News / fossicking

  • Grace Opal finally publish $250'000.00 opalised shell find.

    Grace Opal finally publish $250'000.00 opalised shell find.


    A couple of years ago the Grace Opal brothers were pillarbashing on the Dead Horse Gully field about 35km north West of Coober Pedy.
    It was getting late and being the ‘ol fulla’(Lochy from World Class Opal) was tired and hungry but the young fulla (Shannon from Kimberley Opal), was champing at the bit to go and check an old abandoned claim on 15 Mile.
    Lochy wanted to go back to town for food but Shannon convinced him with “nah we’ll just jump down that old cave in claim and there’ll be another cave in and it will be full of shells!” Given the distances involved, they decided to travel the 20k’s to 15 Mile for a quick ‘bash’
    They arrived and descended the old claim where they had found 30k over a couple of months of work about 20 years back. Armed with the new, lightweight and powerful battery powered UV torches, the hungry opal hunters started checking over the old workings afresh. There was quite a bit of interesting trace and they had probably found a few hundred bucks worth of skin shells after half an hour of searching..
    This mine is enormous, it spans 300 metres long by about 70 metres wide and the main level has been removed to a spine chilling degree.. At one end of the claim, there is a gargantuan cave in the size of a very, very large house. This happened while the miners with the tunnelling machine that did most of the work were still IN the mine!


    According to a first hand account from one of the partners, they were tunnelling away as normal when they noticed dirt falling from the ceiling indicating major movement above. They promptly backed the machine out of the affected area thinking some of the roof may collapse. Shortly afterwards, a cave in of horrific proportions sunk maybe 20% of the entire claim a whole 20 feet with a deafening crash, crushing the pillars beneath like toothpicks and plunging them into darkness and horror as the mine filled with thick dust.
    That was the last day those miners spent underground, the fear it struck into their hearts seemed to cure them of opal fever. God save the opal hunter from such a horrible fate.. Although it could certainly have been much worse.
    At any rate, Lochy was at one end of the claim chipping away when Shannon came scurrying excitedly from a couple of hundred metres away down the labyrinth of caverns, “Oi! We’re effin rich man… seriously… There’s heaps of these and it’s a massive pocket! “ pulling a handful of stunning fully opalised shells with beautiful dark crystal bars from his pocket.
    Lochy quickly left his bit of trace to lend his pick to the situation.

     


    It was uncanny, exactly as Shannon had said at Dead Horse Gully a hour or so before, they went down and found a newly collapsed area and there was a massive bed of shells exposed in the roof. They didn’t need a shovel, just several hours of picking from the roof and picking up and breaking level lumps on the floor.
    Lochy went up to see what they could use to carry all of the opal out and all he could find was an old sleeping bag, they filled it up along with several other makeshift containers. Pulling the bag full of opal level to the surface late that night proved a dangerous job due to the belled out shaft and extreme fatigue from the extraction work, but it got done without casualties.
    Back in Adelaide and a full week of clipping and cleaning later, some stunning gems were emerging.

     

    Graceopal.pty.ltd eventually donated a 170k fossil opal collection, mostly from the Old 15 Mile find, to the South Australian Museum under the Cultural Gifts tax offset scheme. The brothers have dedicated these items their late Dad Kevin who introduced them to the fascinating world of the outback opal hunter. 


    Most of this opal has been sold rough or set into precious metals at worldclassopal.net and kimberleyopal.com where some is still available.
    Here’s hoping for another strike like this or better for the company. It certainly makes life in the desert more exciting and rewarding.
    Thanks for reading, watching and for being interested in the amazing phenomenon that is Australian opal!

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  • Mining and cutting a 35K super gem crystal Belemnite Pipe.

    Mining and cutting a 35K super gem crystal Belemnite Pipe.

    In early December 2020, our mining company was prospecting on the Donna's Rush opal field about 50 kilometres north of Coober Pedy Australia. 

    Donna's Rush is a field named in honor of John and Yoka Dunstan's late daughter. I knew her a little personally and can attest to what an amazing person she was, she certainly brightened the day of anyone she interacted with and is very much missed by all who knew her, not least her family. 

    So with that in mind, it is fitting that some of the most beautiful opal we have ever found has been from the relatively small field of Donna's Rush.

    This particular day we winched into a mine that had been dug recently with a tunelling machine with little trace left behind. I tried out a battery powered drill we spent over a thousand dollars trying to see if it was feasible, you can see in the video the small holes it made before the battery overloaded and cut out. Turns out it's too soon for that tech, we will have to stick with 240 volts and elbow grease for the time being. 

     Just as we had almost finished checking the entire claim, i found some small 'feeders' of trace in a patch of beautiful opal level (the chocolatey weathered sandstone around the opal in the video), and as I was cutting them out, it was very fortunate that a few crumbly chips fell away from the pipe, exposing the end as seen in the video. This piece will be for sale at our mining companies accounts following: 

    Graceopal Store (opalauctions.com)

    graceopal.pty.ltd on eBay

    GraceOpalAustralia | Etsy

     

     

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  • We dig 8k per ounce Dead Horse Gully super gem shells. Early October 2021..

    We dig 8k per ounce Dead Horse Gully super gem shells. Early October 2021..
    Taken over 4 days in the beginning of October 2021. I return to an old favourite, Dead Horse Gully to see if we could pillarbash some of the beautiful dark crystal opalised shells I simply cannot forget from many years ago. Sure enough, we were fortunate to find a belemnite pipe with a few carats of stunningly flawless world class super gem, a full shell that was quite dirty but also yielded some absolutely mind blowing crystal, and quite a few other bits and pieces that will be appearing in jewellery and rough opal parcels at worldclassopal.net Thanks to @KimberleyOpal at Graceopal.pty.ltd for the loan of half the equipment! 😋
    We will add updates to this blog showing the new jewelllery that is produces from this beautiful material. Thanks for watching!

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  • 'Black Lighting' For precious opal turns up an unbelievable find, for once..

    Black lighting for precious opal on the Coober Pedy opal fields

    The Grace Opal brothers (worldclassopal.net & Kimberleyopal.com) AKA, Lochy and Shannon, set out one beautiful Coober Pedy evening to try their luck at blacklighting. Australian opal and Coober Pedy opal in particular is famous for it's flourescence under ultra violet light.Shannon with the old cumbersome 240 volt blacklight underground.

    Above is a picture of Shannon with an 18 watt 240 v blacklight that we used for decades, thank God for the recent advent of powerful UV torches that weigh only grams and shine much, much farther than these shoulder destroying, time consuming behemoths.

    The Larkins Folly opal field at night.

    Above is a long exposure showing Jupiter setting in the west and some of the old, extremely rich (in their day) opal workings on the Old 10 Mile and Larkins Folly (foreground) opal fields of Coober Pedy Australia. 

    Black lighting on the surface around old diggings in Coober Pedy has been a game of diminishing returns over the last 30 odd years, and in the last dozen or so has usually been downright depressing. Rarely anything but a lot of hard work, very dangerous due to the ever present death traps that are mining shafts literally everywhere, not to mention the gaze of a thousand noodlers (fossickers) having stripped the dumps of all but tiny traces. 

    Hope, however, springs eternal, and one particular night on the fields a few years back, we had that rare burst of energy and enthusiasm to brave the opal fields at night to blacklight, particularly as we wanted to try out the new high powered UV torches that had revolutionised so much of our mining and opal exploration.

    The night sky looking south

    Another long exposure looking south, note the southern cross and pointers, always taking the stage in the southern sky over Coober Pedy's crystal nights. 

     The above video was taken moments after uncovering a fully opalised belemnite in its host rock. the excitement is palpable as I inspect the ancient opal fossil to see the extent of its filling.

    Amazing opal I happened upon in the old dirt.

    I couldn't believe my eyes when I found this belemnite pipe (carefully removed from its host rock, (natural breaks).

     

    Mind blowing, super gem extremely stable high quality light crystal opal in large cuttable pieces, this will make some truly world class opal jewelry.. 

     

    The cleaned opal pipe..  Perhaps a once in a lifetime find..

     The full extent of the opalised ancient squid (belemnite) pieces.

    Jewelry set made from the pipe.

    A stunning set made with the opal we sent to the UK via Fedex.

    This piece was not even listed before Mum snapped it up!

    This piece didnt get to the website, Mum snapped it up at first glance! 

    Natural opal earrings

    Another shot of those lovely earrings. 

    Below is a video of the 'kingstone'. This is extremely rare and superb quality opal, cant wait to find a truck full! :-)

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