This year's Opaluz Collection is a little different than before. Knowing my opal stone collection was falling short for the plans I had, I needed to get more opals, and I wasn't going to buy them online. Before, I was sourcing them all from a miner in Mexico, but I moved to Washington state in February and needed to find another opal source.
I reached out to my jeweler friend Michael in Eugene, who introduced me to a kind and magical lapidarist. Kathy has been cutting opals for athree decades. The three of us sat in her back yard for about 3 hours sharing stories, tastes, and techniques, while I shopped through her opals.
I brought a good chunk of my stone collection as well and my jewelry box for her to see my work too. Kathy is also a jeweler and all around fan of all things shiny, so we were both open to a barter/trade deal and Michael helped us broker the deal.
We agreed on a partial trade, some cash, and I would make her a cuff with a black opal she had cut. A black opal that was one of 3 that I really liked, and she didn't want to sell... and I had convinced her to let me make her a cuff bracelet with it as part of the barter.
Now, let me preface this by saying, I've broken a lot of stones. Most of them opals. It sort of just comes with the territory. I had a friend who used to say all the time "you're not a true gardener until you've killed at least a thousand plants." I think the same could be said about broken stones as a jeweler. So you probably know what's coming next.
A couple weeks later, I'm at the bench ready to start working on her cuff, having the design already planned out in my head and... I break the opal. My heart drops, anxiety kicks in, and I'm like– oh shit. Now what? It would have been one thing if it were a stone I had purchased, I would be out the money. It sucks but you gotta get over it. But it was a stone for a custom piece, for an amazing woman who gave me a sweet deal on some opals, and I was heartbroken.
Thoughts of inadequacy, of being a failure, of letting her down... let's just say it really set me back. Slowed me down, distracted me, and honestly sort of haunted me. I was feeling vulnerable and mad at myself for weeks, trying to think of how I was going to tell Kathy how badly I fucked up. I should have just called her when it happened but I couldn't even TELL anyone about until like a week later. I needed time to process what had happened.
I finally call her and we had the sweetest conversation I could possibly ask for. Obviously. Kathy's super sweet and awesome, I don't know what I was so nervous about. Kathy is a jeweler, too. She's broken countless stones and she Gets It. Yeah, it sucks, but time to move on, you know? The stone doesn't really matter. "Just make me something from your heart," she told me.
But lately it's been hard to access my creativity. I'll get bursts of it here and there, but it can be fleeting and hard to hold on to. Especially after a set back like the broken opal. Or a melted bezel. Or a design flaw. Or whatever! I'm still trying to get my feet on the ground after moving up in February; there are so many little details about life now that sort of exhaust me, so it's been hard to stay focused on making jewelry and experiment like I used to.
Corina Lunita's first opal collection. I had made around 50 pieces for this collection in 2017
When I first started this silversmithing journey, I would break stones, melt things, make mistakes and was able to move on so much easier and more quickly. But something changed in the last two years. I don't feel the same pride in my creations and am hyperfocused on the flaws. I'm feeling self conscious and frustrated, not being able to match my vision with my physical capabilities. But who really knows my vision but me? Who else is looking for flaws instead of the beauty? This has been a practice in accepting things for the way they are, and letting go of what doesn't work.
The number 5 in numerology represents change, and I'm here for it. Trying to flow into the change and see where it takes me. Inviting new styles, trying new things. This year Opaluz is made up of a couple mini-collections. Some pieces go together stylistically, and some simply stand on their own– being as they are. They are enough. I am enough.
Through thick and thin, from my soul with the blood, sweat, and tears of my body... I bring to you, Opaluz 5.
Australian Opals cut by Kathy, Leopard Opals from Hidalgo, Mexico (the last ones in stone my collection), and other Mexican opals from Jalisco, the place where the Opaluz Collection was born. This year, all these pieces were made by hand, by a girl in a cabin on a lake in Washington state. Thank you for reading and I hope you find something you love in this collection.
-Corina Lunita 🌙