Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Bead adventures in Thailand (2): Mr. Ahmed's cabachons
I made quite a purchase today – several gemstone cabachons. I stumbled across a shop called Silver Arts, 50, Loikroh Road (the moat end) whilst on the search for some Hill Tribe silver beads and despite the shop’s name it specialises in cabochons. The cabachons are made from a wide range of gemstones in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Mr. Fahim Ahmed, the manager told me that he can make cabochons to order from any gemstone in any particular shape and/or size. This is because he buys gemstones and opals ‘in the rough’ from merchants (e.g. in Australia and Thailand), sends them to be cut and polished in his own factory in Mumbai and then sells them from his shop in Chiang Mai. I spent a delightful time rummaging through plastic baskets full of gemstone cabachons before settling on the ones that I bought. Each time I showed an interest in a cabachon more made from different types of gemstones seemed to miraculously appear from plastic bags stacked inside a filing cabinet in the corner of Mr. Ahmed's tiny shop. The cabachons are sold by weight with prices per gram varying according to the specific gemstone. I bought two fabulous Botswana agate cabs that recall art deco shapes, lovely small Rhodochrosite cabs in geometric shapes with beautiful pink and cream veins and fabulous rich coloured blue and aqua azurite cabs. My favourite find were the dendritic white opal cabachons (pictured above) (also known as Moss opal) that Mr. Ahmed pulled from his filing cabinet draw to show me. Each cabachon looks like a piece of beautiful Japanese ink art to me. I can’t wait to use one of the cabachon’s in a piece of beaded art. Unfortunately, the pictures I have been able to take here don't do them justice - they are a lovely milky cream with a beautiful sheen to them with very delicate dark green veins. The cabs are nestled on a lovely silk scarf that I bought at a silk shop just near by. In the strange way of beading, my opal cabachons are like me, Australian. Mr. Ahmed buys his rough opals from Australia. Nearly 95% of all moss opals are found in Australia - the most famous deposits are at Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs in New South Wales, and at at Coober Peddy and Andamooka in South Australia. Unfortunately, he couldn't tell me just where mine are from. However, I do know they have travelled from Australia somewhere to Mumbai, then on to Chiang Mai and now will head back to their home country again.
For those interested in beading and gemstone trivia, the name opal is meant to be derived from Sanskrit "upala," meaning "valuable stone." and the root for the Greek term "opallios," translates as "color change." Opals are said to relieve depression and to help those who wear them fine true love.
I was planning to sell a couple of my opal cabs on Etsy in a new beading supplies shop I’m working on called Dax’s Bead Boutique but I am not sure I’ll part with them! If I do sell them on Etsy I wonder where they will travel to next and who might find cheer and true love through them? Off for more beading adventures after a cooling riverboat trip this afternoon.