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2 August 2001

2001 Opal Jewellery Design Award Exhibition

Past Opal Queens, 2001 Opal Queen, Opals Basketballers and Coach, Prestige Award winner, Judges, 2001 Opal Jewellery Design Award Exhibition

Thomas Dwenger, Prestige Award Winner with one of the Opal stars, Ally Douglas (wearing the winning design) and President of the OJDAA, Sue White

Record numbers flocked to Lightning Ridge's Federation 2001 Opal Jewellery Design Awards Exhibition.
Stunned by the exhibit worth many millions of dollars, visitors made repeat inspections to truly appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of our National Gemstone and the magnificent Rainbow Collection which has captivated viewers wherever it has been shown. To focus upon just one highlight during the week would be difficult.

Organisers matched the Opal Extravaganza with a smorgasbord of entertainment and a celebrity line-up that, woven together, cast a spell upon all those attending. Miners, jewellery manufacturers, designers, buyers, fashion designers, the Olympic Silver Medal winning Opals Womens Basketball team, the Opals, the Young Australian of the Year, James Fitzpatrick, all mingled with guests from each and every state of Australia. There was time spent rekindling friendships and as the week unfolded names were put to the unique pieces that had been created for the awards.

We saw the exotic designs of Linda Jackson, the opal studded dress designed for the Second Opal Symposium at Coober Pedy, the opal-handled ceremonial scissors manufactured for the 1932 opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and welcomed home Harold Hodges' opal dentures. There were many who spoke of our beloved gemstone but just one who truly captivated the 500 diners at the Gala Awards Night.

Diminutive in size compared to her charges, the Australian Opals, coach Jan Stirling, grasped an understanding of the industry which she imparted in her inspirational speech. "We need to put our heads together and ensure the world knows and respects the creativity and uniqueness of your industry, people and the magnificence of our National Gemstone.

"Whatever the Opals and I can do to achieve this, we will," she said. The audience responded with a resounding ovation and there were many who exchanged cards with Jan to see this followed through.

Competing against the best many of our local exhibitors emerged with prestigious awards to their credit.

The dual centenary celebration of the Federation of Australia and 100 years of mining in Lightning Ridge has been an historical feast.

As it is respectfully put to rest, organisers will commence the planning for the 2002 Year of the Outback Opal Jewellery Design Awards and Exhibition in the Black Opal Capital of the World - Lightning Ridge. What can we possibly hope for?

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