Matti Tikka got into the Opal business by finding an opal worth $2,800 in Australia with nothing more than a screwdriver.
“Forty-two years ago I was holidaying in Lightning Ridge. And we spent three weeks with my wife on the field. Before I left I told a Miner named Andy – “I would like to have a taste of mining.” so he was laughing, gave me a screwdriver, and there was a hole, a 4-feet hole, in old Cochrane, and he said “just dig there” so I went down.“Where do I start digging? There was sand-band on the wall, that’s usually where opal appears, and then he went away laughing you see…
“15 minutes later I’d dug a little hole, got a piece, and you know, two-thousand-eight-hundred dollars.”
Matti told me about how he then brought the Opal to a cutter, and due to his ignorance of the business, the cutter stole the heart of the opal from him. Matti was a very happy man though – he was able to take all $2,800 and invest it straight into his first new car, a brand new Ford Falcoln.
“Then I told my wife – you pay rent in Sydney, I’m going to go start mining.”Matti Tika now sells natural Black Opals from Lightning Ridge at show 3-4 times a year, making the long flight from Australia to the United States. He has since found opals worth $50,000 – $60,000, though he claims he’s never found any “really expensive ones” after his first discovery.
True black opals only come from one place and that’s Lightning Ridge, New North Wales, Australia. There are claims of Black Opals from other locations, but the real thing can only be found in the Lightning Ridge mines, according to Matti. Matti owns his own mines, but he’s been reducing them over the years, and now keeps his business simple with a “couple fellas” working on one of the mines.Matti Tika explained to me that a majority of the Opals he sells are quite old. Newly dug opal stones have a tendency to crack if not treated properly, and even when carefully taken care of they still have a chance of cracking over time. Matti says that only about 1 out of thousands of his stones crack, but as a precaution, he puts the new stones in the back of a safety deposit box to sit, and brings the older stones out for his shows. Black Opal is considered the most stable type of Australian Opal.
The prices for opals start lowest at blue, blue-green, green-orange, orange, orange-red and red, and combinations of those. All Black Opals have a predominantly dark background that ranges in color from dark gray to blue-black, which allows the Opal’s secondary colors to stand out. Although the prices range based on color, color preference is often up to the buyer. “Some like it blue, some like it green, some like it red, and so on,” Matti tells me.
Matti Tikka’s customers often consider buying Black Opal an investment. “They are the only stones in the world probably, in my opinion, that they never reduce the price, only increase.” Tikka Opals range from $200 to well over $100,000.
I asked Matti what an expensive stone might look like, and he picked up a beautiful blue-purple 300ct specimen. The stone shifted colors as I held it up to the light, from a dark vivid purple to a bright royal blue.
He says that because of the difference in color and cut, smaller stones with more of a reddish hue may be worth just as much as the larger blue one he showed me.
When I asked Matti about why his customers come to him, he said, “Probably pricing. My prices are really good prices because we are selling mainly to wholesalers.”
Tikka Opals can only be seen in the USA at shows Matti Tikka attends, including the JOGS Gem & Jewelry show. Matti Tikka can be reached in Australia at 011-61-7-5546-9324.
About the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show in Tucson, Arizona
The JOGS Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show is one of the U.S. best selling event year after year – and one of the top markets in the country. This exciting gem and jewelry show event draws buyers from all over the world – tens of thousands of qualified buyers worth millions with serious purchasing intent. Many of these buyers are hard to find and hard to reach but they will come to this event which is one of the most dynamic gift shows and markets in the world. They want new products, great prices, exciting artists, unique resources and innovative ideas they need to set their businesses apart.