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Fire and Ice opal sells for over $160,000

Buyer Vicky Bokros, Miner Peter Cooke and Opal Cutter Andrew Kemeny with ‘Fire and Ice’. Photo Noel Fisher

The ‘Fire and Ice’ opal made famous by the Outback Opal Hunters television series aired on the discovery channel, has been sold, but will still call Australia home.

Although the final sale price has not been revealed it is believed to upwards of $160,000 – a return of about four and a half thousand dollars per carat.

The Fire and Ice stone is a black opal nobbie with a full range of colours, weighing 34.9 carats.

Lightning Ridge Opal Miner, Peter Cooke, told The Western Herald of how he and his business partner Sam Westra found the iconic stone about two years ago.

“It is an open cut mine we are working on. The mine is over one hundred years old and is too dangerous to mine conventionally,” Mr Cooke said.

“So, we are in there with a 30-tonne excavator. We are moving and washing a lot of dirt to find this once in a lifetime gem.

“When we first saw this stone, it was covered in scum, but I could see right away it was something incredible.

“It was all multi-coloured on one side, black in the centre and a beautiful cornflower blue on the other side – it was just an amazing stone!

Opals of this size and quality are only available at Lightning Ridge and are believed to have been up to 60 million years in the making.

Peter Cooke explained that he and his partner decided to ‘optimise the stone’.

“Normally with something like this you would slit it in half and to cut the opal into standard shapes and sizes, but we decided to have it carved and leave as much of the beautiful colour in there as possible.

“I think we did the right thing; it is an incredible gem. It’s been seen all over the world on TV and it is even featured in the special edition Monopoly game based on Lightning Ridge.

“I’m glad that the stone is staying in Australia, I was expecting to take it to Tucson, Arizona for the big gem fair over there and sell it to the Yanks, or that it would be bought by a rich collector from Dubai.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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