Congratulations to our latest Student of the Week: Kate Sheehan. I worked with Kate on this piece and we had to overcome her fear of opals. I know so many talented jewelers who won’t touch opals. I think their bad reputation is undeserved. I’ve set tons of opals successfully and I think I have figured out the main problem. Since opals ARE fragile most people have the urge to set them lower in the bezel to “protect” the stone. Then when they try to set, the opal cracks. I find the opal is much more likely to crack during setting than during wear. The key is to set them with only just enough bezel to set with. I use a tiny bit of five minute epoxy and set immediately, not letting the glue dry first. Otherwise, the glue can hold the bezel away from the stone. You still set the stone properly and tightly but the glue means that you can skip that last 20% or so of force at the end of your setting process to make sure your opal isn’t still moving a bit. I use a blue wheel at the end to shine the bezel. [Also controversial } Kate did a beautiful job following these steps. Well Done!