Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Opalised pearls at SAM

A magnified photo of the stunning opalised pearls. Picture: SA Museum.

Clare Peddie, The world’s first opalised pearls are on show at SA Museum, The Advertiser, 5 February 2016

Scientists have confirmed the discovery of the world’s first opalised pearls, unearthed in Coober Pedy and now on display at the SA Museum Opals exhibition.

The pearls date back to the Cretaceous period, when the area was covered by the Eromanga Sea, and are at least 65 million years old.

Opal miners Tanja Burk and Dale Price from TADA Opals found the extraordinary specimens among opalised shells in Dora Gully at Twelve Mile Opal Field about a decade ago.

However, it was not until they loaned them for the exhibition that museum officials had them tested.

Neutron imaging technology at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Lucas Heights revealed the telltale concentric growth bands formed during pearl development.

SA Museum earth scientist Dr Ben Grguric said fossilised pearls were very rare and opalised pearls were completely unheard of.

Read more

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2022
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. No claim is made as to the accuracy or authenticity of the content of the website. The Council of Australasian Museum Directors does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided on this website. The information on our website is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. No responsibility is taken for any information or services which may appear on any linked web sites. Hostgator.