Vicki Bokros, Down To Earth Opals
$10,000 AOC Founder
AOC Sponsor Member
AOC Life Member
Vicki Bokros is a successful opal industry businesswoman who believes in ‘putting her money where her mouth is’. An ardent supporter of the Lightning Ridge community and Australian opal industry, Vicki is a Life Member and Sponsor Member of the Australian Opal Centre, of which she has also twice been president. Vicki is passionate about investing in projects, events and initiatives that have wide-reaching impacts and benefit the economic development of Lightning Ridge and the Australian opal industry.
“I first became involved with the Australian Opal Centre (AOC) about 10 years ago. I was fascinated by the project, by opalised fossils, and the vision this group of amazing people had. It was such an interesting, colossal project for such a small group of people, but because I love the opal industry so much I decided I wanted to be a part of it. It’s one of the best projects that I’ve ever been involved with. It pushes your boundaries and you learn so much because it opens your eyes to such big projects, big opal, big fossils, incredible personalities, big architects, big building, and it’s very inspiring.
The new AOC is vital for so many reasons. Firstly, it will create more opportunities for young people, like myself when I started in the opal industry twenty-six years ago. When I moved to Lightning Ridge there wasn’t much going for females - it is a very male dominated industry and town - and there was just nothing for younger people. So the project provides a long-lasting future for young people out in the bush, real employment opportunities and the chance to learn the skills involved with gemstones, fossils, science and more. It spreads far and wide; I get emotional thinking about that.
It will also without a doubt benefit the Australian opal industry, because there are so many people who want to buy opal but are not confident to purchase because it’s not like any other gemstone. Most of us know the four Cs of diamonds off by heart, but know very little about what to look for in a good quality opal. The Australian Opal Centre will not only attract visitors to Lightning Ridge because of the magnificent Murcutt and Lewin designed building and world-class fossil collection, they will also get to see and experience opal as it really is. And they’ll fall in love with it and be confident to buy it.
The ability to access professional, independent opal certification via the new facility will also be a boon to the industry. Anyone will be able to take their opals in and have them certified - and even as a member of the National Council of Jewellery Valuers who can certify my own stones, I will absolutely have the AOC stamp on certificates for opals that I sell in store and wholesale internationally. It will create a positive feel towards buying more opal, as well as establish confidence and trust, and open up the market greatly. The global opal market is still so small and it could be so much bigger for all Australian opal, not just gems from Lightning Ridge.
Although the facility will be based in Lightning Ridge, by its very name being the ‘Australian Opal Centre’ it will instil confidence in other opal mining locations, benefiting them as well. The current AOC showroom already showcases opals from all Australian opal fields, but the new building offers an even greater opportunity to do this. People who visit these places don’t just come for the opal, they are totally fascinated by the town, the colour and the characters, which are prevalent in all opal mining communities. So once they experience the romance and uniqueness of the Australian opal fields through the Australian Opal Centre, they will no doubt travel to those places to experience it for themselves.
The current showroom does not have the capacity to display our entire amazing collection, which includes a fossil collection unlike anything else in the world. People will come here and see the best of the best, which is a major reason why I became an AOC Founder - because I want everyone to be able to experience the world that I am so lucky to be a part of and see what I do every day. And although what it contains is of such national significance, the Murcutt + Lewin designed building itself will also become a national treasure for Australia. It’s a real gift to the nation.
For people that are not involved in the opal industry, becoming an AOC Founder is a chance to give back to Australia. Opal is our National Gemstone, a precious and rare natural resource, but we do not have a place to celebrate its beauty and the heritage of our opal mining fields and history. The world recognises Australian opal, and particularly black opal, as the best opal in the world. So this is a wonderful opportunity to proudly house it in a world-class building alongside the world’s premier public collection of opalised fossils. It will be something everybody can look at, visit, admire and be in awe of.
Backing the AOC by becoming a Founder is what I believe in, so I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I’ve earned my livelihood from this town and industry, and I always look at how I can invest right here, because this is where I live and work, and I want it to be successful and grow. The opportunity to increase supply as well as demand of Australian opal as a byproduct of the new AOC is huge. More people will be exposed to opal and the opal mining way of life, and that means there will be more opal mined and worldwide demand. It will also provide a wonderful boost to economies in rural locations. So I’m really thinking about the future of the opal industry rather than just for now. And that’s what the AOC is - the future of an industry we should all be proud of and want to support.”
If you’d like to join Vicki 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!