Payne & Son…

Payne & Son Jewellers of Tunbridge Wells, once again welcomes John and Leisha Wheeler all the way from Lightning Ridge in NSW with their amazing collection of rare black opals.

Following the success of last year’s exhibition, this High Street jeweller will once again be displaying a collection of some 300+ loose opal gem stones and gold and silver set opal jewellery by “Leisha Designs”.

Opening Tuesday 25th and running to Saturday 29th September, you are invited to see the collection (and to purchase stones or jewellery – should something take your fancy) and hear the stories from opal miner John Wheeler who discovered in 1995 the largest ever seam of black opals to be found in Australia, which produces over 95% of the world’s opals.

Sadly, mining of black opals in New South Wales is drawing to a close as much of the opal now found is of poorer quality.

The price of gem quality black opal is set to soar as realisation begins to set in that this beautiful stone will become more and more rare as time goes on.

Bring your own opal jewellery in to the shop during the exhibition and John will happily give you a verbal valuation of your own stones, and come along to hear some facts, myths and superstitions which will be dispelled when you learn more about this fascinating gem.

Here are a few fascinating facts to be getting on with :

  • Opals take over 70 million years to form.
  • The first Lightning Ridge opal was found in 1887.
  • 95% of the world’s opals come from Australia.
  • Good luck is thought to be bestowed on the giver and the receiver of an opal.
  • No two opals are the same.
  • Opals were Queen Victoria’s favourite gem stone.
  • Opals are the birthstone for October.
  • Black opals are the most valuable.
  • Opals are the national gem stone of Australia.
  • There are three types of opal: black, white and boulder opals.
  • Collectible patterns include harlequin, pinfire, tiger stripe and flash pattern.
  • The value of an opal is determined by type, colour, brilliance, pattern and shape.
  • Opals consist of tightly packed silica spheres.
  • Opals contain 6-10% water and can crack or craze when subjected to harsh, dry conditions and rapid changes in temperature.
  • Solid opals can be wet or soaked in water without causing problems. Doublets and triplets cannot.
  • Opals can be polished if they lose their shine or become scratched.
  • Treat all jewellery with respect – it will last you longer.




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