By Lauren Ferrone
From Coober Pedy and Andamooka opal mines to Adelaide’s iconic Beehive Corner, Opal Diamond Factory jewellers father and son, John and Mike Saj-Rynes, are showcasing the best of South Australia.
Opal Diamond Factory is a second-generation family-owned business, and Adelaide’s oldest and largest opal and diamond specialist.
John, who migrated to Australia from the Czech Republic in 1968, became a miner before learning the art of opal cutting and jewellery-making and opening an opal factory in Coober Pedy, where he moved to from Sydney after going broke.
“With dad’s connections, a lot of miners around Australia now come to us when they find something nice,” Mike says.
“He still has a 40-year-old parcel of Andamooka opals which he keeps hidden away in a safe,” he adds.
John was introduced to the opal industry when moving to Coober Pedy from Sydney in 1974 after “going broke”.
The family then opened a shop in McLaren Vale in 1985, before moving to Adelaide in 1990.
With more than 40 years experience in the opal industry, 71-year-old John remains the senior opal cutter at Opal Diamond Factory, now located on King William Street.
His son, Mike, has since taken ownership of the business and continues to work closely with his father.
Opal Diamond Factory use South Australian white and crystal opals from Cooper Pedy and Andamooka, as well as others from Queensland and New South Wales, to create handmade custom and bespoke jewellery in its front of house workshop.
Stef Trigatti joins John and Mike as Opal Diamond Factory’s Swiss born master jeweller, whose couture pieces have been worn by celebrities walking the red carpets at the Golden Globes, Oscars and Logies.
“The customer comes in and we help source an opal or diamond. Stef and myself will go through designing a ring, drawing a sketch, and then Stef will build the ring… everything is done in-house, except for the diamond setting,” Mike says.
“Not many shops can show the whole process to designing and making jewellery. We’re trying to showcase it front of house, so what you see is what you get,” he adds.
Ninety per cent of Opal Diamond Factory’s gold jewellery is made in store, with the team even managing to design and handmake a wedding band in less than two hours.
“The groom came into the shop at 2pm and said he was getting married at 4pm,” Mike laughs.
Mike regularly posts the jewellery-making process via social media.
“We’re trying to make opals contemporary and interesting because it is a beautiful stone,” he says.
Despite well-known clients, Chinese tourists are actually Opal Diamond Factory’s biggest customers.
“They come in, choose a stone and design, and in a couple of days we’ll have it ready for them while they’re still in Adelaide,” Mike says.
“They love the history behind the brand; the family and traditions. It’s the story they want; usually when there’s a story behind something, people tend to buy,” he adds.
Keeping family values central to the business is important.
“As family business, we’re trying to make a name in South Australia; it’s about building our brand in the local market and it’s working.
“Whether it’s a $50 job or a $70,000 like we did the other day, it doesn’t matter. We treat everyone the same… if our jewellery looks good on people, then it looks good for us.”
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