Lightning Ridge is a town in north-western New South Wales, Australia, near the southern border of Queensland. It is well known for its opals, especially Black Opals.
The name Harold Hodge is well known among the locals. Hodge moved to the area in the 1950’s with plans to open a motel. He quickly fell in love with the Opal that was so prominent in the region, and Harold quickly become one of the toughest Opal buyers in town. Hodge was a great believer in the town of Lightning Ridge, and invested in area businesses, employing locals and helping to strengthen the economy.
Harold was a well know character around the town but he was known best for his unique and shocking Opal false teeth. He commissioned an oral surgeon to make him a custom set of dentures, where some of the tradition teeth were replaced with Black Opals. Each Opal was hand picked by Harold. This set of dentures rivals today’s more extreme dental accessories that feature gold, diamonds and other gems or precious metals typically seen in jewelry. Perhaps Harold was even the origin of the trend!
After years of smiling on demand and posing for photos with tourists, Harold took out his teeth and embedded them into the corner of the local pub for everyone to see. Years after Harold passed away his wife chiseled the teeth out of the wall for a keepsake. Over the years his notoriety grew and finally his teeth were donated to the Australian opal Center in Lightning Ridge, where you can view them today!