Australian opal jewelry, designed by Linda Jackson, brings a sense of drama and occasion to the wearer as do her opal inspired fashion outfits.
Well known as the October birthstone, opal jewellery is sought after by
the most discerning and fashion conscious, with the Australian black
opal, found at Lightning Ridge, being the most prestigious and expensive
because of its flashing brilliant colours.
Personally, I am attracted to the softer hues of the milky ‘white’ opal from Coober Pedy, which also has an impressive play of colors.
Australia is the source of around ninety five percent of the world’s opal production, probably because of the geological history of the Great Artesian Basin, a massive underground fresh water lake, which covers a good quarter of the arid inland of the continent.
This huge water catchment, from which many hot bores gush across
the continent, is composed largely of sedimentary sandstone, through
which, over the aeons, water has slowly trickled, absorbing silica from
the rock and depositing it in cracks and crevices, which, after many
episodes of evaporation, eventually turns to opal. Even more intriguing
are the occasional finds of fossilized opal skeletons or tree branches.
Linda says, “The opal is our national gem, a living treasure, a
glittering rainbow in stone, paintings of light by Mother Nature, a
miracle of brilliant dazzling colour. Opal, for me, is awe inspiring; a
revelation of great beauty.”
Little wonder that she finds the brilliant colours of Australia’s national gemstone such an inspiration when taking up her paintbrush!
Linda first visited the remote outback opal fields in 1979; inspired by
the fiery opals, by the people and by the place, she returned often,
taking part in the Design Awards in Yowah and Lightning Ridge as a judge
and a participant from 2000 to 2011.
Linda remarks, "It is important for me as a colourist to explore this beauty and purest form of colour in its natural form. With my long-term passion for opals I aim to transform the mysterious beauty and magic of their colour into a new and distinctive form".
Using microscopic photographic technology Linda studies the various layers of colour structure inherent to opal's particular properties of light diffraction.
Working in such a field (pardon the pun!) Linda is a leader in the interpretation of pattern and colour, that is millions of years old, to a modern and accessible abstract form that conveys the essence of this remarkable natural phenomenon.
Gorgeous opal necklace
Following trips to Lightning Ridge, where she photographed the Black Opal frocks and new experimental hand printed and painted textiles in the landscape which had been their inspiration, Linda and Jenny Kee presented Flaming Opal Follies in 1981. This extravagant and flamboyant show, with its hand-painted backdrop and models wearing opal inspired makeup, was spectacular!
Two years later, glowing like the opal gemstones themselves, the brilliant Black Light Opal series, with its fluorescent colours of extreme intensity was shown in ultra-violet light to great acclaim.
Linda's 'Opalessence' perfume, Black Opal fabric wrapping each bottle, was launched the same year, as was her stunning Australian opal jewelry.
As Linda recalls, "I created opal jewelry with Yowah and Boulder Opal from Western Queensland, tracing the opal matrix colours, lines and shapes that ran like rivers through the landscape. Stones of odd shapes were threaded with silk cord and finished with hand-made silver clasps.
Wrapped in silk, black opal printed bags, these creative pieces starred on the front covers of Australian Vogue Magazine.
Australian opal jewelry exhibitions were held in Linda's studio, the Queen Street Gallery, in Berta Opal's 'Opalfields' showroom at Pier One and later at Darling Harbour.
More recently Linda collaborated with Vogue Magazine and Gary Coffey from Giulians in Sydney to create a group of exquisite jewellery pieces in twenty two carat gold with, mostly, brilliant blue-green, high quality opal. This Australian opal jewelry collection features pendants that can be threaded together or worn as a single piece, complemented by a Tibetan style locket and earrings.
Gary remarked, "A free spirit of fashion, Linda's original approach to design has marked an era in Australian fashion out of a driving passion for the outback and its indigenous people. A cornerstone of her work over the last thirty five years has been her fascination with fiery opals and the lightning storm of colours they hold."
These days, whilst still involved in developing the Australian opal jewelry range further and visiting the opal towns when she can, Linda continues her research into the fascinating micro-world of opals.
Experimenting with transparent glazes, watercolours and mixed media, she is beginning to "translate images onto a series of canvas or paper paintings, shown as flat Japanese screens or Chinese scrolls, to reveal the continuation and flow of intricate patterns laced with colour. These artcloths will be exhibited as scrolls and installations of three dimensional frock sculptures".
Watch this space for more news of their transformation!