GEMSTONES
     I wore and displayed cut Virgin Valley opal gemstones in the direct sun without them crazing more.  Year after year those cases were displayed at outdoor shows in Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and California. When done cutting, the stones first go into a tray in the back of the opal display from the top of the Pixie (By Diamond Pacific.  I also use a Genie machine.)  To show that freshly cut stones are not cracking again, and that they are proven gem grade before being weighed and place in a gem case.  Folks want to see what was cut recently. Some stones do crack in the blazing hot case,  but that's why I do it. It proves the stone can stand the dry out and I don't have to replace it. I promise your gem will not craze from me.  I stand behind the stones I've cut as stable because I have not babied them. I should say I tortured them in direct sunlight for weeks. Gem cases all heat shrivel.
     These wonderful opals come in crystal clear, white, gold or tan, Root Beer glass, black, semi-black, green, and the various colors of replaced woods.  Contra Luz, which is precious play of color when backlit,  is commonly found in the tailings opal from here.   When dry it is usually a pleasant blond color.
Aunt Jeannes BlackNot for sale. From the Bonanza Mine cut by me, well rounded smooth.
This single stone is almost a troy ounce.  Bright full spectrum roll of multi-color, it shows scales or honeycomb pattern in areas.

 2.56ct yellow tops stone with rare staring pattern. $1800. This one goes down to Red spotlights in lowest light. 4th stone down on the left. Harlequin 3rd stone down 2nd column in from the right and about 1/3 of these stones are sold. Here ya go for a You Tube Video of it to prove it's worth only one side of the 2 are shown. http://youtube/TLCfSeozT1I
This is a photo of stable Virgin Valley gemstones with the gem cases NUKED & shriveled from direct sunlight. This case is still baking as proof of the hardiness of our cut material. You will NEVER see black opal in the sun from other dealers most of which will only set up inside a building with temperature and humidity control. They are not PROVEN more stable, they have never been tested. Old case has had many stones sold from it. I've gone to selling the rough RAW as it comes out and letting others have the fun of cutting the gems if it dries. Virgin Valley has been lied about for one hundred years to sell the competition - already sorted and cut for maximum price Australian Black Opal. It is not the fact the opal is no good, it is the fact when it is good it is BETTER than the competition in Play of color and brightness. Our opinions of course. because we have all mined stable opals and wear gemstones, but to sell volume, the specimens are the LOWEST COST BLACK OPAL ON EARTH.

Black Opals, Crystal Opals Tops Opal Riker White Opal too from nineties
These cut opals are proven survivors. Many are MELTED into the gem box liners inside the melted gem boxes from summer outdoor shows. Now that it is 2014 those cases are cracked wide open from the heat. Virgin Valley Opals are honestly tough.

    Mr. Liddicoat of the Gemological institute of America GIA once stated:  "If there was a scale of difficulty in the understanding and appraisal of gemstones, then diamonds would rank as the easiest at #1 and opals as the most demanding at #10." Opal is the hardest gemstone to find, to mine, properly cut, and then to grade and price correctly.  

     There are opals that spotlight the color. The color rolls around a central point in the stone or that rolls cats-eye like when cut on rolling fire or the long tubular Harlequin.   Broad flash can be found in all colors with some stones shifting entire colors when rotated. In person is really the best way to appraise opals. I have cut stones for sale that are cut freehand,  not on dopsticks or, calibrated sizes. I do no do cut others opals.
Gem Semi-Crystal Opal The guy with glasses
2.3 ct for $360 Green multicolor with Red broad flash. Gem Semi-Crystal Opal, baroque again because there is something that keeps me from grinding away half the stone to make a calibrated setting fitter.
     I am an active opal miner and cutter. Local prices are on the wholesale side everyday because YOU traveled to the middle of nowhere to select from the miners themselves.  We have all variety's of opal for sale here. All us miners have cut opals and some jewelry for sale. Stable dried cabochons are available, but they are not common once you leave. Most opals are now cut free form not in a calibrated sizes due to short supply.

     Here are more stones focusing on boulder opals and Mexican Fire Opals.  The Peridot are from AZ and a few silver pendants.  Tanzanites, some citrines, and moonstones with some Yowah Nut stones. Those 2 bright stones second case down in row 2 are from here.
Faceted Mexican Fire Opal Bolder Opals Yowah Nut Lightning Ridge Opal Virgin Valley Opal Peridot
Faceted Mexican Fire Opal, Boulder Opals, Yowah Nut, Lightning Ridge Opal, Virgin Valley Opals and some faceted side stones.

     We wore our Opalized wood jewelry daily for years 24/7. Lots of hot spring soaks (weekly) for years without the stones showing changes.  Leahs' and all four girls' wood slab beads are bright and alive in person and have matching patterns.  Full spectrum, bright green wood grain with electric full spectrum broad flash crystal opal veins. The ladies in the family each got a matching one for a heritage set of gem bright matched beads. I was offered a paltry amount for this grand specimen years ago "because it would need treated" and was so insulted; I cut it into 8 slabs, made 4 pendant beads so every woman in the family had one to wear and sold one to make more than the offer.

     I have had to repair one already from being broken in half while we were building rock cribs for the horse fences on the Roaring Springs Ranch side of the new Steen's Mtn National Monument in Oregon.  They do repair if they are damaged because they break cleanly usually on the grain. That is a nice way of saying that some replacements are structurally similar to wood. Stronger when you work with the grain than against it, just like sanding wood.  Also like wood they wick up the space age polymers to encase and seal every precious area contained in them, unlike boulder opal that won't.
Leahs Opal Bead from opalized wood from Rainbow Ridge. Leah's Opal Pendant Bead  Good opal is good opal and a good opal can take it!  Also, the modern treatments perfected for affordable gems from the mine run of turqouise, emeralds and even all the simulated opal uses it, works just as well on opal matrix if it is porous. Natural opal is NOT porus and most chemicals roll off the outside of the amorphous crystal. The less expensive treated stones are generally tougher than natural gems.

     I try to show the best side up in the cases but almost every stone has colors and patterns on both sides.  These opals have not been breaking under our temperature extremes (for opals) of 50 degree a day swings, with freezing. I feel our opal gemstones are no less sturdy than other districts after being worked.

Liquid fire. very bright. surface imperfections

 ELECTRIC 360 DEGREE REFLECTION FIRE 2.26 cts  It has small surface pits but the color spotlights out of the crystal stone and I couldn't bring myself to grind any more away to make a tiny stone. There are small whitish pits on the surface but liquid colors that can't be described.

     If you need to have no doubt about a stone being stable when buying cutting rough: buy a finished stone then re-cut it to your liking. Needless to say, cutters must accept the typical loss that is inherent in all gem selection and cutting.  If you buy the rough DRY in the SUN you can tell what it did when drying. Opal CT does have a trickier relationship with water than non CT opal. The reward is brighter play of color that moves inside the gem.

  As is found in most all gem minerals, usually 95% and more is specimen grade only, not gem grade worth much ($10 a kilo instead of a gram). Wet specimens are sold for pennies on the dollar compared to the high cost of dry.  I must point out there are a lot of laws and regulations being written around mining and rockhounding and more than one bureaucracy involved. Colorado makes rockhounds buy a permit each year for $150 to pick up anything and even TV stars are known to have no idea where exactly they are.

Facebook Group for Virgin Valley Opal  is at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/virginvalleyopal/  please share this with our fellow Opalholics.

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