Our Process --- How we make Opal Art

We’re taking a side road to tap into our process and what it takes to create thoughtful, experiential, exquisite pieces of Opal art. How we, at NIXIN, craft our unique Australian Opal jewelry. At NIXIN Jewelry, we create Opal masterpieces whose cornerstone is the Queen of Gems. It carries unique characteristics that separate it from other gemstones and are obvious at first glance. Although every gemstone is unique, we find Opal to be even more so than its brethren — diamonds, emeralds, sapphires — Opals are powerfully singular and each one, right out of the ground, bears a volume’s worth of one-of-kind features. Distinctive. Colorful. Unexpectedly misshapen. Opal art is a specialty of its own right, with many layers required including patience, planning, a perceptive eye, and perhaps most important, passion for the artist to infuse into every single piece. In this article we’re going to share our passion for the subject and give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we approach creating the Opal jewelry of our dreams.


Romancing The Stone


Before we can even begin to design the piece, we first need to handle the gemstone — the Opal. Let it speak to us and offer us a clue as to what final form it wants to take. We try to approach each gemstone without any preconceived notions. The stone, its unique characteristics, is what ultimately guides our vision. 


Our process starts with this search; a quest to find extraordinary stones. Stones that are spellbinding all on their own, stones that need only the right framework to shine. This search means sourcing with discretion, passing up many beautiful Opals to focus on the exceptional. So we sift endlessly, with laser focus and clear intention until we encounter an Opal gem that calls to us. 


Although we certainly have a soft spot for Opals, we apply this same process to other gemstones like sapphires, emeralds, moonstones, tourmaline, and diamonds. We sometimes use these colorful characters on their own, as the primary colored gemstone in a piece of fine jewelry, and other times we use them as supportive cast to enhance our flagship gemstone - Opal. 


The Perfect Stone


When we source our stones, we aren’t looking for the ‘perfect’ Opal. In fact, perfection is often the last thing we seek. We see such beauty in the blemishes and organic defects that nature uses to mark a stone — they bestow it with character. A striking inclusion, the potch of a picture stone, the visible markings in a wood replacement Opal — these elements give it a story, they lend the Opal a distinct identity. In many ways, perfection seems somewhat ordinary. This is why at NIXIN Jewelry we have such high regard for Opal types like Boulder Opals. They so seamlessly play off of natural elements; the tangle of host rock with precious Opal, their dynamic and passionate dance bold and different in each Australian Boulder Opal. Their idiosyncrasies inspire us to create one-of-kind treasures out of each Opal stone. Something truly special for you to cherish.


Giving voice to the stone


This need to let the stone speak its purpose is the driving force behind our jewelry. We interpret what the gem is meant to become. This connection to our stones is what has fueled such creations as the Forest of Enlightenment Emerald and Opal Necklace — an Opal pendant featuring a 21ct Pipe Opal encased in gold bamboo, capped with emeralds and a diamond laden leaf.

 Forest of Enlightenment Emerald and Opal Necklace 


It is precisely the inclusion that peeks out from said leaf that was the inspiration for this entire design... 


Sometimes it’s the shape of a gemstone that draws us in and we are inspired more by its perimeter than by its internal contents. Other times we fall for the dreamy hue of a gem, just like we did with the blue-kissed tone of the emerald at the heart of the Denouement Emerald and Diamond Ring. Its color is so rich, we yearned to tell the story of the stunning Colombian Emerald through a design that reflected the diamond dew collecting in a cool garden morning. 

 

Denouement Emerald and Diamond Ring


We share the stories of our stones through their designs and descriptions — they are immersive pieces meant to be experienced. 


The Blueprint 


Once we’ve identified a compelling Opal or other gem of note, we begin dreaming up how to do it justice via everlasting art. Sometimes it’s a quick process — inspiration overcomes, swiftly revealing the stone's purpose. Other times it takes months for a gemstone to marinate in our minds until its ultimate form begins to take shape. 


Sure, we could just forge a standard setting to mount our stones in, but that’s not what we aim to do. We strive not only to craft elegant designs for our gems, but to extract the story trapped inside each gem too. We’re composing visual tales with vivid and colorful imagery to create a jewelry experience you can immerse yourself in. 


We listen to the stones, to what they want to be, and lean into it  — we are the architects of their homes and the narrators of their stories. Stories that have been trapped for millions of years under the arid Australian desert, or in some far-off jungle in Colombia or Ethiopia. Stories that have captured the attention of kings, queens, poets, and even Egyptian pharaohs. Stories that've been brewing for ages — we are proud to unveil. 


Going backward so we can move forward 


As the stone reveals its intended purpose, what it seems predestined to become, we begin our process of reverse engineering. We start with that end result we desire, the finished piece we see trapped in our minds, and devise a plan to achieve it. 


Our method of creation varies depending on the stone and the stylistic details desired for the piece. Some designs necessitate a CAD model (computer-aided design), with special programs that can scan gemstones, track precise measurements and provide renderings that can be shared and manipulated before final versions are cast in gold.

 

CAD Model of the Emerald Ring shared above

Other designs may be better suited to wax sculpting by hand, which allows for repeat edits in the wax, sculpting directly around a stone too challenging to scan into a computer program, and can be a great approach for pieces demanding a more rustic or organic feel. The Forest of Enlightenment Emerald and Opal Necklace was constructed over a 6 month period in conjunction with a skilled wax sculptress using the lost wax technique because the design was too intricate for our CAD modelers to execute around the magnificent Crystal Opal.

 

 

Lost Wax Showing --- Necklace in progress


We individually assess the best production method for each piece based on what will most effectively deliver upon our vision.


We at NIXIN Jewelry employ a range of methods and tools and work with a variety of skilled craftsmen, with the sole intention of creating a piece of art that does justice to the gemstone. 


A Process Millions Of Years In The Making


These precious gemstones can spend millions of years developing in the Earth’s crust. Pressures, the very forces of nature, molding them and slowly transforming them into what they are today. It’s a metamorphosis that took epochs to reach maturity. This process inspires our respect, and we believe in approaching each piece we create with the patience and passion it deserves. 


Here at NIXIN Jewelry, this means our pieces are thoughtfully crafted and made with love — perfect for the fine art collector seeking one-of-a-kind jewelry.

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