Click to enlarge picture. Lightning Ridge, close to the Queensland border in Northern NSW is the land of the rare and brilliant Black Opal. Fossicking on the discarded opal-dirt dumps for chips of opal is a pleasant, relaxing and sometimes rewarding pastime.

Although it now receives a regular trickle of tourists, Lightning Ridge was until very recently the last town at the end of the bitumen, and it still retains the look and feel of an outback mining town. But it has all the facilities for a comfortable stay, including motels, banks, post office, shops, doctor, chemist ... and lots of opal retailers. A number of opal mines are open for inspection, although current production has moved further west to the opal fields at Glengarry and Grawin.

Opals have long been Nikki's favourite gem stone for each one is different. The opals that are usually seen in the UK are white crystals and unless they are of the best quality, they are without much colour. In contrast the opals from Lightning Ridge are very brightly coloured. Photographs do not show the stones to their best advantage because they change colour with the movement of light and it is impossible to reproduce this.

All the stones shown here were obtained in Lightning Ridge and, unless otherwise stated, were set and mounted to Nikki's original design sketches and specification by Joe Catermole of Maddox Street, off Bond Street, London.
Click on an image to see an enlargement.
Blue/green triplet square stone set in an 18 carat gold ring.
Boulder teardrop opal made into a pendant in smooth 18 carat gold.
(Same item as above).
White solid crystal mounted as a pendant in 18 carat gold..
Large triplet with six satellite crystals set in 18 carat gold.
Brown boulder straight sided opal set as a pendant on a 18 carat gold striated base with three diamonds.
Blue/green triplet set simply in 18 carat gold.
Double-sided round blue/green crystal uniquely mounted as a pendant with both sides visible, in 18 carat gold.
One white and one blue crystal set into an 18 carat gold ring.
A beautiful multi-coloured crystal teardrop stone set in 18 carat gold (made in Sydney, Australia).
(Same item as above).
If you intend to visit Lightning Ridge, don't miss the Big Opal Mine, John Murray's Art Gallery and a trip out to the Glengarry Hilton. Find out more at:
Lightning Ridge Tourist Information
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The World of Nikki van der Zyl