Australian Boulder Opal in particular, holds high interest and value as it’s found nowhere else in the world. In most cases, by small local miners digging on their ‘claims’, rather than big mining conglomerates harnessing large chunks of land for intense excavating.
Mines like Big Red.
This was our family opal mine for 25 years. Mined by my grandfather, my father and my uncle. It is located 100 kilometres south of the small Queensland outback town of Winton, on the cattle station of Fermoy.
The Queensland site was created by an ancient shallow inland sea more than 60 million years ago - a site which is also famed for its unique dinosaur discoveries.
It is formed from sand…or more specifically, dissolved silica from sand, which has found its way into cracks, hollows and crevices over millions of years in ironstone and iron-rich sandstone deposits.
There are two broad types of boulder opal. The first is cut from boulders with an opal face and ironstone acting as a backing. The opal has naturally and permanently joined to the ironstone to form a ‘doublet’.
The second type is where opal forms as a ‘matrix’ of precious opal intermittently mixed with the ironstone or sandstone base.
Boulder opal is second only to Australian black opal in value.
The opal types above are an example of what comes from Big Red mine, latterly a family-mined operation, but originally developed in 1890 as one of the first boulder mines in Queensland and indeed, Australia.
From the early 1900’s, the mine at Fermoy was sporadically dug until it was leased by Ross Chapman (my father) in 1985 and became a family operation, with his dad Richard (my grandfather) and other family members, for 25 years. The mine was coined ‘Big Red’ which is synonymous with red opal, the rarest and most expensive type of opal to be found…and also at the top of our family mining wishlist!
Today, the opal mined from Big Red is being cut by Ross progressively. His intimate background and knowledge of this beautiful stone means he is able to bring the best out of this material…
So introducing the most beautiful, elegant pieces for Cara Gemstones.
Owner Director (once opal hunter)