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23 March 1954 Opals

 23 March 1954   Opals

At a State Banquet at Parliament House on 23 March 1954 Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were presented with opal jewellery: gifts from the people of South Australia. The large oval-shaped opal presented to the Queen weighed 203 carats. It was set in a necklace with 180 diamonds, in a filigree design, surrounding it. The stone was found in Andamooka in 1949. The Duke received cufflinks of Coober Pedy opal set in white gold. The jewellery was fashioned by Wendts.

Opal was discovered at Coober Pedy in 1915 by a 14-year-old boy who was camping with his father's gold prospecting party. By 1916 Big Flat was established, and a further influx of miners after World War I saw an increase in production. During the depression the market for opal fell away, but it picked up again after World War II. The dug-out style of living gave the town its name - from the Aboriginal kupa piti meaning 'white man's burrow'. The opal fields extend about 40 kms around the township, and the area is the largest producer of precious opal in the world. The Andamooka field, near Lake Torrens was discovered in 1930.

Advertiser, 24 March 1954, p. 2.
Opal in South Australia, Department of Mines and Energy, 1983.

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