should not take that lightly. Australia has more mineral and gemstone deposits than any country in the world. Things have been found in other continents but our mining operations are relatively new and the rest of the world’s future supply is debatable.
When you think that Australia has diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and nearly all the lesser gems then choosing the opal to represent the country is highly significant.
Opals were first found and mined in the early 1800s and mostly by European miners who were financially poor but knew how to work hard and could stand the harsh physical conditions. They stood to make themselves rich. They sometimes did and stayed here in Australia.
So you would think that Australians of all ages and sex would be very familiar with opals and know all about them. Well, you would only have to look in mum’s jewelry box to find some opals wouldn’t you? Well, that is not the case at all.
Australians don’t know much about opals at all. Most of them have never even seen one. If I asked ten women in Sydney if they have an opal in their jewelry box I would be surprised if one of them actually did.
Why is this so? Opals are an export market for Australia plain and simple. You will find thousands of beautiful opals in the tourist jewelry shops in Australia’s major centres but Aussies don’t go looking in tourist shops because we are not tourists in our home country.
Australian men have never traditionally worn much in the way of jewelry and gemstones were never really on the agenda. It is changing now but slowly. Australian women also traditionally have not been wearers of a lot of jewelry in the past. Of course, our women have caught up to the rest of the world and wear lots of jewelry today, but is it too late for the opal? I do not know the answer to that!
But one thing is for sure the rest of the world loves our national gemstone and wears it freely in all kinds of opal jewelry: opal earrings, opal pendants, bracelets and rings.
Gary Hocking makes custom jewellery specializing in Australian opals. He has his own website http://www.opaljewelryexpress.com Feel free to use this article as long as you keep the bio and the live link to his website.