It’s like something out of a movie: a down-on-his-luck miner spends his whole life collecting rocks in search of striking metaphorical gold. Finally ready to give up the effort once and for all, he makes a last, desperate attempt to strike it rich, scrutinizing one particularly grimy rock in his collection. In that moment, he sees something that will change his life forever: the barest glint of green and gold. After whittling away at the stone for the next two years with a dental drill as his only tool, he unearths a fantastical gem: an exceptionally valuable 306 carat black opal.
But it wasn’t a movie. This story played out in Australia nearly 15 years ago, and the unlikely protagonist is known today only as Bobby. After discovering his newfound treasure, Bobby didn’t rush off to his local jewelry buyers office or give Christie’s a call. Instead, he hid the opal under his mattress. Where it sat for the next 12 years.
Bobby has since explained the reasons behind the delay: as self-proclaimed caretaker of “one of God’s greatest creations,” he was in no rush to part with it. In fact, he would have held onto the gem longer, had he not found its next guardian in jewelry designer and fellow Australian Katherine Jetter. An expert on the stone and creator of the world’s first luxury opal brand, Jetter has devoted her career to returning Australia’s national gemstone to a celebrated position in fine jewelry industry.
Certainly, Bobby’s find is a start in the right direction. “The Royal One,” as it has been nicknamed, will be featured at Couture Las Vegas, the prestigious luxury jewelry event held every year at the upscale Wynn Resort. The jewel is priced at a cool $3 million, so be sure to bring your checkbook.
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