OPALS FROM OUR PRIVATE COLLECTION:
WHY THEY ARE SPECIAL.
There are many opal fields in Australia but the most famous are the fields of Coober Pedy, Lightning Ridge, Quilpe and White Cliffs. The opals found in each have distinctive characteristics and some of these are more popularly known; such as the black opal and the “nobbies” of Lightning Ridge, or the boulder opal from the Quilpe fields. Others are less well recognised and may require years of experience.
Coober Pedy and White Cliffs opals have a lot of similarities in that they are both predominantly ‘seam’ opal - usually milk or crystal. A trained eye may notice the difference between the opal from each field but each field also has it’s own variations.
White Cliffs, though vastly smaller then Coober Pedy has it’s own unique opals with the opal ‘pineapples’ being the most popular. The strangely shaped pineapples are most sought after - with only a few miners having success. They range from the size of a golf ball to about 15 cm (or 6 inches) in diameter.
The Dowton family have been mining at White Cliffs since 1974. Over the years they have accumulated and constructed mining machinery to cover all mining avenues; from prospecting with drill rigs, underground mining with tunnelling machines and open-cut mining with an excavator and trucks.
In this time some amazing finds have been found, increasing the collection - particularly with their good luck in pineapples. The collection also includes other specimens such as: shells, belemnoids and of course, seam opal. The photos on this web site show pieces from the Dowton collection. Many of these are shown here for the first time.
WHITE CLIFFS BELEMNOIDS.
An extinct squid like critter whose remains left a dart shaped fossil not too unlike it’s distant cousin, the cuttlefish, whose remains wash up on the beach. These fossils became the mold for the opal thus creating beautifully coloured pieces. These have proven popular with jewellers who use them for making pendants.
WHITE CLIFFS “PINEAPPLE” OPAL.
Specimens of the very beautiful and rare pseudomorphic “pineapple” opal are shown on other pages of this web site. See these pages for more information.
WHITE CLIFFS SOLIDS, DOUBLETS AND TRIPLETS.
White Cliffs opal is cut the same as any other opal in that it’s either solid, doublet or triplet. Solid opal means that the stone is 100% opal, usually cut with a cabochon, to show the colour within the stone.
Doublets are too thin to support themselves so a backing is glued onto it. This backing varies from cutter to cutter as to what they think is best for each individual stone.
Triplets are thinner still, so along with the backing, a crystal cap is glued onto the top of the stone. This acts as a magnifier, at the same time protecting the slivers of opal.
THE BENEFITS OF BUYING FROM A FAMILY BUSINESS
Please note: All of the pieces offered for sale on this web site were mined by the Dowton family. You save substantially by purchasing direct from the family because you are eliminating any agent’s fees.