The magic opal-button

by James K. Sayre

It was the most beautiful and magical thing that I had even seen in my young life. As you turned it in the sunlight, it would variously shine red, green, orange or yellow. It was an artificial opal-button.

Apparently, it used to reside on a dark coat that belonged to the woman who lived next door to us in Ridgewood, New Jersey, back in the late 1940s. Apparently, at the age of three or four years, I had wandered into the next door backyard, seen the opal-button and yanked it off in my desire to possess beauty.

Apparently my mother was able to charm the woman next door into letting me keep the opal-button, for it remained in my possession throughout my childhood and beyond.

I used to take it and put it among the fallen autumn leaves in the street gutter and admire it at length. My own little world, me and my opal.

Later, I realized that my mother had always worn a large beautiful white Australian opal ring that showed blue, green, purple, orange and yellow colors in the sunlight. I don't know if her opal ring had any part in inspiring me to get my own opal.

Now I know why European gypies used to tell other folks that opals were cursed for the wearer: they wanted to keep opal prices down, so that they could thus enjoy them more easily and more cheaply.

In my hippie days in Palo Alto, in the late 1960s, I bought some small pieces of Australian opal at a local rock shop, soldered and made some delicate rings out of silver wire and then epoxyied in the opals in a basket setting and gave them away to girls that I liked.

By the time I got down to one of the Australian opal fields, in Lightning Ridge, it was the mid 1980s, but I still was charmed by opals and bought a couple of small collections of them.




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Web page last updated on 22 September 2007.