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On Floating Opals

— Welch’s Floating Opal —

by Meg Andrews

COPYRIGHT© 2010-2014 MEG ANDREWS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Photo of double pendant necklace I have vivid childhood memories of looking through my mother’s jewelry box and being transfixed by her floating opal earrings. Time seemed to stand still as I turned them over and over to see their fascinating displays of color and motion. Recently, after purchasing an enchanting double floating opal necklace, I found myself transfixed once again. And I began to wonder: who had created such an intriguing and unusual form of jewelry, and when was it first made? Little did I know that finding the answers to those simple questions would take months of research, and would lead to the discovery of a quite remarkable and nearly forgotten story.

Appearing much like a miniature snow globe, the floating opal is essentially comprised of small chips of opal encased in a liquid-filled glass orb. Although floating opals are still manufactured today,  the jewelry we recognize as vintage reached the peak of its demand in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Floating opal jewelry, in the form of pendant necklaces and earrings, was enormously popular during that period and was manufactured by innumerable companies. Surprisingly though, it was decades earlier that the floating opal was first introduced. And remarkably, its inventor was not a jeweler, but a 50-year-old, Stanford-educated, patent-holding mechanical engineer. Beginning in 1920, in a venture that would take him through the rest of his life, Horace H. Welch patented, perfected, manufactured, and marketed his invention—transforming it, and himself, along the way. 

 

Horace H. Welch: Mechanical Engineer/Inventor

One has to wonder what would prompt a man, whose previous patents included carburetors, speedometers, fuel indicators, an early car alarm, and a mechanical pencil, to invent and patent a process for manufacturing jewelry. Was it a mid-life crisis? Was it a woman? The truth is that we may never know. What is known is that within two years of receiving his first patent for what would become the floating opal, Horace Welch left a seemingly successful career in Chicago and moved to New York City to begin manufacturing and selling his “Gem.”

patent drawing of car alarm 1913Horace Herbert Welch was born in 1871, the second son of a country doctor, in La Cygne, Kansas. Census data show the family living in Kansas through the year 1885, but by 1900, much of his family had moved to Los Angeles, California. Within that time frame, Horace attended Harvard University for a year (1892-93) and graduated from Leland Stanford Junior University (1897) with an A.B. degree in physics. Little is known of him from that time until August of 1910, when at the age of 39, he filed for his first patent. In that application for the patent of a ”Speed Indicator,” Welch acted as assignor to the Stewart-Warner Speedometer Corporation of Chicago.  In the following years through 1920, Welch applied for no less than thirteen1 mechanical and electrical patents from various locations including Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee.

That Horace was an intelligent man is without question. One has only to read the multitudinous pages of his 24 known patents to observe his quite brilliant and meticulous mind. His dramatic pen style revealed also a great capacity for showmanship and promotion — qualities that would serve him well in the jewelry industry. Because he never married and lived so far away from his California relatives, living family members know little of him but do report that the family considered him eccentric.

 

Welch’s Patents: The Development of The Floating Opal

Chart shows patent filing and issuance datesFor an accurate timeline of the development of “The Floating Opal,” it is best to look at the patents2 in the order that they were filed rather than when they were issued. (See chart.) Welch’s first application for what would become the floating opal was filed in January of 1921, and was entitled simply …“Gem.” It was approved swiftly by U.S. patent standards in June of 1922 and given the number 1,421,329.

The patent was very general in nature and consisted of a single page of drawings and only two and a half pages of description. In flowery language, Welch wrote that his invention pertained “to a novel and pleasing type of gem or jewel adapted for many and varied uses, particularly in the production of jewelry.” He mentioned opals only in passing, and described instead that the shell could be filled loosely with  “the well-known sparkling granular ‘metallics’ of the trade, or...crumpled pieces of gold leaf, tinsel or the like.” He stated that the jewelry could be made with or without liquid using a single loose gem or a number of display elements, and he included the rather impractical examples of a ring and a strand of beads.

Even before that first patent was granted, a May 1922 publication of The Stanford Illustrated Review noted its alumnus as follows:

’97-Horace H. Welch, mechanical engineer, originally of Los Angeles, and for the last few years of Chicago,
has invented and patented more than twenty mechanical devices for electrical and other machinery.
One of his latest inventions is a heavy colorless liquid in a tiny glass globe holding minute bits of
colorful opal to be used for cheap rings and necklace pendants. 

There, for the first time, was the commitment to opals and necklace pendants. Sometime in the year and a half between his patent application and that publication, Horace’s tinsel-filled novelty had made the leap toward becoming a floating opal. Just how he came to conclude that opal fragments should be the display elements is hard to guess. It is likely that he was searching for something attractive yet inexpensive, as his goal was to produce a new and cheaper form of “high-grade” jewelry. The opal, with its history of being both prized and shunned, was enjoying a new wave of popularity, and owing to its fragility, fragments were “common and of low cost.” Whatever it was that led Horace to the opal, his subsequent applications show a definite shift in focus and a significant concentration on displaying the opal’s colors most advantageously.

Apparently, there were initial production problems related to the gem’s fragility and its tendency to break. In August and November of 1924, Welch filed his second and third patent applications, in which he detailed the necessary improvements and added many very specific enhancements. In contrast to the first, these applications were quite voluminous and present strong evidence that Welch had growing concerns about protecting his invention. Although he offered a multitude of variables, several essential elements emerged that came to comprise the floating opal as we know it today. 

Most importantly and in simple form, those elements were:

1.     The introduction of the bubble within the globe as a necessary air space that allowed for the expansion of the liquid without fracturing the glass housing.

2.     The method for constructing a second smaller chamber above the main display chamber that allowed the liquid to expand, and served to trap the bubble where it could be hidden. (Ever the engineer, Welch referred to this two-chamber model as “double globular.”)

3.     The introduction of glycerin as the liquid suspension. While Welch stated that a variety of liquids could be used, he concluded that glycerin enhanced the brilliancy of the opals, provided the ideal viscosity for motion, and acted as a preservative of the chips. (Research confirms that glycerin was and is the industry standard.)

 4.     The preference for using the relatively new invention3 of Pyrex® glass as the housing. Not only did Pyrex® provide a stronger housing, but when used in combination with glycerin (which has a similarly high refractive index), the two virtually disappeared to produce the “illusion of a unitary large opal.”

 

Welch’s second and third applications did not enjoy the same swift approval as his first. (One would take almost 8 years and the other nearly six.) Apparently at the request of the Patent Office, Welch filed yet another application in November of 1925. That fourth application was a division of his still pending second application. (A division is usually requested when an application contains too many ideas.) Other patent struggles were revealed in a 1929 U.S. Court of Claims ruling, which disclosed that the Patent Office had rejected some of Welch’s claims and denied his subsequent appeals. That 1929 ruling reversed the Patent Office’s denial and in the following three years, Welch’s pending applications were finally patented.

 

H. H. Welch: Jeweler

Examples of Floating Opals 1930sEight years after his first floating opal patent, 1930 census data showed Welch living in Manhattan. At age 59, his occupation was listed as “jeweler.” His transformation was complete. He had chucked his engineering career to wholeheartedly embrace his jewel invention. Somehow, even with a deepening depression and several patents still pending, he had managed to successfully produce, promote and sell the floating opal.   

After his 1922 patent, Welch wasted no time getting to the production and sale of his floating opal jewelry, and all indications are that it was a hit. In the spring of 1924, newspaper fashion articles and display ads appeared heralding floating opals as a fascinating new mode. In 1926, jewelry store display ads were touting the floating opal as “a gem worthy the treasure chest of a queen.” 

By all accounts, the H. H. Welch Company4 was a modest operation with a small manufacturing facility. It is likely, in fact, that Welch produced many of the floating opals himself. He apparently enjoyed success selling his invention to jewelry stores nationwide and he continued to promote it as a “new jewel” well into the 1930s. His final floating opal patents were issued in 1931 and 1932, and there was another big promotional push at that time including a brief article in Scientific American magazine.  Probably as a result of the Great Depression, demand seems to have dampened by the late 1930s, and the ads and articles appeared less frequently.

Welch continued to produce floating opals until his unexpected death in 1947. The 1940s had not been without challenge. As early as 1943, Coro began advertising a line of “genuine floating opals” and Welch did what any patent holder would do: he sued for patent infringement. Sadly, the suit was not settled until 1951, and Horace did not live to see it. After his death, his brother and nephew spent months in New York working to settle the estate. They sold the business to Robert Rose and as late as 1966, H. H. Welch, Inc. was still listed in the Jeweler’s Circular Keystone as a supplier of floating opal jewelry.

In 1949, twenty-seven years after the floating opal’s first appearance, Welch’s final patent expired, leaving the door open to any and all manufacturers. And they did not hesitate to step through it. Newer technology allowed faster production and floating opals proliferated the market. No longer limited to jewelry stores, floating opals were widely available and sold in department stores nationwide. Perhaps remembering their mothers’ floating opals, women embraced this “new” jewel with zeal. Floating opal jewelry became a popular bridal accessory, and many wedding announcements included statements like, “the bride’s only jewelry was a floating opal pendant,” or “the bride wore a pair of floating opal earrings, a gift from the groom.”

Although Horace Welch had no way of knowing that his floating opal would continue to be appreciated, coveted and manufactured into the 21st century, I am certain that he knew it was something quite extraordinary. Using his scientific knowledge, keen mechanical mind and dogged persistence, he combined glass, glycerin, and some broken opals to construct an enchanting new jewel. The Floating Opal was his masterpiece and its creation showed that this eccentric engineer had the heart of an artist.

 

 

 

Identifying, Dating, and Assessing Welch’s Floating Opals

The Cap Markings

Cap with October 1931 Patent DateWelch’s floating opal pendants* can be identified and dated by the markings on their decorative caps. (Necklace chains should not be used for identification purposes as they were often supplied by the retailer.) All of Welch’s early pendants were set in fine gold and the gold content (14K or 18K) is marked on the cap. The early caps are also marked with patent information and that is how they can be dated.

  • Caps marked “PAT. 6.27.22” date from 1922 to 1929. These are the earliest floating opals.
  • Caps marked “PATS. PEND.” were probably manufactured between 1929 (after the U.S. Court of Claims ruling) and 1931. Welch would have used this mark as he waited for his second, third and fourth patents.
  • Caps marked “PAT. 10.13.31,” refer to Welch's patent 1,827,695 and were made after October 13, 1931 and into the 1930s.
  • Caps marked simply “PAT.” most likely date after the final patent date of March 22, 1932.

It is very probable that Welch’s floating opals continued to be marked with some form of patent information until 1949, when the last patent expired.

There are other Welch’s floating opals with cap styles different than those I have shown. However, all that I have seen have been marked in one of the ways listed above.

*I have never seen a Welch floating opal ring although jewelry store ads indicate that they were manufactured through the early 1930s. I assume that they too, would have been marked with patent information.

 

Another Surprise—Invisible Solids

In Welch’s third patent application, I was surprised to discover that he recommended adding “invisible solid parts,” in the form of bits of Pyrex® glass, to the opal chips. He stated that this addition decreased the cost and that because the parts essentially became invisible, they spaced the gems and improved their beauty by “increasing the number of reflecting gem surfaces.” Close examination does confirm “invisible” bits of Pyrex® glass floating among the opals. I am hopeful that invisible solids were exclusive to Welch’s jewelry and will provide an additional way to identify his pieces. (I do not see any invisible solids in my mother’s floating opal earrings, which were made by Opalite.)

 

A Note About the Bubble

floating opal orb without capTo many eyes, the bubble is a flaw and the truth is that Welch felt the same way. With his “double globular” design, Welch was able to hide the bubble under the pendant cap (he used another method for rings). In addition, he attempted to make the passage between the two chambers narrow enough to keep the bubble in top chamber and thus prevent “the evil appearance of the otherwise useful air space.”

Current belief is that any bubble in a floating opal reflects damage and that it detracts from the value. While a very large bubble is an indication of leakage and should be avoided, I would argue that in these early pieces, the theory of trapping the bubble was probably much easier than the actual practice. As handmade jewelry, floating opals suffer the human touch and are all the sweeter for it. Although attempts were made to keep it from sight, many a bubble has escaped its chamber and can be seen when a pendant is lying prone or held inverted. It is important to remember too that some of Welch’s pendants are close to 90 years old and the fact that they have survived at all should weigh heavily in their favor.

 

1 There is a good deal of incongruity regarding the number of patents Welch received. I found a total of 24, issued to our Horace Welch between 1910 and 1935, but there could be more. Surprisingly, there is more than one patent-holding Horace Welch. I was able to discount the others, including Horace Welch of Selma, Alabama, and Horace H. Welch of Earlville, New York, by using census data.

2 The article in Scientific American magazine states that Welch is the inventor of the floating opal and "possesses five patents covering it." I could only find four floating opal patents issued to Mr. Welch. He did re-file his still pending second application in February of 1931, so it's possible that he considered it the fifth patent.

3 Pyrex®, a borosilicate glass, was a relatively new product, having been introduced to America by Corning Glass Works in 1915. 

According to Dorothy Rainwater's book, American Jewelry Manufacturers, H. H. Welch of New York, New York, is referenced in the 1931 Keystone, and the 1943 Jewelers' Circular Keystone as the manufacturer and patentee of "The Floating Opal."   

 


 

CLICK HERE FOR PAGE TWO: A FLOATING OPAL QUICK GUIDE

 

This article, in condensed form, was originally published in the Winter 2010 Costume Jewelry Collectors International quarterly magazine (Volume 1, Issue 4).

Special thanks to Horace Welch's great nieces, Nancy and Laurel Ann, for their help in piecing together this story. Thanks also to Marc Stonberg (Opalite, Inc.) for sharing his knowledge of the floating opal industry.

Floating Opal jewelry photography by Gary Simmons.

 

RESOURCES:

Google Patents.  www.google.com/patents          

Ancestry.com. www.ancestry.com

Rainwater, Dorothy T., American Jewelry Manufacturers, Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, Pennsylvania, 1988.

The Keystone Jewelry Trade Mark Book. The Keystone Publishing Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1934.

"An ‘Assembled' Jewel," Scientific American, Vol. 147, No. 4, Scientific American Publishing Company, New York, New York, 1932.

 


Date(s): December 1, 2010. Album by Meg Andrews. 1 - 39 of 39 Total. 4230 Visits.
Enlarge photo 1
Young Horace Welch
The only known photograph of Horace Herbert Welch, taken when he was a very young man.

Enlarge photo 2
Patent Illustration of a Ring
This illustration from Welch’s patent number 1,827,695 dated October 13, 1931, shows a cross-section of a floating opal ring. The globe construction for rings was different than that of the pendants and was probably flawed. Welch did manufacture rings, but it is extremely rare to find one today.

Enlarge photo 3
Patent Illustration of a Floating Opal Pendant
This illustration from Patent 1,730,257 shows a cross-section of a double globular pendant complete with cap and chain. Note the hidden top chamber where the bubble, signified by the letter “B,” is housed.

Enlarge photo 4
Patent Illustration of a
Finished Floating Opal Pendant

This illustration, also from patent 1,730,257,
depicts a finished floating opal pendant
complete with a cap very similar
to some that were actually produced.


Enlarge photo 5
Patent Illustration Showing Invisible Solids
An illustration from Welch’s Patent
number 1,730,257 showing the outlines of
the invisible solids, which are signified by
the letter “S.”


Enlarge photo 6
Pendant Without Cap Shows Construction
A floating opal pendant without its cap. This housing is from one of mother’s earrings and was made by Opalite. Note the double globular construction and the bubble “trapped” in the top chamber.

Enlarge photo 7
Double Floating Opal Lariat Necklace
One of Welch’s most beautiful creations: a double pendant floating opal necklace. Note the Art Deco style filigree lariat finding. Each pendant is typical size at 7/8 of an inch (22 mm) long. The caps are marked at the top: 14K and “PATS. PEND.”

Enlarge photo 8
PATS. PEND. Cap
The caps on these pendants are marked 14K and PATS. PEND., dating them to the period between 1924 to 1931.

Enlarge photo 9
Large Floating Opal Pendant
A larger Welch pendant at 1-1/8 inches (29 mm) long. The cap is marked 14K and is a very bright yellow gold called “green” gold in early advertisements. The patent date is inscribed around the top: 10.13.31.

Enlarge photo 10
PAT. 10.13.31 Cap
This cap, marked 14K and PAT. 10.13.31 dates after the patent date of October 13, 1931. Note that except for the size and markings, this cap is identical to the earlier made PATS. PEND. caps.

Enlarge photo 11
Very Early Floating Opal Pendant
One of the earliest known floating opal pendants set in 14-karat white gold. It is shown on black cord as many early floating opals were worn. This pendant has suffered damage: note the large bubble and the discolored glycerin.

Enlarge photo 12
PAT. 6.27.22 Cap
One of the earliest floating opal pendants. This mark is very hard to see. Note that PAT. 6.27.22 is hidden among the scrolls.

Enlarge photo 13
14K Welch Floating Opal Earrings
Floating Opal Pendant Earrings on original screw back findings. Pendants are marked 14K and Pats. Pend. and measure 7/8 of an inch long by 3/8 inch wide each.

Enlarge photo 14
Yet Another 6.27.22 Cap Floating Opal
This not often seen Welch pendant is marked Pat. 6.27.22. It is remarkably similar to the one in the 1930 Hertzberg's ad.
Photo courtesy of Janet Cohen,
ebay seller newmonter.


Enlarge photo 15
Close up of Cap Marked on Bail
Unusual placement of the PAT. 6.27.22
info on the top of the affixed bail.
Photo courtesy of Janet Cohen,
ebay seller newmonter.


Enlarge photo 16
Another Style of PAT. 6.27.22 Cap
Another early Welch pendant in
14 karat gold marked Pat. 6.27.22.
Photo courtesy of Janet Cohen,
ebay seller newmonter.


Enlarge photo 17
Close Up of Cap
Close up of pendant cap showing
the Pat. 6.27.22 info.
Photo courtesy of Janet Cohen,
ebay seller newmonter.


Enlarge photo 18
Early Welch Floating Opal
Another Extra Large Welch Floating Opal. This one, in 14 karat gold, measures 1-1/2 inches long. Note also the fixed bail.
Photo courtesy of Erin Emerson.


Enlarge photo 19
Unusual Patent Date Placement
The hard-to-find marks on this Welch cap
are like the prize in a treasure hunt.
Special thanks to Erin Emerson for sharing
this photo of her "Pat. 6.27.22"
Welch's Floating Opal pendant.


Enlarge photo 20
X-Large Edwardian Style Floating Opal
A delightfully large 14K Welch floating opal at just over 1-5/8 inches long by 5/8 inches wide.  Note the fixed bail. Resembles cap shown in the Scientific American article.
Photo courtesy of Veronica Johansson.


Enlarge photo 21
Close-Up of Edwardian Style Cap
Extra thanks to Veronica Johansson for sharing photos of her special find of this
Pat. 6.27.22 Welch's Floating Opal.


Enlarge photo 22
Extra Large Welch Floating Opal
One of the largest Welch Floating Opal pendants (right) beside pendant from picture #2. The pendant measures 1-1/4 inches long not including the 1/4-inch bail. Roughly 5/8 inches wide. On original black cord. Early. Cap is marked 14k and  Pat. 6-27-22 and matches Figure 7 in Patent 1,730,257.

Enlarge photo 23
1926 Article on Floating Opals
Floating Opal production and promotion is in full swing although Horace is waiting for his 2nd, 3rd & 4th patents. Note the model is wearing a pendant on a black silk cord, earrings AND a ring.
(San Antonio Light, October 6, 1926.)


Enlarge photo 24
Floating Opals Ad June 1926
Hertzberg's Ad in the June 9, 1926 edition of the San Antonio Express.

Enlarge photo 25
Floating Opal Jewelry Ad 1930
Hertzberg's 1930 advertisement showing a floating opal ring and pendant. The copy states that one could buy pendants, eardrops and rings "daintily mounted in 14-k solid white or green gold."
(San Antonio Light, October 22, 1930.)


Enlarge photo 26
Excerpt from The Jewelers' Circular 1922
A newly found article in the November 1922 issue of The Jewelers' Circular. This proves that Welch was marketing a finished floating opal as early as 1922.

Enlarge photo 27
1926 Hertzberg Ad Copy
This copy is reproduced from a 1926 Hertzberg's advertisement. In it, Horace Welch's dramatic pen style is clearly evident.

Enlarge photo 28
1931 Daniel Low & Co. Catalogue
All are Horace Welch floating Opals. Even the exuberant copy has the Horace touch.
Image courtesy of Jane Clarke,
Morning Glory Antiques & Jewelry.
www.morninggloryjewelry.com
Thank You Jane!


Enlarge photo 29
14 Karat Horace Welch Floating Opals
This sampling of Horace Welch's Floating Opal Gems shows some of the many different sizes and caps that were available. All are 14K gold, including the rare white gold cap, and date from 1922 to the mid 1930s.

Enlarge photo 30
Examples of Floating Opals 1930s
Photo from article in a 1930s issue of Scientific American Magazine showing Welch ear drops and pendant necklace.

Enlarge photo 31
Welch Floating Opal Ring
Finally! A Welch floating opal ring!
Image courtesy of Elaine Lucier,
Green Mannequin on Ruby Lane.
Thank You Elaine!


Enlarge photo 32
Welch Floating Opal Ring
This floating opal is set in an 18K
white gold filigree ring mounting.
Note that the visible portion
appears to be an orb.
Courtesy of Elaine Lucier,
Green Mannequin on Ruby Lane.


Enlarge photo 33
Welch Floating Opal Ring Side View
The construction method of the actual
orbs does not match any of the
drawings in his patents....
Courtesy of Elaine Lucier,
Green Mannequin on Ruby Lane


Enlarge photo 34
What's Hidden Beneath
Surprise...it's not an orb at all but
a cleverly disguised tear drop!
Courtesy of Elaine Lucier,
Green Mannequin on Ruby Lane.


Enlarge photo 35
Welch Floating Opal Ring Yellow Gold
After waiting three years we get
two rings in one week!
Photo courtesy of Shelley Ballard
Thank You Shelley!


Enlarge photo 36
Welch Floating Opal Ring
Both rings date to the late 20s or
early 30s. They are not marked with
any patent information.
Courtesy of Shelley Ballard


Enlarge photo 37
Welch Floating Opal Ring
Including these two, I have now seen 4
rings. All were set in this filigree style.
Due to the ring's limited production,
it is presumed to be the only style.
Courtesy of Shelley Ballard


Enlarge photo 38
Welch Floating Opal Ring
This mounting allowed the teardrop
to be presented as an orb. Welch
explained why in Patent 1,850,190.
Courtesy of Shelley Ballard


Enlarge photo 39
Welch Floating Opal Ring
The filigree mounting was
probably ordered from a supplier,
then set with the floating opal
in Welch's workshop.
Courtesy of Shelley Ballard


   
  Sign the Guestbook. Displaying 13 of 13 entries.
Meg,
    I recently purchased a floating opal ring from a Rhode Island estate.  It looks like the band is from the 1930's era but it is very large, size 10 and set in 18K gold.  Were the rings ever set in 18K or is this a custom made piece???  I love floating opals and couldn't resist buying a piece I had never seen before but search as I may, I cannot find any detailed info about rings.
 - 
Green-Mannequin | Ruby Lane, Fri, 17 Jan 2014 3:49AM
My mother gave me her mother's floating opal necklace over three years ago, and I wore it everyday with pride. On a night out my chain broke and I lost the pendant. I am completely devastated and I do not have the heart to tell my mother. Instead I have been trying to find a replacement, but I haven't been able to find anything close until now. One of the images looks like my grandmother' pendant. Can anyone direct me on how I can find/purchase a floating opal necklace? I have been looking for over a year, and I am so discouraged.
 - 
Jacquie Flynn, Fri, 19 Jul 2013 10:15PM
What wonderful information, I have always had an infinity for floating opals, it is so nice to have the history. When I am able to buy them I do, it,s so much fun to tell people the process and the dates, now you have given me so much more to my sales ability especially the history. Thanks again Eleanor
 - 
Eleanor Agnelli, Sat, 8 Jun 2013 2:33PM
thanks for sharing such wonderful information!
 - 
gina, Mon, 1 Apr 2013 10:17AM
I have cherished my floating opal for many years. My father gave my mother a gift of a floating opal pendant and earring set in 1952. My mother gave my 2 sisters and I these beautiful vintage pieces as we turned 21. All 3 of us wear them around our necks daily. A day does not go by where someone asks me of my unusual piece and I share with them the history. I will lovingly pass this treasure on to my daughter one day. But till then I wear it with love and pride.
 - 
Debbie, Mon, 28 Jan 2013 10:12AM
I've recently purchased an H.Welch piece that is like nothing I've ever seen being sold before or in pics ever...except here :)...
But there it was in the drawn b&w picture advertisment above "Examples of floating opals 1930s"...It's beautifully ornate and almost 2" from top of cap to bottom. It's stamped very tiny at the top 6.27.22 and pat. on the other side with a 14K on the bail.
Thank You for all the information... it has really helped me and made me want to know even more about all the different kind of caps that are out there. :)
 - 
Veronica, Sun, 24 Jun 2012 9:04AM
Thank you so much for such an informative article!  I just came across a floating opal pendant and lo and behold, it has pat. 6-27-22 on the bezel!  Your website allowed me to quickly discover more about this unique item than I ever imagined!  I collect opals and this is now one of my favorite pieces.  Thanks again!
 - 
Erin, Tue, 14 Feb 2012 11:59AM
What a fantastic piece of information. Thank you for your hard work and kindness in sharing this history on such interesting jewelry.
Andie
 - 
Andie Haynes, Sun, 9 Oct 2011 8:39AM
I was looking through my Mothers jewelery box, when I ran across her floating opal neckless.I can remember her wearing this when I was a little kid.I was mesmorized looking at it, touching it, turning it.
It is marked 1.13.31 and 14k,I would have never looked for the marks on it without reading your artical. Thank you for the helpful information.
 - 
veronica, Mon, 15 Aug 2011 1:53PM
Thank you for sharing this valuable information. Shortly before my father passed away, he gave me a floating opal pendant that he bought when he was in the service for his mother. It is my prized possession and I am glad to find out more about it.
Rose
 - 
Rose, Fri, 12 Aug 2011 1:40PM
Thanks for your dedication to the research and sharing with others.  My mother was given "an antique floating opal pendant" by my father around 1958.  She said that he had purchased it from a pawn shop.  The top part is tulip shaped, more like pointed leaves.  She never wore it because she was afraid the chain was too delicate, it would break, and the pendant would be lost or broken.  My father sneaked it out of her jewelry box for me to purchase a more suitable chain in hopes that she would feel secure enough to wear and enjoy it.  He passed away.  She wore the necklace to my brother's 3rd wedding.  She was still overly cautious with the pendant and took it off immediately after the wedding and placed it in the padded velvet case that I had secured.  She didn't check, but closed the lid and heard a crunch.  She had put the necklace in but not secured the chain safely.  The chain was draped over the glass and crushed the globe.  I am trying to find someone that can repair it properly.  If not, then I would love to find a look-a-like replacement.
 - 
Karen Godfrey, Thu, 30 Jun 2011 2:09PM
I really enjoyed reading this, thank you for all your research and generosity in sharing it online.
 - 
Mary, Sun, 22 May 2011 3:17PM
Meg, I have just discovered this incredible website. What a fascinating history of Horace Welch and his beautiful invention. The pictures of him as a young man and his gorgeous jewelry was very moving, and I am sure were he alive today he would be so proud of this site. You've done a splendid job.
 - 
Robin, Wed, 1 Dec 2010 3:01PM