Other precious gems are more valuable. ‘But in beauty,’ one miner said, ‘there is no stone that can be compared to it.’
LA TRINIDAD, Mexico — Héctor Montes has been around opals his entire life and has held a concession from the Mexican government to mine the stone for 40 years. But at 76, he said he could still feel a rush of adrenaline when he picked up a raw opal that had an especially promising glint — he never knows what it will look like in its finished state.
“There are no two alike,” he said of the stones he shapes and polishes. His workshop, strewn with rocks and lapidary equipment, is part of the family opal business that he runs in this community of about 2,500 residents in the central Mexican state of Querétaro, one of the two main regions in the country where opal is mined today.
“I get tired here, but I don’t get bored because of the variety of colors that we have,” Mr. Montes said as he polished an opal using finer and finer grits of sandpaper. “You’re always eager to see how each stone will turn out.”
He pointed to some of the stones he had at hand: fire opals, rainbow opals, peacock opals, among others. The more colors an opal flashes and the more intense those colors are, the higher the quality, Mr. Montes explained.
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