Opening Memories

Opening Memories


This is a white Australian opal with broad flashes of green and lots of orange pinfire. I gave this pendant a nice sparkling cluster of wires at the top to complement the dazzling fires below.  This stone looks striking on both dark and light colors, but it’s one of those rare stones that go with pretty much everything. It’s such a joy to look at.

Opals usually put on their best show in sunlight, but what I love about opals is that the play of colors will be different in different types of light. This makes them truly magical to look at, as they are always changing and are always full of surprises. This is a very stable opal. I have had it in my possession for several years. Perhaps you will find this opal in your own possession for several years…

When I was a kid we had this beautiful, antique, oak writing desk that smelled of wonderful old things. It had a front panel that folded open. The inside revealed several compartments and one small, center drawer. Your eye would be drawn to the decorative glass drawer-pull and you would be compelled to open it. Inside was a jumble of little treasures (keepsakes, souvenirs, trinkets) perfect for igniting the fantasies of a small child. I went there when no one was around. It was a secret place that told its stories only to me.

One item that I loved most of all was a small, milky-white opal cabochon. It was breathtaking the way the colors flashed gold and red as I turned the stone in the light. It was a curious piece though. The back of it had a shallow carving and looked as if it had been painted with gold. When I opened that drawer several years later, no longer a child, I came upon the stone that held such intrigue for me. To my amusement I discovered that it was only made of plastic with cheap gold-colored paint on the back. The domed front gave the illusion of opal as the gold shone through. It must have come from a piece of costume jewelry. I should have been disappointed, but I was too entertained. It was, however, the one that started it all, and I’ve loved opals ever since. They remain at the top of my list of favorite stones.

I gave this pendant an ambiguous name, as I do many of my pieces, because I regarded the opal in two ways. As an adjective, my “opening” memories as a child were filled with magic and curiosity about the world. As a verb, I find myself “opening” memories often, many pleasant and some painful. This pendant can symbolize the making of new memories or commemorating old ones. It would be a fitting gift for someone who is welcoming the future while cherishing the past, or maybe leaving the past behind.

There are a few stones that have eluded me when it comes to photography, and this is one of them. I could be at it for weeks. I have been trying to capture the bright orange pinfire of this opal and cannot. This is one of those rare times when you’ll have to take it on faith. I’ll get it right eventually, but that could take a long, long time. In the meantime, although the bright lights I used washed out most of the color, a couple of the photos do show the orange fire to some degree.


Made with: Australian white opal, sterling silver wire and bail

Size: Stone is ~7mm x 8.5mm; total pendant length with bail is ~1 ¼” (~31mm).

© Pentathlos 2005–2018