The Australian Opal Exhibition returned to the Gold Coast for the first time in almost three years in a great show of fine gems and good friends.
The exhibition was held at the QT Gold Coast from 4–5 August and, from the first moments, buzzed with keen buyers. JW Mag attended and was impressed to see a busy fair with many exhibitors and buyers glad to get back into some sort of normal after a two year absence of the fair due to COVID. First impressions were of a well-organised and well set-out event enabling the trade to get back together and into some quality face-to-face business.
01 Breanna Mitchell, the 2022 Opal Queen, crowned on 30 July as part of the Lightning Ridge Opal Festival, attended the exhibition as part of her role as ambassador for the Lightning Ridge community. Breanna received her accolade from the NSW Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beasley, who attended the Lightning Ridge Opal Festival in July. The festival donates 15 percent of its proceeds to local charities and Breanna raised money for Mission Australia.
Maxine O’Brien, the organiser of the show, was both relieved and excited to see the exhibition take shape again after so long.
“It’s really busy!” she said. “The first morning has been brilliant and we’re so pleased. There’s actually a great atmosphere here, especially after three years of the industry not getting together. It appears that a lot of money is changing hands, which is always good.”
Maxine shared her thoughts on how the opal industry fared over the COVID years. It is a sector of the jewellery industry that is more affected by tourism than other sectors.
“It’s been difficult,” she admitted. “Mainly because we’re a small industry. While many dealers were able to get goods onto shelves, we’ve really missed getting together. Over the last three years we’ve missed two shows here on the Gold Coast.”
The obvious success of the exhibition has returned a sense of optimism to most opal merchants.
“We’re seeing a lot of old faces and new visitors to the show, which is a definite highlight,” Maxine said. “We have had visitors from all over Australia, New Zealand and we had international registrations from Japan, Thailand and India,” she added.
The president of the Australian Opal Exhibition is Janice Evert, of Janice Evert Opals. She was also exhibiting and agreed that trade was brisk over both days.
“There’s been a lot of business happening,” she said. “So yes, it’s been good. It’s just great to see the enthusiasm here with so many visitors and busy exhibitors.”
Janice acknowledged the work that had gone into the organisation of the show and shared that she found the new format very conducive to business.
“There are fewer exhibitors here than in the past, but I think that’s to be expected,” she said. “But the show’s more precise on setup and very well organised which has resulted in a great response. Everyone’s happy.”
The annual dinner was held at the Edgewater Dining and Lounge Capri at Surfers Paradise which was a delicious meal and a great time socialising for all.