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KYOCERA's “Kyoto Opal” Sparkles in Traditional Japanese Gift Items

Merging traditional artistry with Kyocera’s pioneering material technology

December 21, 2010

Kyocera Corporation announced that its original decorative material, “Kyoto Opal,” is being used in various new applications including designer chopsticks, and traditional Japanese ornaments used as keyrings and decorative straps for mobile phones. Kyocera’s Kyoto Opal is cultivated using the company’s original gem synthesis technology, with a quartz-grain structure that is identical to naturally occurring opals. Available in 12 colors that are reminiscent of classic Japanese hues, the decorative material is being used in an ever-widening range of products in the Japanese market.

Perfect as a souvenir or a timely Christmas present, the keyrings and straps range from 740 to 1,890 yen, and the specialty chopsticks from 3,990 to 4,200 yen. Sales of the items are done by Telacoya Co., Ltd., which specializes in tourist souvenirs, with the products being sold at 10 of their stores in Kyoto City. This is the first time that Kyoto Opal has been used in these types of commercialized products, which are on sale from this month.
* Sales tax included in all prices above.

Photo: Straps and keyrings using Kyoto Opal
Straps and keyrings using Kyoto Opal

Photo: Chopsticks using Kyoto Opal
Chopsticks using Kyoto Opal

The ornaments use traditional chirimen and kumihimo styles of intricately weaving and tying strings in elaborate patterns by hand. Unique new products have been created by using these traditional styles and combining them with the modern Kyoto Opal material. With a small ball-shaped cut of Kyoto Opal to accent the Japanese fashion, the ornaments express a hint of the beauty of old-Kyoto.

Photo: Keyring          Photo: Strap 1          Photo: Strap 2          Photo: Strap 3

Furthermore, Kyocera’s Kyoto Opal has also been used for the inlay design of specialty chopsticks made in the wakasanuri style in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture. For these, a 0.2mm-thin slice of the opal material has been inlayed into the wooden chopstick in rectangular and round shapes. Typically it is difficult to produce such slim cuts with the inherently brittle characteristics of naturally occurring opals, but this has become possible by using Kyoto Opal. Moreover, the opal’s play-of-colors adds to the chopsticks elegance.

Over the years, Kyoto Opal has come to be used in a number of items which are representational of Japanese culture, such as traditional lacquerware boxes, Buddhist prayer bead bracelets, as well as good-luck charms sold at the Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto. The special aesthetic qualities of Kyoto Opal make it a beautiful option for traditional Japanese objects. Kyoto Opal was even included in an exhibit of Japanese products in the anteroom of the APEC Japan 2010 meetings in Yokohama.

The unique material characteristics of Kyoto Opal make it possible to cut into various shapes and sizes, thus creating high expectations for use in diverse applications.

Photo: Kyoto Opal used in the design of a traditional lacquerware box   Kyoto Opal used in the design of
a traditional lacquerware box
(artist: Kenji Omachi)

About Kyoto Opal

Kyoto Opal is the name given to the opal material developed by Kyocera, which previously has been known outside of Japan simply as man-made (or synthetic) color opal. Cultivated with a quartz-grain structure that is identical to naturally occurring opal, the Kyoto Opal material has a unique aesthetic quality that cannot be duplicated with molded resin-based products. Due to special staining techniques, Kyocera has been able to realize a variety of rich and subtle hues and tints. Furthermore, by surmounting the inherently brittle characteristics of naturally occurring opals, which tend to split and crack, it is possible to cut the Kyoto Opal into diverse shapes.