The mine owners and miners in Lightning Ridge were not stupid. As all of them had survived among rumors and lies, it was not easy to get them to believe the news.
Despite that, in regards to the relationship between Li Du and Blanchett, people did not believe the rumors that Blanchett was scamming Li Du.
This was because Li Du had never found trouble with Blanchett. On the contrary, Li Du was seen carrying presents to his visits with Blanchett, who then invited Li Du into his house and even treated him to dinner.
Everyone in Lightning Ridge knew what kind of a person Blanchett was. If Blanchett was to have scammed someone, he would definitely not invite them into his house, let alone treat them to dinner.
Consequently, people started to wonder if the news of Li Du buying Blanchett’s dogsh*t mine of his own accord and having dug out gemstones from it was true.
On the morning of the second day after visiting Blanchett, Li Du went to an ore cutting workshop. Workshops like this had tools such as waterjets, angle grinders, and handheld grinders specialized for grinding ores.
Right after Li Du and his group entered the workshop, a staff member came over and attended to them. “Hello guys, is there anything you need help with?”
After Godzilla opened up a container and revealed the dozen pieces of rock inside, Li Du said, “Help us grind them and take out the gemstones inside.”
As Li Du had already carried out the initial steps for the grinding of the rocks, faint traces of black opal could be seen.
Seeing the rocks, the staff member exclaimed, “So many gemstones? Oh my God, you sure are lucky. You must have found a black opal vein.”
Li Du hurried him along. “Yes, my luck is decent. A friend of mine helped me procure a good mine. Hurry, I can’t wait to see the gemstones.”
Grinding a piece of rock required 100 AUD. In total, 1,200 dollars was required to grind all the rocks.
Immediately after Li Du handed over the money, someone brought tools out and began grinding the rocks next to Li Du.
The removal of black opal was rather complicated and required the use of various types of tools.
The first tool used was a wet saw. Although wet saws were similar to waterjets, they were less sophisticated, used an iron saw for cutting, and were mainly used for cutting and polishing.
The advantage of using a wet saw was the high efficiency, while the disadvantages of using a wet saw were the large amount of waste, high level of danger, and likelihood of causing an accident.
Despite that, the staff member operating the wet saw was experienced, and his mastery over it was as if he were using his own arms and fingers.
The staff member picked up a piece of rock and placed it on the wet saw operating table. The wet saw operating table was approximately one meter high, 60 centimeters wide, and 80 centimeters long, and could be used to used to cut thick rocks.
With the on-off switch switched on, the wet saw began spinning and splashing droplets of water. After the staff member placed the piece of rock onto the operating table, a crunching noise could be heard, and pieces of shattered rock started flying out.
The staff member concentrated his attention on the rock. Once a small trace of the gemstone within the rock was exposed, the staff member would immediately stop the wet saw and change the angle at which the rock was cut.
Having briefly watched the staff member, Li Du felt that the money was very well spent, as it was very rare for someone to be able to grind rocks and not harm the gemstone in the slightest.
There were also a few miners shopping in the workshop. After noticing that there was someone removing gemstones, the miners came over excitedly. Seeing the gemstone becoming more and more visible in the wake of the rock being cut by the wet saw, the miners exclaimed, “A large piece of gemstone. With Mother Mary watching, I bet that the gemstone is four times the standard size.”
“Definitely a large gemstone. Its color is so good, look at its play-of-color. Even if it isn’t four times the standard size, this fella is still extremely valuable!”
“Oh my God, why am I never this lucky?”
“Not just lucky, mate. It’s an explosion of luck! It has been a long time since I have seen such an outstanding gemstone.”
After the wet saw had cut off the corners and edges of the rock, most of the gemstone’s body could be seen, so even more onlookers came over to take a peek.
All 12 pieces of rock contained high-quality gemstones. As each piece of rock was cut open, exclamations could be heard one after another.
After being cut open by the wet saw, the rocks still had to be ground by the angle grinder.
Angle grinders, which were the most commonly seen handheld processing tools, could be used to cut, grind, and polish stones as well as remove black opals from rocks.
When an angle grinder was in use, people could no longer stand very close to it. As the grinder ground the rock into very tiny pieces and splattered them at very high speeds, it was very easy for the eyes of the people nearby to be injured by the flying debris.
After being processed by those two tools, the black opals were more or less completely visible. Despite that, there was still a need to use other tools. For example, there was still a need to use a scaler for a final grinding.
Scalers, which were very commonly used by dentists, had an extremely fine, small drill that could be used to clean people’s teeth.
Gemstone scalers were basically modified dental scalers. Having been modified to be more sensitive, the back of the drills of gemstone scalers had a small spring that would cause the drill to retract once it experienced a change in pressure.
Although black opals were relatively fragile, they were harder than the rocks that encased them.
This allowed gemstone scalers to be used to remove the final small pieces of rock on the black opals without harming the gemstones.
With the series of processes completed, everyone could see the pieces of black opal in their original state.
As the number of gemstones that had been removed in one go was huge, even the workshop’s boss was attracted by them.
After the grinding was completed, the boss used a piece of deerskin leather to wrap the black opals before he carefully handed them over to Li Du and said, “Sir, please examine them. Is everything to your satisfaction?”
Li Du picked up the largest piece of opal. When he placed the gemstone in a ray of sunlight shining through the workshop’s window, dazzling rays of light suddenly appeared.
The gemstone had a greyish black background color and had a blue, purple, and crimson play-of-colors at the top. With the ray of sunlight passing through the gemstone, the different play-of-colors gave off different rays of light.
Li Du slowly rotated his wrist. As the angle of the sunlight shining on the gemstone changed, the play-of-colors also changed.
Someone exclaimed, “That’s a genuine black opal. It’s at least an N2 black opal!”
Black opals were categorized into nine different grades, N1 to N9. Among the grades, N1 was the highest grade and was also the grade with the highest value. Black opals that were in this grade had a pure black body.
N2 was already a very high grade. Black opals that had an N1 grade were extremely rare. In a month, there might not even be an N1 grade black opal found in Lightning Ridge. Once they were found, they would definitely be highly sought after by gemstone merchants.
With an N2 grade and a very large size, the piece of gemstone in Li Du’s hand was very rare and would also be highly sought after by gemstone merchants.
While the piece of opal was rotating, the onlookers were all mesmerized.
Yet, this was still not the actual appearance of the black opal. Just like diamonds, black opals would also need to be cut, and it was only after they had been that they were able to display their unrivaled beauty.
After looking through the 12 gemstones one by one under the sunlight, Li Du kept them.
Even before Li Du left the workshop, there was already a gemstone merchant looking for him. The gemstone merchant asked, “Sir, are you interested in selling those gemstones? I am willing to give a good price.”
Li Du asked, “How much?”
“For the piece of gemstone with the N2 grade, I am willing to give you 500,000,” a middle-aged man interrupted from behind.