Handmade 18 karat yellow gold pendant featuring a natural heart shaped Australian boulder opal, cut by master lapidarist, David Burton.
Unable to find pride jewelry of his specific desired quality, this customer came to us to turn his longtime vision into a reality- and we documented the process along the way.
At Quick Glance
The Stone: Natural 9.42ct Bull Creek Boulder Opal, solid
The Metal: 18kt Yellow Gold
Stone Measurements: 13mm x 12.4mm (0.5" x 0.5")
Pendant Measurements: 24.2mm x 14.5mm (1" x 0.6")
The Weight: 4.62 grams
The Artists: David Burton, Juan Yah, Matthew Lervold
Date of Completion: April 12th, 2023
The Creative Process
When a partiuclar shape or size of opal is requested, we most often can locate a piece of finished material in our inventory, then reshape it as necessary. In this case, however, when our customer approached us with the idea of creating a piece of fine, pride-specific jewelry, we knew that just the stone hadn't yet been cut.
Months before, we acquired a spectacular cinnamon-roll-sized boulder opal specimen from Bull Creek, Australia that showed a lot of promise. Even rough, the material was bright and displayed a strikingly vivid flash of rainbow color. Only two pieces had been cut (and subsequently sold) leading up to the customer's request, as our master lapidarist insisted that he was waiting for the right creative inspiration to strike before processing this rare acquisition.
An area of the opal believed to yield the brightest color with the least amount of precious material loss for the shape (a heart) was identified, and the lapidarist got to work.
Cutting To The Magic
A rough block of stone was cut from the determined area for our customer's viewing. The play of color did not appear as bright or vivid as the customer had hoped, and fissure-like inclusions ran all along the surface. Confident in what he knew was hidden, our lapidarist assured the skeptical customer that there was indeed magic to be found.
After ten minutes of working the stone, shaping while polishing away as many imperfections as possible, a bright red band of color began to show. After twenty minutes, the piece was complete; oranges, yellows, greens, and blues played more vibrantly than they did before. There was one condition to the magic, however: it could only be seen best when held at a specific angle.
Happily Ever After
Through conversation between the customer and master jeweler, Juan Yah, it was decided that the stone be set at a diagonal angle to make the most of the rainbow. Additional instructions given by the customer were that the pendant should be heavy, 18 karat yellow gold, the bezel needed to accentuate the heart shape, and the bail had fit up to a three millimeter wide chain.
The piece took ten days to finish; by hand, pure 24 karat gold casting grain was alloyed into 18 karat, milled into a thick wire, shaped to the piece, assembled together with a handmade bail, and polished to a high finish. An additional notch of gold had been laid between the heart's wings further enhanced the shape. Immediately put on an 18 inch long, 18 karat yellow gold cable chain, the necklace was ready to be enjoyed.