Boulder Opal Mines Australia
Opals have been part of my (John’s) life since I was a toddler as my father was involved in opal & mining in the 1960s and 70s. I remember watching with fascination the opal colours and patterns changing completely as my father sorted through opals to be sold. Little did I realise then that one day I would be mining my own opal and not just mining but, with Leanne, cutting and polishing the stunning Boulder Opal from our own Queensland mines.
Leanne has a background as a hairdresser and artist and developed a love of opal through our travels to the opal fields throughout Australia. We both love the remoteness and wide open expanses of inland Australia. So we played a little as amateur noodlers (fossicking through other opal miners leftovers) all the time becoming tired of the hustle & bustle of life on the Gold Coast. We were always saying “one day we will go opal mining”... I guess it had rubbed off on Leanne too.
Our move to full time opal mining was a natural outcome of this passion. We made a “dirt change” trading our Gold Coast hairdressing salon for the rugged opal country near Winton in north western Queensland.
Our early experiences selling our rough opal to dealers was very upsetting & disappointing. The dealers knew we needed to sell (the saying goes “you can’t eat opal”) and we were inexperienced so they offered a low price. So as we both are from creative backgrounds, we learned the skills to cut and polish our own opal.
Our original styles were very modern and different to what was traditionally being done with opal, as things went along, we started to make all sorts of opal jewellery.
The idea for each original design starts in our mind as we are shaping the opal. The individual characteristics of each boulder opal inspire the shape. The design is an extension of the uniqueness of the opal's shape, colours and pattern.
Now, we spend the cooler months out west mining and the summer months here on the coast (our workshop is at home) cutting, polishing & designing opal jewellery. We display at the weekend markets and supply various jewellers all over with our jewellery.
How long have you been making your opal jewellery?
We have been creating our own opal designs for 15 years.
What is your greatest inspiration?
Our greatest inspiration is Opal... We are passionate about opal, a beautiful natural gemstone. Each opal is an inspiration in itself.
What is the greatest challenge to owning and operating your own creative business?
We find our greatest challenge to owning and operating our own business is finding enough time to be a jack of all trades. To have enough time in our workshop, to be bookkeeper, marketing, sales person, the list goes on.
What is the best thing about owning and operating your own creative business?
The best thing about owning our own creative business... We enjoy being creative and love being in charge of our own destiny.