It all started when…
Vince Evert was born in the small Central Queensland town of Winton in 1932. He and his family owned and operated an outback open-air picture cinema (still in existence today one of only 2 left in Australia)
Winton is known in history as the birthplace of Qantas airline in 1920 and where Banjo Paterson wrote the famous Waltzing Matilda in 1895… .. Winton in the present day is known for its proximity to the Queensland Boulder Opal Fields. This recognition can be attributed in the most part to my late father’s pioneering spirit, passion and fascination with the opal which guided his life and that of his extended family.
Vince’s interest in opal began in Primary school when he read in a geography book that Winton was famous for its opal, yet he had never seen or heard of them.
He spent his high school year at boarding school in Brisbane and once remarked to a watch maker that there was supposed to be black opal near Winton: the watchmaker replied
these words were never forgotten.
During the 2nd World War there were American service men in the district who showed a strong interest in the gem. Vince’s father often sold them opal from Lightning Ridge he had purchased from shearers who travelled back and forth between the two towns.
Vince’s father and his friend tried to export Lightning Ridge Black Opal material to the USA towards the end of the war but failed.
Vince took over the family theatre business in the late 1950’s.
Vince’s first venture into opal was in the early 1960’s. Vince borrowed 1000 Pounds to buy a parcel of opal some hobbyist had found near Winton, good quality pipe opal. Vince took it to Sydney and lost heavily.
Undaunted, he purchased an old backhoe, and employing one man he started his own mining venture, he pegged his first lease in 1962. It proved disastrous, Vince struggled to cover the running costs each month and for years subsidised the mining with his other business to the point where it almost broke him. But it was his passion.
Vince later searched out fellow pioneer Des Burton who was having some success in the Quilpie area. Through Des, Vince learnt, how to mine more effectively using heavy equipment, and in order to succeed you need to do your own cutting and marketing both overseas and within Australia .
Television come to the west in the early 1970’s…. The movie business was finished so Vince turned his full attention to the opal business.. it wasn’t easy.
Vince established his own opal cutting workshops , ventured to American and learnt how hard it was to sell a relatively unknown gemstone on the world market.
He brought more machinery, employed more cutters and made more trips to the USA and Europe and strengthened his resources until he finally broke into the markets of Japan, Europe, USA and Asia.
Vince subsequently won 2 export awards from the Australian government and was given government assistance to exhibit at several international gem shows.
As a leader in the industry, he founded the Queensland Boulder Opal Association.
In 1986 Vince had the opportunity to purchase a jewellery store in Townsville (coastal city 7hours drive from the opal mines). This was the beginning of a new chapter. Vince realised the best way to market his product was to control the entire process from the mining, cutting then designing for the manufacturing jewellers and then to retailing this unique gemstone. His vision was to show the world the true potential of one of the world rarest and most beautiful gemstone by controlling the quality of the production ….
Mary Evert - Director of Evert Opals Pty Ltd since 1990 - current comments.
“Dad bought an opal shop….he was an outback lad with no knowledge of fine jewellery retailing. He looked to family members to assist in bringing his dream to life. With 10 children the odds were good to find takers to assist. All my brothers and sisters had gone off into different careers after leaving home/school although all were very well educated in the world of opal that consumed the Evert house hold. I soon realised working for Dad was anything but boring… I am the 7th child in our family. I was a Registered Nurse at the time my father purchased a jewellery store, I decided I would give it go, try my hand at business…
I had met my now husband who coincidentally was a useful mine surveyor…. We tested him in the mines before the family gave him the seal of approval…
The Townsville store was moved to Cairns in 1/10/1990 and still operates in the same location 28 years later. Cairns was a logical choice to relocate to as the city attracted significantly more international tourists due to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef which meant more exposure for our locally mined opals. From our new base in Cairns the Evert Opal brand expanded the business into 6 shops over its 28 year history in the Cairns/Port Douglas area, all specializing in the family opal. Currently in 2018 Evert’s has 2 stores in the Cairns CBD and one store in Port Douglas. Vince(snr) passed away in 1998, his legacy lives on through his children who are all connected to the industry whether it is cutting, mining, retailing or jewellery manufacturing. The Evert stores in Cairns show case one of the worlds finest opal collection. Opal is one of the rarest gemstone on the planet. Every piece is unique, you will never see another like it. I would love you to come and see our beautiful collection, our life’s work.”