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    FRANK LEO & ASSOCIATES

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    A gemstone is considered to be one of the largest gem-quality opals in existence, and it sold for US$143,750. The gemstone was sold at an auction in Alaska on Sunday and is dubbed the “Americus Australis,” The opal weighs more than 11,800 carats, according to the auction house Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals, and has a long history.

    Before being sold, it was kept in a linen closet in a home in Big Lake, north of Anchorage. The owner, Fred Von Brandt, mines for gold in Alaska, and his family has deep roots in the gem and rock business. The opal is larger than a brick and is broken in two pieces. Von Brandt said it was broken in practice used decades ago to prove gem quality.

    Von Brandt explained the opal was in the care of his father for decades who decided it had been “locked up long enough, that it’s time to put it back out in the world and see what interest it can generate.” Von Brandt told The Associated Press “he entrusted me to figure out which direction we wanted to go to part with the stone,”

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