Oh Opal! (re-imagining Australia’s national gemstone)
A new exhibition by Part B – a Melbourne-based research jewellery group
It’s a conundrum! What to do with the opal? Why don’t more Australians love it? Melbourne-based research jewellery group Part B takes on the challenge of exploring the history and legend surrounding the opal and bringing a new fire to this strange and alluring gemstone.
Since Roman times, the world has been fascinated by the opal. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were great proponents of this mysterious gemstone, and Art Nouveau master René Lalique used it to great effect in his jewellery designs. It has been perceived as both good luck and bad luck (the latter sometimes attributed to the 1829 novel ‘Anne of Geierstein’ by Sir Walter Scott, among other factors). Moving into the twenty-first century, the creative director of Dior Fine Jewellery, Victoire de Castellane, is often quoted declaring her love of Australian opals. This coincides with the recent wave of interest in the gemstone from other big European jewellery houses.
In Australia, however, the opal still languishes, perhaps a result of one too many souvenir teaspoons. But given our bounty of these brilliantly-coloured beauties (Australia’s opal fields are bigger than the rest of the world’s combined), surely there is more to be done to improve the opal’s lot! This is just the kind of challenge that Part B loves…
Founded in 2009, Part B is a Melbourne-based research jewellery group, made up of a fluid collective of emerging and established jewellery practitioners. In this age of online social media, Part B is quietly flourishing with its focus on first- hand experience of exhibited works and face-to-face communication through monthly ‘gallery gatherings’ in and around Melbourne. Their own exhibitions and one-day-only happenings seek to investigate form, function, materials and the social engagement of jewellery, and are designed to challenge the Part B participants (aka
particles) and audience alike.
Exhibition dates: 2-23 May 2012
Opening night: Friday, 4 May 2012, 6-8pm
Venue: Redox Jewellery Studio
Shop 3, 51 McKillop St, Geelong VIC 3220