Opal Specialist Mini Course
An Interview with Opal Expert Joel Ragan
From Hobby Shop Lap to Opal Expert
How did you get your start with opal?
My dad was in the Air Force, so when I was young we lived on an Air Force base. The base had a great hobby shop, and there were lapidary classes there. So, I signed up for some classes. The first stone I cut was glass with some copper filling, it’s called goldstone. But not long after that, I cut my first opal. From then, it’s just been my passion. It’s always an amazing experience. Every one comes out different, and you never know before it’s finished what it will look like.
That’s one thing I love about opal, that each one is unique. Each opal has a different color quality. It’s really amazing how opal’s color works. These tiny little balls of silica have to be exactly the same size and fit together to form pyramids. Then, how wide the pyramids are and how they’re arranged in the stone determine the color play and patterns in the opal.
It’s really just a passion for me. I love to create unusual and unique pieces and often cut my opals into freeform shapes.
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison’s interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth’s geological processes began in her elementary school’s environmental club. When she isn’t writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
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