I've never seen a hat quite like it. The piece above is titled the "Deep Blue Sea" and was created by Australian master milliner Ann Maree Willett and opal miners Vicki and Peter Drackett to showcase opals mined at Australia's famous Lightning Ridge. The hat will be sold at the "Nature of Opals" sale at Bonhams & Butterfields, San Francisco on November 10. The hat is formed from hand-blocked Australian felt, decorated with bright feathers and carrying 26 opals weighing approximately 1,447 carats. The opals were carved into beautiful microsculptures by Daniela L'Abbate and Christine Roussel and placed in sterling silver and 18-karat gold settings by master goldsmith Gerd Gerold Schulz. It is estimated at between $150,000 and $200,000 which would place it among the most expensive hats ever sold at auction. The world's most expensive hat is the Chapeau d'Amour-the "hat of love"-created by designer Louis Mariette. It is made of woven platinum and covered in diamonds and has a value of $2.7 million.
The sale also includes a wide variety of the types of opals available from brown boulder opals shot through with blue flashes, to orangy fire opals and plenty of white opals showing bright rainbow fire. Many lots are intricately carved and some are opalized fossils of flora and fauna. Before the November 10 auction, Bonhams & Butterfields will hold highlight presentations in Los Angeles October 1-3 and New York October 16-18, followed by a full preview in San Francisco from November 6-9.
[via National Jeweler]