Our Story

Having always been one for following adventure, Chris Cheal, at age 27, found himself in a place that burned his intrigue like never before. A place as far outback as New South Wales extends. A place surrounded by desert, overlooked by a scorching sun, and terrain as flat as can be. The small country town of Lightning Ridge doesn’t look like much from the outside, but on the inside, is home to the most beautiful gem in the world, black opal. From the moment Chris Cheal stepped foot into Lightning Ridge and saw a black opal, he was there to stay. Hooked by what he still refers to this day, “The Opal Fever”.
At the age of 27, Chris Cheal traded his life and moved to Lightning Ridge in anticipation of starting his first opal mine. With a jackhammer and a 50m x 50m mining lease to his name, he got digging.
Chris fell in love with the art of opal mining, and the thrill of finding the gemstone. Constantly looking to learn, he pursued various opal claims in the Lightning Ridge surrounding area, partnering with veterans, mates and rookies like him. Like many miners, he was on the rollercoaster of opal. Some years finding pockets, other years finding nothing. Either way, he was determined to make it work for his family; working in a coal mine on weekends, contracting driving all over Australia in his truck, building machinery for other miners. Whatever was required to keep his dream alive while the opal wasn’t coming, he did.
With a true love for the gemstone, Chris still to this day finds himself lost while observing the colours in an Australian opal, priding himself on being the first human to see the opal – in the wall of the mine – after the 60 million uninterrupted years it takes for the gemstone to form.  
Nearly 30 years after discovering Lightning Ridge, Chris gets to share the honour of finding opal with his kids. Rory Cheal, Oscar Cheal and Luca Cheal also found themselves subject to ‘the opal fever’ at a young age. The shared dream of the family – to provide people with the best opal in the world, directly from where it’s discovered – is being fulfilled through Cheal Opal. Each opal carefully found in Lightning Ridge, delicately polished, meticulously designed & set into jewellery by the family, is truly a reality Chris Cheal would’ve never imagined when he first moved to the opal fields all those years ago.