Opals are having a moment. Ninety-seven per cent of the world’s opals originate in Australia yet the gemstone has long been overlooked in contemporary jewellery – likely due, in part, to their close association with the tourism trade. Recently, however, local artisans – such as Kim Victoria and Millie Savage – have started to embrace the flecked stones, proving their place in the fashion world.
Cult Melbourne label Alpha60 and Pieces of Eight director Melanie Katsalidis are the latest to pay homage to the gemstone in their collection, UPALA. The collaboration – in the works for three years – came about when Alpha60 designer Georgie Cleary and Katsalidis bonded over their mutual love of opals at a friend’s dinner party.
Katsalidis, a jeweller, says that aside from their appreciation of opals, a collaboration between the brands made sense because of their similar geometric-inspired aesthetics. “We have a great deal of cross over when it comes to our clientele and audience,” she says, “and the collaboration was an easy way to share ideas and create beautiful jewellery pieces that we think of as timeless.”
The designers worked closely with Lightning Ridge Opals, which custom cut all the stones for the collection. The line includes one-off specialty pieces (there is a black opal valued at $70,000) and production pieces retailing around the $200 mark. The entire collection is on exhibit at Pieces of Eight, where customers can pre-order pieces before they land in Alpha60 stores.
UPALA is showing at Pieces of Eight until April 19.