The most impressive opal mines are located in Queensland, Australia. This region was once covered by the ocean. When waters receded, they left behind layer upon layer of sediment. The pressure and heat that are present in the ground under these conditions provide the right environment for fossilization to take place. It is a slow process, requiring millions of years to complete.
Opal is a noncrystalline form of quartz containing between 3 % and 9 % water.
“This is a sea shell fossilized within a layer of opal,” explains Silvio. “It is from Queensland, Australia. You can recognize the shape of the shell inside.” The texture of the opal makes it look as though the shell were encased in a fine layer of pure light and fine, reflective diamond dust.
At the bench, Silvio fixes several rings for a client from Stowe. He also received a request for an anklet with a single ruby on an 18-karat gold chain. A client walks in and upon seeing the fossilized opal shell immediately suggests it would make a magnificent pendant.