How To Care For Opals

So you have just spent a significant amount of money on your Opals and now you want to know how to care for opals. Here are some handy tips, broken down by specific Opal types, that will keep your Opal bright for a lifetime.

General Tips For All Opals

  1. Clean them using warm soapy water and a soft brush.

  2. Avoid ultrasonic cleaners and chemical cleaners

  3. Some rare types of opals, like Tintenbar Opals, should be kept in water to avoid cracking. More on this below.

  4. Avoid wearing Opal Jewelry in areas that have a harsh environment. This includes gardening or doing the dishes.

Australia Opals

Australian Black OpalThere is a common misconception that oil or household liquids can damage Australian opals. At present there are no known compounds that can penetrate a solid Australian opal. The only exception to this is Matrix Opal which is porous. Another myth is that you should soak your opal in water. It doesn’t need this and it will not enhance it as a solid opal is impervious to this. It will not harm the stone so if you feel like doing it go ahead. Thin Opals should be set in a pendant and not a ring to improve the durability. I have had a bezel set Opal ring for 20 years and wear it all the time. Every two or three years I have to re polish which I can do leaving it in the ring.

When set in jewellery the stone should be protected and not protrude out. Opals don’t like to be stored away for years in a safe. To clean your opal just use a soft brush or cloth and mild detergent. Don’t clean it in a ultra sound as you can damage the stone. To view your opal at its best indoors the natural light should come over your shoulder. Have your back to a window or door and view your opal.


Opal Doublets And Triplets

Opal Doublets and Opal Triplets are not natural opals. They have been treated and glued together. It is not recommended to soak them in water. Triplets can lift after time. These days they use a UV light which glues them together creating a more stable Opal. Clean with a soft cloth with mild detergent.


Ethiopian Opals

This is what the GIA in American said about Ethiopian Opal “This is opal from the Welo region of Ethiopia. It is mainly Hydrophane in that it absorbs water and can change colour. To determine if the opal is hydrophane wet your hand and place it on the top of the Opal. If it sticks to your hand it is hydrophane. Stones will change colour when wet but will return back later. Don’t dry them out under strong lights.


Nodule Opal

Also called brown opal. This material is more prone to crazing but they make stunning specimens with electric neon colours. This material can be stabilized and should be cleaned using warm soapy water only.

Virgin Valley Opal - USA

American Opal is a type of crystal opal that has a high water content. It is prone to crazing. Some wood replacement opal make great specimens and appear stable. Many of the miners do treat these crystal stones. For long life of these Opals it is recommend to keep these Opals in water.

Mexican Opals

Mexican Opal needs the same care as Australian opal. Some natural stones have matrix around them which can absorb fluids and discolour the matrix. Clean the stone with a mild detergent.

Now that you know how to care for Opals, check out some of our favourite categories.

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