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“As a gemstone industry person I’m excited about the concept of having a national Opal Centre; I think that’s the most important thing about the project, that it’s for the whole country.”

Terry Coldham
$10,000 AOC Founder
AOC Business Member

With more than 50 years involvement in the Australian gemstone industry, Terry Coldham is somewhat of a legend in industry circles. Inspired by the boldness of the Australian Opal Centre project, Terry is proud to support as a Business Member and, now, also as a Founder.

“My first trip to Lightning Ridge was in 1963 and, although it’s changed so much, it’s always held an important place in the gem industry, particularly in Australia, and also internationally. 

I’ve worked for many years in the industry, and I can safely say that coloured gemstone purchases by consumers are based a great deal on perception of the product. So the better the story behind a coloured stone, the better it will be for sales and the industry as a whole. And the brilliant thing about Australian opal is it has a great story and reputation behind it. 

The Australian Opal Centre (AOC) is a very bold initiative, and I’m very impressed with what it has achieved so far. I love the fact a group of people got together and had the vision to think the project up, and to act on it; it’s very grassroots. A lot of these sorts of things might be pipe dreams and people think ‘oh wouldn’t it be nice to do’, but it’s a very rare thing to actually do it, to get on with it and try your very best. That’s what I think is wonderful about the people involved in it. 

One of the things I’ve always liked about Lightning Ridge is the community feeling and aspect of it, and I really was very impressed when they built the Olympic swimming pool, then the international diving centre – gee, that’s an amazing achievement for a town of this size! So if they can do that, then why not a $30 million Opal Centre?”

As a gemstone industry person, I’m excited about the concept of having a national Opal Centre; I think that’s actually the most important thing about the project, that it’s for the whole country, but also the fact it will be a very unique, environmentally sound building - that’s really the icing on the cake. 

If you have a fantastic display that draws people to come to Lightning Ridge and have a look, engage with its educational and research facilities etcetera – it all comes together to make it a really wonderful experience. I’ve have noticed the amount of interest in opals and opalised fossils has increased enormously since Elizabeth Smith and Jenni Brammall have worked with this. So imagine how much more will be achieved once it’s built?

The fact that Lightning Ridge is an internationally renowned place for opal means it needs an icon like the Sydney Opera House or Ayers Rock. With the AOC it could well be like that. And I think it will do tremendous good for the gemstone industry and for Lightning Ridge itself, deservedly so too. The other opal mining locations around the nation will no doubt be as intimately involved in the project as possible, but Lightning Ridge will represent the industry as a whole very well on an international stage.

I’m sort of semi-retired now, so the legacy of becoming a Founder appeals to me, as I’d like to be remembered as supporting a grand project like this. I think if others don’t get involved at an early stage and become a Founder, they’ll regret it. They’ll say in a year’s time ‘oh I wish I’d done that’ because it gives you a wonderful feeling of participating in something very special. Especially those in this industry, be it as a miner or a dealer or whatever, I really think that you should join me and support the AOC.”

If you’d like to join Terry as an AOC Founder, please click here for a Founders Brochure and Application Form. For more information contact Olivia Ward by calling 0400 225 751 or emailing We look forward to hearing from you!