Over the years more than a quarter of a million carats worth of dazzling Fire Opals has been plucked from these auspicious mines. Included in this yield are a number of famous discoveries, including the Royal Peacock, a fifty-ounce black opal found in 1970. After it was unearthed this huge opal was then broken into two pieces, creating a 20ct stone – the ‘Little Black Peacock’ – which fetched around $15,000, and a 169ct stone – the ‘Black Peacock’ – which was auctioned for almost $45,000. There were many other discoveries of rare and oversized Opal specimens. Take the Dragon’s Tooth, for example. In 1992 this unique precious opal was plucked from the Northern Lights mine, as well as the massive Ginkgo Log, which is a 130 pound Opal still regarded as one of the largest ever to be found. It was also later revealed, after thorough scientific analysis, that the latter had once belonged to an opalised log of the typically Japanese Ginkgo tree – hence the name.
So, despite the large quantities of Opals that it produces, Nevada’s sun-beaten Royal Peacock Mine might seem like an unlikely place for us to look for jewellery that evokes the ocean. It’s certainly not the first place you’d expect to see Moby Dick, the eponymous salt-sea leviathan from Herman Melville’s classic novel. However, as you can see above, the White Whale did make an appearance by way of an absurd effusion, shaped with glittering scales of colour, which tapered to a domed white head with fins on either side. This unique find was quite aptly named the Moby Dick Opal. We loved the quaint literary association and the way in which it serves to enhance the Opal somewhat, lending it a curious beauty, whilst also enriching the body colour by imbuing it with a living, breathing quality. We also liked the slight lack of clarity, seeming to blur the lustre, as though the multi-coloured whale has been frozen mid-motion.
Funnily enough, it reminded us of how the survivor, Ishmael, described that great White Whale in the novel –
‘…Shift[ing] and glisten[ing] like a living opal in the blue morning sea.’