bucket list

Like me, I bet most of you have been itching to travel.  Since we’ve been on lock down, I decided to revive a wonderful memory of our “Bucket List” trip to Australia and New Zealand several years ago.  It was unforgettable and extraordinary! So, journey with me to “Down Under”.


I’ve had a bucket list for ages. I think I started it before people were even calling it a bucket list. It includes things like learning new dances and drive cross-country.

And in March 2018, I got to cross one of the biggies off the list: 21 days in Australia and New Zealand.

How was it, you ask? How much time do you have? In short, the trip was AMAZING, AWESOME, FUN, EDUCATIONAL, RELAXING, EXCITING!

Oh, and I found the most amazing opal…and it’s all mine!

Before I jump into the educational stuff, I thought I’d share some of the fun, non-gemstone-related activities, just because it makes me smile to remember it all.



Auckland, New Zealand at the top of the Sky Tower, I did a 45-minute skywalk on the 53rd floor on a 1-meter wide (that’s 39 inches) metal grate walkway with no railings.

Me, overcoming my fear of heights.

Fiordland National Park

Also in NZ. This was a boat ride through the Fiordland National Park, which is mountains that come right to the sea and waterfalls all over the place. Breathtaking!

Sydney Opera House

We saw a show (not an opera) at the Sydney Opera House. It was a modern version of Antony and Cleopatra.

Very different, excellently produced, and I stayed awake for the whole thing!

One of many of the theatres in the Sydney Opera House

The Fringe Festival

In Adelaide, the Fringe Festival is several days of live performances and nighttime light shows.

The changing pictures were projected onto many old buildings in downtown Adelaide. Here’s just one of them.

Gemstones From the Other Half of the World

Because of my love of all types of rocks, I can’t help but keep my eyes peeled for gemstones that are native to the area.

My pre-trip research revealed that opal, chrysocolla, coral, agate, and kyanite come from Australia, and New Zealand Jade comes from, well, New Zealand (surprised?).

Also from New Zealand are amethyst quartz, chalcedony, carnelian, garnet, rhodonite, and argillite.

New Zealand

The most common New Zealand gemstone is New Zealand jade, also known as greenstone or pounamu, which includes the mineral species nephrite and bowenite.

It is beautiful when polished. It is often carved with intricate patterns, as one might expect to see jade.

I did not purchase one for myself…but this is a photo of one that I thought was especially pretty.​

Chalcedony is also commonly found in New Zealand. It commonly has a waxy luster, and I usually see it in a pale aqua color.

This one is a druzy quartz/chalcedony pendant, so it has some sparkle to it.

Garnet pendant


Garnet is another gemstone you’ll see a lot of if you visit New Zealand. The birthstone of January, the deep red is striking.

Argillite, while it can be found almost anywhere, is really quite common in New Zealand.

It forms the “basement rock” of New Zealand. It’s actually a sedimentary rock and is a form of mudstone.

I bought this while I was there. The shape that it’s carved in is their symbol for “new beginnings”.


Chrysocolla earrings 

Chrysocolla is one of those gemstones I really love to work with, so it was familiar when we arrived in Australia and I saw them.

These are just a few of the chrysocolla stones I have in my studio, waiting to be turned into someone’s favorite piece of jewelry.

Australia is probably most known for its opals. This is a picture I took of the world’s largest opal, called “Olympic Australis”.

I did a blog post about opals back in October of 2016.

And I added to my collection the most beautiful opal I think I have ever seen while on vacation.

It has not yet been wrapped, but I’ve been looking at it every day, waiting for it to tell me how, exactly, it wants to be shown off. I’m so familiar with it, I’ve come close to naming her…I mean, um, it.

My new opal…I shall name her…Opal.

New Opal necklace

And here’s the finished piece… not for sale. 

Wishing you many adventures and opportunities to work on your bucket list!

Until next month,

nadines signiture