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How to Find Opal and Become a Millionaire

Who wouldn’t want to become rich over night? Maybe there is a secret recipe for success? At least hundreds of people thought so coming to the opal capital Coober Pedy, looking for the precious gem that with each reflecting colour can represent another thousand dollars in their eyes. Naturally, I wanted to find out more. The staff at the opal museum were rather insightful and I could collect the following essential steps in becoming an opal millionaire.

Become a Landowner

It is not as easy as it used to be. Nowadays you cannot just walk out into the opal fields of the Artesian Basin and start digging. You have to ask for permission first and that permission comes in the form of a mining permit. Meaning, get your own piece of land according to your choosing. That really isn’t too expensive, what is expensive is the next step.

2) Get Equipped

If you prefer the old-fashioned hands on digging, go for it but why make it more complicated than it is? After all, machinery is quite handy and the Cobber Pedians have invented their very own one as well. The blower is a massive monstrosity that sucks out all the dirt and rubble that your Calweld drill and bulldozers have created in digging two shafts and finding the level of where opal is hidden.

3) Know Your Level

Now, opal does not just hide beneath the first layer of dirt, you have to dig between 3 to 90 feet in Coober Pedy. If your bulldozers have cut through the face of the rock and you start to see the zing, stop! The zing is a fine line that signals the existence of opal on this level. Now, the vertical digging stops and the horizontal one kicks off.

4) Keep Your Ears Open

[:gb]You can rest assured that digging in the underground will not result in the walls collapsing over you because the naturally occurring gypsum takes care of that. No need for beams when you got this natural stabiliser. What you need to take care of is your sense of hearing. The opal is not invincible and when your machine cuts into it, you might be left with shattered, useless pieces. Therefore, keep your ears open for any unusual sound. I’ve been told you will definitely recognise it. Let’s trust in that.

5) Get Your Hands Dirty

Hurray! You’ve heard that distinctive noise, the promise of fame and fortune (or did you fall asleep and dream it?). Now pull your hand pick out and carefully go at it the old-school way. Don’t damage the precious stone but slowly rid it off all the clay and dirt. It still will look rather boring. Make sure you don’t have just collected potch (which is worthless). Look or the shiny colours, especially red ones. To estimate the worth, take it to anyone in Coober Pedy, everyone is basically an expert.

6) Get Your Shine On

Is it worth something? Congratulations! Now show the world. Get it smoothened into shape and polished for the extra shine and expensive look. You might want to know that there are different kinds of presenting opal for jewellery, even if your opal is not very big. If it is a very slim but beautifully coloured slice, it can still be sandwiched between an onyx and a glass cabochon to create a pendant. This is called a triplet. So now that you have your gem, it might be decision time. Stay and dig for more or enjoy your treasure. If you stay, you might as well build yourself a home while you’re at it. No rules there except staying clear of your neighbours’ walls for 4m. But be quick, the underground space is running out and you might have to build a boring upper world home.

Disclaimer: This guide is in no fool proof. If it worked a hundred per cent I would already be chilling on my yacht anchoring at my private island with a mocktail in one hand and my designer sunglasses in the other, unable to write this.


Profile photo of Annemarie Strehl

I think I was always made for foreign countries. At the age of 8 I started learning English and a lifelong language romance began. Seeing the country of Shakespeare for the first time 6 years later only set free what has always been lurking: the travel bug. I went off to live in England and Sweden for a little over half a year, travelling whenever I could while studying and working, all the while blogging about my experiences and interrogating my new international friends about their own cultures, daydreaming of finally visiting their foreign lands. This year I made the decision to stop dreaming and start living the dream. I made the bold plan to travel through Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Japan within 11 months, discovering as much as I could and keeping my budget stable through jobs on working holiday visas. Here I am now and already in the midst of blogging about my adventures and travel stories. There is always something happening and I'd love to share it with you. I hope you join me on my crazy ride. See ya!

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