Gerry picked up some tourist pamphlets at the airport on our first morning in Sydney. She looked through one and saw a coupon for a discount on opals & free pearls. Now that was right up her alley with free jewelry. We caught the bus & train and were on our way after lunch.
The opal cutting and showroom was an interesting place. We went up in the small elevator to the third floor and exited into a very small area. It took us a while to find the poorly marked buzzer to gain entrance to a caged interior space and another locked door that opened into the sales area.
Marjan seated us at a long table and began an introductory explanation of Australian Opals. He did a very good presentation going from the least expensive to the famous Black Opals. He also explained the differences of settings, the doublet and triplet being the more common.
I asked where the opals came from & he said from various mines in Australia. He then explained how much hard work & danger was involved in mining opals. The older miners are retiring and replacements aren’t interested in the poorly paying jobs.
Due to increased government regulations regarding safety & ecology concerns it is costly & difficult to start up new mine. Land costs have risen significantly adding to an estimated startup cost of over $250,000 Australian dollars. Then you have to hope that there are gems there. No wonder there are fewer mines & workers.
Then the fun began for Gerry when he began bringing out trays of opals & pearls for her to check out. As you can imagine her eyes lit up & she was in her element. My eyes glazed over with all the gems. She spent an hour or so checking for the perfect opals & pearls.
Meanwhile I took photos of the area and wound up talking to another worker there. Most of them were from Macedonia and migrated to Australia. He wanted to tell me all about US politics from his point of slanted view. That got boring very quickly so I switched subjects to why he left Macedonia.
Gerry finally made her “free pearl” selection and a few more baubles. They were considerate enough to accept $US for payment at a good rate. As a matter of fact they accepted all the US money I had in my wallet plus a few more $AU. Hey guys, don’t let your wife pick up the “free” coupons at the airport, it’s painful.
We finally got out of there and went to the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) nearby. The QVB is an upscale department store with numerous small shops on each floor. We had a beer & pizza there & Gerry went window shopping while I sat outside & people watched. It was near the train station and hordes of busy people going someplace kept the foot traffic heavy.
Finally, Gerry exited the store and we decided to stop at the local Starbucks for a cold Frappuccino which was great. Then it was our turn to join the crowd and catch the train & bus back to the apt.