When Katherine Jetter’s opal distributors told her that cutting into opals was considered verboten, she didn’t abandon her plan to create blossoms with the iridescent gems. “I really fought with my mining guys,” she says. “The old-school view is to not cut down opals, which is why opals are so often these ugly, weird shapes.” The blue-green stones composing the petals in this piece—dubbed Miss Minty for its mint-green tourmaline center—required months to source; it can take “up to six months to find four matching stones that have enough size and dimension to withstand the cut,” explains the designer, whose native Australia is home to the Daintree Rainforest that inspired her Exotic Flowers series. “The rain forest is deep and dense,” she says, “so I wanted to create a sexy, magical flower that had some danger to it.”
The incandescent ring features an 18k white gold setting festooned with four cut opals, a 2.98 ct. mint-green tourmaline center, 1.89 cts. t.w. diamonds, and 0.96 ct. t.w. tsavorite garnets. It took 10 artisans two and a half months to fabricate the piece. At press time, the ring was available at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, priced at $30,000.
Cut It Out
Jetter spent three years perfecting a method for cutting opals into 3-D shapes—a proprietary process that people have tried to copy. Each Exotic Flower ring features a center stone that complements “the fire in the opals.” While locating the center stones and matching the opals, Jetter tends to form an attachment to the rings. “They really are my babies,” she says.
“Almost all my collections are inspired by the landscapes in Australia,” says Jetter, who currently lives and works in Santa Fe, N.M., and introduced her eponymous collection in 2008. Miss Minty features petals designed to look like they’re melting at the edges, and a general jaggedness of design meant to “create movement and give a sense that the flower is alive.”