Opal Fever!

It's Opal Fever at Jewels on Queen for the month of October! We chat with Nell Schofield of Jewels on Queen, to hear more about their Sydney Craft Week event, opals and her Woollahra gallery.

Tell us about Jewels on Queen.
Jewels on Queen is the name I came up with for my mother Anne Schofield's beautiful book about her 50 years on Queen Street, Woollahra and some of the amazing jewels that have passed through her hands. As Cate Blanchett said, it’s “a gem of a book” and we have it for sale here and online.

When we decided to open another project space in the same building at 36 - 40 Queen Street Woollahra we used that same name as we like to think of all our customers as Queens too. Our jewellery has a magical quality that bestows extra radiant qualities to the wearer.
We opened last November with a collection of fabulous tribal Indian and Central Asian silver jewellery that still forms the basis of our stock. But the temptation to create special shows and use our window onto the world as a stage for fresh ideas was simply too much. We have since had the following shows:
- Treasures of the Sea (pearls, coral and shell necklaces, some by Tasmanian Indigenous women)
- Bewitching Bohemian Beads (contemporary work by Jacqueline Lillie - a renowned Viennese jeweller)
- Wild Things (contemporary Australian jewellery inspired by the natural world)
- Opal Fever (celebrating our national gemstone)

And we will reopen on November 26 with ‘Hark’ - a show celebrating heraldry, Christmas charms, and Woollahra itself.

How did you come up with the idea of Opal Fever?
My dear old friend Linda Jackson suggested it early on in the year as she has an amazing collection of opals and opal beads. Interestingly, Linda had her first show of Opal Jewellery in our upstairs gallery back in 1981 so we’re thrilled she’s back with more opals in 2019. We decided to include a selection of amazing young and emerging jewellers and challenge the notion of opals as tourist jewellery. Also, October is traditionally opal month. 

How is Linda Jackson involved?
As above but we didn’t realise how busy she would be with the launch of her major retrospective which just opened! She and I have been to Lightning Ridge Opal Festival twice - once this year and then two years ago when I MC’d the International Opal Jewellery Design Awards.  Linda took our Opal Appreciation Group last Saturday and will be here again this Saturday to share her knowledge of opals. She is the High Priestess of Opals and can be found on instagram as @opallindaoz

Why are Opals so special?
Opals are like fossilised rainbows. They speak of a time when Australia had an inland sea over 66 million years ago as all the opal fields in Australia are found around what would have been the shore of this sea.  We have some opalised shells from the shores of this ancient sea in our shop now. The artesian bores from the Great Artesian Basin at Lightning Ridge are like remnants of this body of water. Looking into an opal is like looking back in time or looking into a microscopic universe. There are so many colours of the spectrum to be found in them. Each one is different. You have to find one that winks at you!

Why are you extending Opal Fever to 9 November and what do you have planned?
Because so many people have been away on school holidays we thought we’d extend so that they too can get the opportunity to fall in love with our selection of opals. We have one of our jewellers, Sheridan Kennedy, in store on Fridays between 10am - 5pm and Saturdays from 10am - 2pm and she can make a bespoke piece of jewellery for customers. 
We also have our special Opal Group with young Bundjalung jeweller Lydia Baker from Tweed Heads this Saturday from 12pm and she and Linda Jackson will share their love of opals and help people make their own beaded opal necklaces.
Opal fever - the only cure is more opals!


For more information and to visit, head to:
Opal Fever
Jewels on Queen
40 Queen Street, Woollahra
Workshop bookings:

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Images: Sky Mazurkiewicz, rings. Photo courtesy of Jewel on Queen; Linda Jackson, beads. Photo courtesy of Jewel on Queen