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The History of Australian Lapidary and How It Began, by Opal Options

In this article we look deeper into the history of lapidary in Australia and how it all started. Let’s begin with the history of gem cutting.


History of Lapidary in Australia | Opal Options | Sustainably Sourced Opals

Did you know? The first Lapidary club in Australia was founded in 1953 by a man named Jack Stanley Taylor. In 1945 is he was a co-founder of the Gemmological Association of Australia, and he accumulated a personal collection of gemstones spanning over 1000 entries.


Mainly carried out across the European continent, the processes of gemstone cutting, and lapidary were well guarded and defined as trade secrets, passed down from father to son over the generations. The whole process, using huge sandstone wheels that were driven by water was extremely difficult and uncomfortable, requiring the operator to lay flat on his stomach while holding his opal stone to the wheel.


Nowadays, advances in technology and machinery have changed the way gemstones are cut and polished, and lapidary clubs began to pop-up across Australia and the world.


Opal Options has been providing Australian Lapidary Clubs with boulder opal rough parcels for many years, what started as a side-hobby has become a life-long passion. Learn more about Opal Options sustainably sourced boulder opals here.



When was the first Lapidary club established in Australia?


Dating back to 1953, a meeting was called in the month of February to form Australia’s first lapidary club named; The New South Wales Lapidary Club and Jack Taylor was the first president of this club. By 1960, the NSW Lapidary Club popularity grew and encompassed over 1200 members.


What was the first Lapidary book to be released in Australia?


According to articles online, the first Lapidary book that was available in Australia was the 6th edition titled “The Art of Gem Cutting”, printed in 1956 and written in the United States by Dr. HC Drake. The book was known to be extremely helpful as it was well illustrated.


Did you know? Members of Lapidary clubs would practice on pieces of broken glass and potatoes until they felt comfortable and ready to take on real gemstones and opals.



What is a Lapidary Club? According to Wikipedia, “Lapidary clubs promote popular interest and education in lapidary, the craft of working, forming and finishing stone, minerals and gemstones.


Lapidary clubs in Australia sponsor and provide a means for their members to engage in all forms of jewellery making, cabochon cutting and faceting, carving, glass beadmaking and craft work.


Lapidary clubs also promote and facilitate healthy outdoor activities in the form of field trips to various fossicking locations for the purpose of collecting gemstones or mineral specimens.

Lapidary is particularly popular in the United States of America and Australia where large numbers of clubs were formed in the 1950s and 1960s.


Where do Australia Lapidary Clubs buy Opals from?


Here in Australia, Lapidary clubs’ source their opals and gemstones from opal miners and traders. They typically look for opal parcels (opal roughs) so that they can polish and shape them as needed. One of Australia’s most trusted Opal traders is Opal Options, offering a spectacular range of boulder opals that are sustainably sourced from boulder mines in Queensland.



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