DISCOVER THE world of opal, Australia’s kaleidoscopic national gemstone, at Lightning Ridge, NSW – the world’s major source of rare black opal. The Australian Opal Centre and the Gemmological Association of Australia invite you to learn about Australian opal through expert tuition and hands-on discovery, right here on the opal fields.

This exciting new series of programs addresses opal geology and gemmology, opal mining and processing, opal classification, grading and valuation, opalised fossils, opal cutting and carving, and the natural and cultural heritage of the fields.

Ideal for anyone interested in opal, gemstones, gemmology, gemstone cutting or carving, whether for professional development or personal interest.

Numbers are strictly limited, so contact us now and ask to be sent a 2017 Registration Form as soon as they are released.

Have questions? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Email or call 02 8005 1667.



110 million years ago, Lightning Ridge was a forested floodplain at the edge of an ancient sea. Today, it is famous for opal and opal mining, opalised fossils, dramatic landscapes, big skies and friendly people. Learn first hand from an outstanding team of opal cutters, miners, buyers, valuers, sellers, designers, gemmological experts and scientists. Enjoy privileged access to rough and cut Australian opal, and the people who know it best. You may even find and cut your own piece of opal to take home!

This program has three parts; you may choose to do one, two or all three. Participants in Part 1 will be given priority for enrolment in Parts 2 and 3. A $100 discount is available for participants doing all three parts. 2017 dates are yet to be announced.



Part 1.  Discover Australian Opal at Lightning Ridge (6 days)

A wide-ranging intensive course that will provide a massive boost to your opal-related knowledge and skills, as well as opportunities to enjoy the extraordinary sights, sounds and hospitality of the opal fields. No previous knowledge is required. Maximum 20 participants. Includes:

Lectures and practical workshops in opal geology and gemmology, opal handling, opal classification and nomenclature, grading and describing opal, opal mining, opalised fossils, and principles of opal pricing.

Introduction to opal cutting with renowned opal cutter and carver Daniela L’Abbate.

Opal field tour including visit to working opal mine.

Opal showcase: Small-group sessions with opal wholesalers and retailers showing loose and set opal products – an opportunity for inspection and discussion of diverse products away from the selling environment.

Opal mining safety awareness course. This course is compulsory for anyone wanting to register a mineral claim to mine for opal. (And yes, you could if you wanted to!) Provides a wealth of interesting insights, even if you decide you’re not going to be an opal miner.

Social program including meals, landscape experiences, local history, Aboriginal culture and opal-inspired art.

Part 2.  Intensive Opal Cutting (5 days)

Spend five days in the cutting workshop under the supervision of award-winning opal cutter and carver Daniela L’Abbate, with individual feedback and mentoring. An unmissable opportunity for anyone wanting to improve their opal cutting skills. (Maximum 10 participants.) 

Part 3.  Fundamentals of Opal Carving (4 days)

In this practical class, renowned opal carver Daniela L’Abbate will provide invaluable advice on tools and equipment, techniques, aesthetics, and other aspects of the art and science of opal carving. A rare and valuable opportunity. (Maximum 8 participants.)


ELIGIBILITY: Anyone 18 years and over is eligible. Part 1: no experience is required. Part 2: participants must have completed Part 1, or have equivalent opal cutting experience. Part 3: participants must have some experience with carving opal or other gemstone material.

DATES: Please contact us if you would like to be notified when dates for 2017 are announced. There will be one day off between each of the courses.

YOU WILL BE TAUGHT BY:  an outstanding team of opal miners, cutters, buyers, sellers, valuers, gemmologists and scientists, led by Jenni Brammall, a palaeontologist, gemmologist, valuer of opal and opalised fossils, opal photographer, designer of opal jewellery and manager of the Australian Opal Centre; Daniela L’Abbate, gemmologist and world-renowned opal cutter and carver; and Dr Elizabeth Smith, palaeontologist, artist, author and authority on Lightning Ridge’s fossils.   

COST and INCLUSIONS (in Australian dollars): Part 1 – $2,200 per person (incl. GST). Participant fee includes all activities, materials and most meals; excludes accommodation and transport. Part 2 – $1,500. Includes all activities, lunches, morning and afternoon teas and most materials (participants may bring own opal for cutting); excludes accommodation, transport and evening meals. Part 3 – $TBA. Includes all activities, lunches, morning and afternoon teas; excludes accommodation, transport and evening meals; participants to bring or purchase own opal to carve (material will be available for purchase); micromotors will be available but participants are encouraged to bring their own; basic tools and supplies provided, with additional kits available for purchase (optional).

A discount of $100 applies if you register for all three courses. A further discount of $100 is available to anyone registering for Part 1 who is a member of the Gemmological Association of Australia, or a Business, Sponsor or Life Member of the Australian Opal Centre.

Participants are welcome to pay in instalments – a great option for anyone on a tight budget. Talk to us and we’ll help arrange a payment plan that suits you.

TO SECURE YOUR PLACE: Email and ask to be put on the priority list to receive a 2017 Registration Form. Participants will then be selected on a first comes, first served basis. 

WANT MORE INFORMATION? If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email or call 02 8005 1667.