Ornella Ianuzzi uses Wello opals in new collection

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Designer picks new opals for first foray into stone carving.

Ornella Iannuzzi will showcase a new collection at Goldsmiths’ Fair that uses Ethiopian Wello opals.

The designer discovered the opals on a trip to Ethiopia in May. The stones are from the Wegal Tena deposit in the Wello province of Ethiopaia which was discovered in 2008 and has provided a rich source of mostly white opals, with some brown opals, fire opals, and colourless crystal opals. The opals are ethically mined by local farmers.

Iannuzzi’s collection using the opals, which she has dubbed Lucy in Wonderland, is the designer’s first foray into stone carving. The range includes a ring made with a 65ct rough Ethiopian Wello opal, set in black rhodium-plated silver and with 22ct gold leaves and a pendant made in 22ct gold with 102.5ct of rough and polished opals, diamonds, sapphires and tsavorites.

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“Each piece of the collection is unique, entirely handmade, and symbolises a particular place, myth or legend of the Abyssinian land,” said Ianuzzi. “Combining precious metals with rough or sculpted opals, the range brings a new aesthetic to opal jewellery and takes the Queen of gems to its true level: an artwork to wear or to display.”

The opaque-to-translucent Wegel Tena opals, which are thought to be 25 million years old, become transparent when soaked in water, showing a remarkable hydrophane character. About 1,500 kg have already been extracted using rudimentary mining techniques and the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) said that the deposit may “extend over several kilometers and could become a major source of gem-quality opal”.

Ianuzzi will be exhibiting during the second week of the Goldsmiths’ Fair, which takes place from October 4 to 10 at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in London.

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