Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vitrine: Opal Blues

Opal Blues

Part of my grandfather's job involved traveling the world in search of new fruits that might be profitably imported into the US. As a kid I thought that was the height of glamour, and even now it's a job opportunity I'd jump at.

As his only granddaughter, I enjoyed those trips vicariously by way of the thoughtful souvenirs he brought back. In Australia he visited the central desert and--if I have the story right--stayed in a home or hotel tucked into a man made cavern that was once an opal mine. He sent me a pair of simple gold studs set with tiny blue-green opals that roiled with flashes of pink, green, and orange. They were incredibly beautiful--minute but mesmerizing (qualities, come to think of it, that I now strive for in my own work).

Unfortunately, the stones were triplets, a kind of sandwich made from a wafer of colorful opal stacked between a solid stone backing and a protective rock crystal lens. I wore them almost incessantly and because I didn't know not to wear them in the bath, I eventually wore them out. Over time the glue holding a triplet together begins to fail, especially if you keep getting it wet; first it fogs over like a cataract, then the sandwich falls apart.

But thanks to those earrings, I've always been a sucker for opals in the same color family. Over the years I've bought more than a few cheap but cheerful triplets and doublets such as this one, which I finally "set" in a vitrine. To keep the stone from rattling around I filled in the gaps with tiny blue glass balls. I'll always wish I still had my grandfather's earrings, but having a pendant that reminds me of his adventurousness and generosity is the next best thing.