Gem Hunting Mexican Fire Opals in Mexico!
Wow, what a trip that was. Transformational both inside and out. I bit the bullet and decided to leap from England and prayed that a net would appear on the ‘other side’ - that being Mexico.
After suffering a year with my business in lockdown and me sat at home doing everything I could to rebuild by business from the ‘ashes’ - clinging on like a lot of us, as soon as Boris Johnson announced a third lockdown and the new strain of covid coming, I was out.
I looked into the gemstones that Mexico had to offer, awakened my gem hunting senses to the Mexican fire opal, packed my tools, left my dog with my twin brother, called a friend in Mexico who kindly offered me a roof over my head and off I went to Heathrow Airport.
One of best decisions I have made in my life to date.
Rocking my latest remodelled engagement ring set with one of my amazing Mexican fire opals from my gem hunt.
To say I felt frightened and full of anxiety travelling in a global pandemic would be an understatement. Everything was in flux; my business was stationary and all of my cash flow had stopped. But I just knew it was right for me to go, and I could feel that there was magic waiting for me to discover on the ‘other side'.
Having a sweet party for one and my anxiety levels transformed into excitement.
I took my business model of gem hunting, ‘following my nose’ for business opportunities and collection inspiration, and leapt onto the wings of British Airways and at least ten double gin and tonics all the way to Mexico.
What a great decision that was, gin included.
First stop was Mexico City. The only place where they make blue tacos! Obvs I ate one and typically discovered I am 100% allergic to corn. Perfecto!
As I started my journey in Mexico, I quickly realised that these gemstones (which were a new discovery to me) symbolised my very own current personal life and business experience. Mexican fire opals are born of fire. They are literally formed from trapped lava in rocks from ancient Mexican volcanos. Taking millions of years to form, they are a mesmerising gemstone, born from the ashes and perfectly epitomise the glorious fire you see from a volcano. And what does this represent? The Phoenix rising from the ashes.
To me, the gemstone illustrates the ways the pandemic has transformed our societies and us.
Mexico was just what I needed to come back ‘alive’ and remember who I am! Every bit of their culture is about living, celebrating life, and celebrating death - it's full of vibrancy and colour. Again, this perfectly symbolises the Mexican fire opal, Mother Nature teaching us that even from the most destructive of experiences, new life, new hope and even beauty can be born.
As soon as I landed, I got to work straight away finding the source of the Mexican fire opal and off I went to Magdalena on the bus! Which literally dropped us off on the side of the motorway. Here I am massively goofing out giving Magdalena the 'thumbs up'. I am a geek, and that is passion for you baby, it changes you.
Just call me Steve Irwin. RIP. What a legend that man was.
Off I go to the opal mines. Very excited and slightly hung over from drinking too much Tequila, in Tequila. What else are you going to do in Tequila?! No regrets there. However, feeling slightly jaded but still absolutely loving life! There is nothing like a pair of Wayfarers to hide a multitude of sins, eh.
First stop was the Goat Birria Taco stand! Famous for the best taco in town. This is a traditional breakfast for Mexicans. Served with a rich goat broth and approximately four double shots of local tequila. I mean, what's not to love? At first, I was a little reluctant. I don't 'think' I've eaten goat for breakfast before, or drank four shots of tequila at the start of a 'business working day' but when in Rome, as they say - and down the hatch all of it went. Classic Brit and it's bloody delicious! I couldn't believe just how delicious. I guess it's a typical 'reverse Saturday night' in England, eh? Kebabs (with god knows what in it) and strong alcohol, one after another for full effect. And this is what the Mexicans call 'breakfast'. Another grand reason to love this country!
Fresh oregano, fresh goat taco, fresh goat broth. And some piping hot chillies on the side, just in case I want to completely blow my head off before work.
And off to the mines we went - pissed as newts. There is nothing quite like a Mexican breakfast or an original Volkswagen red Beetle. I mean, bring it on. Absolutely loving José’s style. What a dude. Gonna get me one of these on my return trip. Stick my surf board on the roof, pooch in the back and the rest of the space I’ll cram with opals. Looking forward to my next trip in November already!
Slightly hairy journey on the way there...
And we have arrived! Safe and sound. Despite nearly flying out of the car door en route. Ah well, there's nothing quite like living life by the seat of your pants, litch. Now let's get me some rocks!!!
Here I am blissing out happy as a pig in you know what, at the bottom of an opal mine in Magdalena, Mexico.
I love nothing more than a gem hunt. I am officially in my happiest place, can you tell? Digging for precious treasure (terribly) straight from the ground. Those tequilas were definitely kicking in.
It was such an honour and a joy to meet the minors. They work so insanely hard just to find one piece of opal! And the heat here was like being in an oven. Even my bloody eyeballs were hot! It’s hard to believe such beauty comes straight out from the rubble like this. I couldn’t be happier or more excited to be here amongst the crazy heat and the red volcanic rock. I must of been a gemstone in my past life.
Having a dig for opals. It's hammer time, baby.
When I arrived to the first opal mine, the miners had this stunning little nugget of rough opal to show me! This little piece here took the miners a whole week to find! An insane amount of hard work goes into finding these gemstones. So much respect to these amazing men, their craft and their commitment.
Here are the lads. This very section of wall is where they hammered that little piece of opal from. Legends!
Time to leave the mine and get back to some serious opal dealing with my new friends. Seeing how hard these boys work, gratitude is the attitude whenever I buy a gemstone again. Touched at the work that goes into sourcing these magical gemstones and in awe of mother nature's incredible work as ever. I feel so lucky to be alive and experience all of this.
Right - back to work! Here I am scouring through the first packet of matrix opals. I went through this selection the day before, slept on it and came back the next day for round two of my mince pies so I could carefully select the best ones. I find it is always best to do it like this. I finally narrowed my 'top selection' to eleven superb quality Mexican fire opals and I couldn't be happier. I also made a wonderful new and trusted friend in the industry, Luis!
After a very long day and night selecting the best opals Luis and I shook hands on a great deal and a 'thank you' hug. As you can see, I pretty much fell asleep on him. Six hours sleep in two days, a lot of tequila and way too much excitement for me. Think 'kid at six on Christmas morning'. Funny though, when you are doing what you love you just keep going no matter how knackered you are. Gem hunting is definitely my happy place and I cannot wait to come back here - next trip I will be learning to polish my own stones! Eeek so exciting!
Check out just a few of my glorious finds below...
Here is one of my favourite opal finds of the trip. This stunning, insane beauty of a gem is a matrix boulder opal. It’s as if there is a coral reef living inside of the gem. 59 carats of fire. Incredible.
There is so much beauty in this piece with all of the fire and all of the colours of the rainbow. I'll say it again. Mexican fire opals are born from the fire of ancient Mexican volcanos, its doesn’t really get cooler or more powerful than that.
This blew my mind too. A whopping 22 carat matrix Mexican fire opal. This piece flashes her fire in the sunlight and the shade. A great trick to know the stone has top quality fire.
This stunning piece has been swooped up for a beautiful bespoke pendant. My first commission out of quarantine and I cannot wait to make it. There is nothing like having something custom made with a gemstone hand selected, straight from the source.
Look at this stunning matrix fire opal. A whopping seven carats of pure natural beauty. I transformed this into a remodelled engagement ring
This exquisite ring below is a redesign of Victoria’s old engagement ring. I took her old stone out and replaced it with this stunning and personally sourced matrix fire opal.
Bespoke redesign of Victoria's existing engagement ring
I decided to mix up my metals and set this beautiful stone in yellow gold to really make her ‘pop’. I also replaced the old sapphires with yellow gold balls and soldered them on to Victoria’s white gold ring. I absolutely love the contrast of the white and yellow gold metals with the purple-green hues of this stone. What a corker.
Those flashes of green and purple mimic the iridescent feathers of a peacock and Aurora lights. Just so beautiful.
And what a transformation! Take a look at Victoria’s old engagement ring below before my redesign...
Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for bespoke enquiries if you need to have one of these stunners in your life or if you have an old ring you would like me to bring back to life. Below is the lovely Victoria, such a pleasure to revamp her ring. A very special woman and soul indeed.
The lovely Victoria rocking her Phoenix from the ashes 'power ring'!
Mexico made the sun rise in my heart again. After a crushing year, watching sunsets and getting back in touch with myself and nature, I finally turned the corner I had been looking for.
San Pancho sunsets. Home.
Before I left for my trip, I was metaphorically speaking - in the gutter. However, I was still striving to look for the stars. A lovely friend of mine from whom I was seeking advice (who happens to be a business coach) said to me "It is time to practise what you preach, Rosie. Your jewellery is about empowerment - so empower yourself. Walk the talk". How right he was.
This whole experience has been a real teacher for me - to get back to my roots, my purpose, my why. To remind myself of what really makes me happy, and to do it! Connecting back myself and serving people with a deep and inspired intention of personal empowerment - not just making beautiful jewellery.
This trip and magical gemstones to me symbolise the Phoenix being born from the ashes, a reminder that it’s time to rise again as a more beautiful, powerful you and to spread your wings of vast potential and show the world what you can do. This is what Mexico - despite all odds - did for me.
Life is to be lived. Take it by the horns and make it what you want it to be. No one is to be the judge of how to live your life accept you. In the blink of an eye it can all be gone. So choose to live and while you are at it, do it with the intention to inspire those around you. We are all birds in trapped cages to a degree. The minute you choose to free yourself you automatically give others around you permission to free themselves.
Life is to be lived, people are to be loved and treasured and we are all here to help each other come home to ourselves a little bit closer than we were yesterday.
I always mark a gem hunting trip with a ring for myself. And seeing as Mexican fire opals are born from fire and ash, it’s no better time to adorn myself with a ring that represents my own personal Phoenix rising from the ashes from this crazy global pandemic.
What a year it has been. Deeply challenging and transformational inside and out. Bring on the rest of 2021 - it is time to roar fire.
Thank you Mexico you have been amazing. Heart-warming, healing and life-changing. What an incredible four month, perspective altering experience.
I couldn’t be happier with my high-end selections of fire opals, a collection that marks the Phoenix rising from the ashes. That’s us, that’s you, that’s me.
What a blast. Self empowerment is Queen.
Just like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it is time to rise again. It’s power time. England here I come...
My personal inspiration from my incredible experience in Mexico...
Here is a beautiful poem that my sister tagged me in on Facebook. I was really missing home at the time and feeling insecure. Her timing was perfect. Thank you Helen!
Advice from María Sabina, a Mexican healer and poet.
“Cure yourself with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon.
With the sound of the river and the waterfall.
With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds.
Heal yourself, with mint, neem, and eucalyptus.
Sweeten yourself with lavender, rosemary, and chamomile.
Hug yourself, with the cocoa bean and a hint of cinnamon.
Put love in tea instead of sugar
and take it looking at the stars.
Heal yourself, with the kisses that the wind gives you
and the hugs of the rain.
Get strong with bare feet on the ground
and with everything is born from it.
Get smarter every day by listening to your intuition,
looking at the world with the eye of your forehead.
Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier.
Heal yourself, with beautiful love, and always remember ...
You are the medicine.”
All my love and fire,