Famous Opal Lovers
Elizabeth Taylor is well known for her love of fine jewellery and also her love of Australian Opals, She had several items of opal jewellery in her collection and also purchased opals for her mother whom had a great love for this stunning and unique stone.
Andy Warhol, one of the most recognized artists of the modern world fell hard and fast into his love affair with this magnificent gemstone, very soon after his first exposure to opals he became an avid collector and in 1977 his exhibition Opal the Rainbow Gem at the ICA in London featured photos of the gemstone taken through a microscope. Hope is well represented in public and privatecollections, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, Heide Museum of Modern Art and Queensland University Art Museum.
Sam Worthington & Natalie Mark
When the star of Avatar, Sam Worthington arrived on the red carpet with his date Natalie Mark sporting a pair of Bunda Opal earrings to the 2010 Oscars, the gemstone was declared in vogue. The amazing 'Varvara' earrings are huge Boulder Opal splits, making a bold statement on the red carpet at the 82nd Academy Awards.
Marc Antony & Cleopatra
Nonius (a Senator of the Roman Republic), owned a fabulous Opal known throughout the civilised world. The opal was set in a ring, it is said to have been the size and shape of a hazelnut.
Roman General Mark Antony was so entranced by the moving lights within Nonius' stone his fascination led him to covet the stone which he sought as a gift for his lover Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt (30-69BC).
Antony offered Nonius several times the 2,000,000 Sesterces at which the Opal ring had been appraised, perhaps even the price of a villa on one of the seven hills of Rome in 35BC. Nonius refused to sell it, declaring it was his life. Mark Antony made him an offer he could not refuse and proscribed the Senator. Nonius preferred to be banished from Rome losing all he owned, leaving behind his wife and family, though fleeing with his most highly prized possession.
In 42 BC Marc Antony summoned Cleopatra to a meeting in Tarsus (present-day Turkey), so she could explain why Egypt had not supported him in the Roman civil war against Caesar.
Now that her lover Julius Caesar was dead, Cleopatra needed Mark Antony’s approval and she set about getting it the way she knew best: with a meticulously planned seduction. She sailed to meet him up the Cydnus River in a scented, candlelit golden barge, where she invited him to dinner.
He found the preparations made to receive him magnificent beyond words, “but what astonished him most was the extraordinary number of lights... they were arranged and grouped in such ingenious patterns in relation to each other, that they created the most brilliant spectacle imaginable to delight the eye.
An eleven year love affair ensued, which became all consuming and fired the lovers with the ambition to create a new world order. They were the ancient world’s most famous celebrity couple.
Therein lies the reason Antony wanted the Senator’s Opal more than any of the innumerable treasures in Rome - it reminded him of the atmosphere in which his mind and body were fatefully seduced – the fiery Opal made light dance in mesmerizing patterns around its emboldened beholder.
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was the most famous actress of her time, she scandalized Paris by wearing pants and taking men's roles in several of her plays. In the US she was coveted by the press and received in every city as an ambassador of style. Sarah frequently wore Opal which was her birthstone and highly regarded within her circle. The distinguished stage actress, who later pioneered the movie-making era, was a great patroness and inspiration to her fellow artists, Henri Vever, Rene Lalique and the decorative painter Alphonse Mucha. Sarah commissioned this ruby-eyed snake bracelet and ring (hathphul), inlaid with Opals, for her 1890 premiere as Cleopatra. Mulcha provided the sketches of this extraordinary jewel executed by George Fouquet. Bernhardt has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine St.
This massive 14k vintage opal ring featuring a huge crystal opal surrounded by 1.25ct of VS diamonds, was Purchased by Elvis Presley at Thunderbird Jewelers las Vegas in the early 1970's and worn both on and off stage. With a color photograph of Elvis wearing the ring on his pinkie finger on stage at the Las Vegas Hilton in July of 1974, wearing a straw hat with a banner reading "Elvis for President." This stunning stone (opal) captured the heart of the king of rock and roll!!!
Jenna Dewan-Tatum, the new wife of Channing Tatum, wore amazing Queensland Boulder Opal and diamond earrings from Irene Neuwirth with her teal dress. Its great to see the new generation of celebrities continuing to wear this unique jewellery.
Queen Elizabeth ll
In 1954, an search for the finest opal ever found at the South Australian opal fields was announced by the South Australian Government. The opal would be presented to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her first visit to Australia. Altmann & Cherny submitted an outstanding piece of rough opal which had been mined at Andamooka. The Government selected this opal as the most appropriate and befitting gemstone for this occasion.
The opal was then cut and polished by John Altmann. Once cut it weighed 203 carats and displayed a magnificent array of colours including red, blue and green. It was set with diamonds into an 18 carat palladium necklet.
Gene Simmons ( Nick Simmons )
This stunning custom piece was commissioned by Gene Simmons for Nick Simmons his son to wear in their documentary Simmons Family Jewels.
Its great to see some huge stars showing love for opal and not only puchasing a piece but having it designed especially for them.
Victoir de Castellane ( creative director of Dior Fine Jewellery )
“I am crazy about Australian Opals. They look artificial but are completely natural. You get every colour in one stone; that’s economic, non? And the colours are so fluorescent; they’re very strange, almost like a rainbow.”
When told that Australians are generally prone to cringing at opals she is shocked. “If they don’t want them, please give them to me. I’ll do an exchange. I’ll have a big chunk of it.” - Harpers Bazaar interview by Jamie Huckbody.
John Davison Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller America's first billionaire and the world's richest man. Rockefeller was taken by the alluring charms of Opal gemstones and had to have the mesmerising 'Fire Queen' Opal for which he paid £75,000, a record for an Opal. Rockefeller achieved his dreams and gained a huge multinational empire as he was a great industrialist who founded Standard Oil and revolutionised the petroleum industry, is often regarded as the richest person in history and as having defined the structure of modern philanthropy. His collection of rare and famous Opal gemstones and jewellery were viewed personally by Rockefeller regularly as the opals gave him inspiration.