Our opal specimen the COOPER was discovered on Mount Margaret Station, Eromanga, in Western Queensland, Australia in 2014.
The COOPER boulder came out of the ground as an 8 ft boulder with little signs of containing any opal. As such it sat at our mining camp for six months. It was so large, we used it as a step to jump on and off quad bikes and lean tyres against. We even sat on it and complained about not finding any opal!
Eventually, it was unceremoniously loaded onto the back of their truck to come back to east for storage and processing. Upon examination back in east, we could see potential for this large boulder to split it naturally along its “onion rings” opal veins, so we ground down on the ironstone to make sure that the opal veins were fully exposed, in order for them to crack naturally.
We then left the COOPER in a bush paddock for nature to work on it - the heat of the day would expand the opal boulder and the cold of the night would contract it. Every now and again we would come and inspect it for any natural cracking along the opal veins and give it a few friendly taps with a hammer to help it along the way! Finally, after many months, we removed the two outer layers, but we still had the inner two layers to remove. To do this was much more complex - so we constructed a frame with a plastic cast. Eventually we removed all pieces of the onion ring, to give you the amazing opal specimen you see before you!
The COOPER is one of our Australian boulder opal specimens currently on display at the “The Wonderful World of Opals,” (curated by Katherine Jetter) at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science in America.