From Mine to Store: Katey Brunini’s Heart-Breaking Electric Blue Opal

Designer Katey Brunini is a master of marrying the stunning with the strange. At the center of her Robot Heart necklace: a huge electric-blue Australian opal shot through with earthy brown swirls. But it’s a tiny LED light—tucked behind a diamond-encrusted gold lightning bolt—that gets this heart beating. The piece was inspired by the relationship between Jungian psychology and Tibetan Buddhism, which Brunini calls “the Western and Eastern paths to the heart.” The 18k gold lightning bolt pays homage to Vajrayana, an ancient system of Buddhist thought sometimes referred to as the Thunderbolt Way. The light, she says, represents “the illumination inside all of us.” Shine on.

Heart Breaker

The 1,363.95 ct. opal was cut in half to show the sloping sides of the heart. A sterling silver bracket holds the pieces in place, providing an elegant anchor for the antiqued silver chain that mirrors the double helix of a DNA strand. The 18k gold lightning bolt is set with 1.53 cts. t.w. burnt orange diamonds.

Light It Up

“It’s the sort of thing that comes to you once and will never appear again,” says Brunini of the necklace’s outsized opal, which originally was shaped like a kidney before being recut. The 6-inch by 5-inch opal is not only uncommonly large—it’s also unusually luminescent. Even without the LED, Brunini reports, “it glows in the dark.”

Beat It

A “trapdoor” in the back allows the wearer to recharge the LED light “like a cellphone,” says Brunini. The wearer can change the rhythm of the light’s pulse, or still the beat of the heart, by pressing a button. This marks the first time the designer has worked with a light source. But it won’t be the last, she says: “I think people are drawn to light like a moth to a flame. I love it.”

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