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Carving a piece of red on black seam opal

Step 1

This is the rough opal almost as it came out of the mine. It has been rubbed a little on top and around the sides to expose the colour bar. It has black potch on the top as well as the bottom.  The miner that owned this piece decided that he wanted the top sliced off at the black line drawn on the piece. Once this was done, the top piece was cut into two oval stones.       



Step 2

The next step was to carve out the remaining sand and impurities and remove the thin edges. This was done with 325 grit burrs. The piece has a beautiful red pattern with a thick colour bar.    


Step 3

This is the carving after having the sand and thin edges removed with 325 grit burs and then gone over with 600grit burrs, this is done to lessen the time spent sanding out the scratches from the 325 grit burrs.    


Step 4


This is the finished carving after sanding with sandpapers from 400grit to 1200 grit and then diamond paste on brushes and felt bobs 1200 grit and 3000 grit and 8000 grit  [on a very slow speed ] and finally cerium and lapsa on the same brushes and felt bobs.


It is crucial to check at each step that you have removed all scratches from the previous grit or you will have to go back and begin again from that point.

The piece is a very good quality opal carving with lots of pattern depth and looks good in all lights. This exceptional piece is a perfect shape for a pendant with lots of colour radiating out from all sides of the piece.

By Christine Roussel