Hydrophane Opal is a new term that has been developed to describe a certain type of Opal. Opals have been mined in Europe for thousands of years and in Australia for over 165 years. However the discovery ofEthiopian opals and Hydrophane opals has only been around for about 20 years. In the last 10 years there has been in increase in the commercial quantities of this material.
Louis Leakey, the well-known anthropologist, uncovered the first known opal relics in a cave located in Kenya. During the 4000 B.C they most possibly came from Ethiopia. Its interesting that the oldest opal known possibly came from Ethiopia which is now considered a new opal field.
I started buying small amounts of rough Welo in 2008 and increased to multiple kilos by now. I’ve cut a couple of thousand stones from Welo and worked on developing procedures that worked for me during 2008 and sold my first Welo in 2009. I’ve now sold hundreds of cured Welo Gems and keep a study group of cut Welo with many different types and patterns. All are Hydrophane.
Welo has 2 types of opal and as you’ve been reading, most is “Hydrophane”, soaks up large amounts of water and dries out large amounts of water. and “Non Hydrophane” which acts very similar to Australian Opal and cuts the same. Hydrophane is the Opal that also looses color and changes clarity when exposed to large amounts of water. I cut all of my Welo with a Genie Machine under a water flush and the total immersion for a couple of hours mostly turns the White Base Hydrophane opal crystal clear and sometimes washes all, or most, of the color away. Not to fret though even after hours of water and going through the most difficult upheaval of their existence, being cut and polished, almost all come through with “Flying Colors” and they all return to their previous appearance and all that color catches up andsome really “fly”!!!
When buying my rough Welo I buy 5 gram stones and above with 10g to 40g common. Better than the mine run rough that most arecutting from!! I use larger stones because I don’t dop my rough while cutting, just hold them in hand. One advantage of that is Welo won’t adjust to heat evenly and tends to fracture if exposed to much heat so if I dop I cold dop. That is just my preference, but it increases my yield which can be very low, in most cases there is about 2/3 loss in stones being cleaned of matrix and some natural fractures, to a finished gem. That can be increased by selecting each stone, but that is very difficult here in the US.
With Welo I find from experience that the rough must be cut to at least 3000 diamond grit (if you use diamond) to seal the surface so it expands and contracts in a uniform manner, if you cut part of the way and leave it dryfor an hour or two, it is likely to be fractured when you return. Also if you leave any matrix in it also reacts differently than the host opal and may cause cracking. I polish to a 14K grit and finalpolish with Cerium Oxide for a mirror finish. This highly polished finish tends to curb the loss or gain of water in amounts that occur when wearing the gemsand cuts down on the absorption of any foreign materials through its surface and diminishes the tendency to react to different climates. This is what seals the surface so you can get your Welo Gems quite wet without noticeable basecolor loss or loss of brilliance.
I also cut some Welo that is black on crystal base and find almost all is non-hydrophane. All Hyrophane Opal varies in the amount of hydrophane properties it possesses. It can vary from almost unnoticeable when we cut it to so hydrophane that it sticks to our fingers, if we have any moisture at all on them, kind of like the kid sticking his tongue to piece of playground equipment when it’s frozen and it freezes his tongue to it immediately!!
The yellow centers, or “Yolk” of Welo, some cutters automatically remove them, but I haven’t found a correlation between cracks and yolks so I remove them if they aren’t artistically appealing, but some have colorplay and sometimes are attractive, by the way some aren’t yellow at all,they can go to completely clear void of color.
I find that by completely sealing the surface by this system of polishing makes it unnecessary to use other sealers, but is is necessary to finish all the sides to seal it.
There are many “geometric” patterns, such as Honeycomb, Fishscale, Rainbow Prism, Ribbon and many others that you can see in Opal Auctions literature andby common usage have become accepted descriptions that are very rare in opal from most other localities, but found in Ethiopian opal and some are considered a premium and might auction at higher prices than other patterns.
Some gems cut withone pattern on one side and the other side is a completely different pattern. The patterns are usually determined by a cellular structure making up the gem and viewing these cells at different angles changes the Pattern that it produces.
Here is where most lapidaries will disagree with my method, but it works for me, and doesn’t affect the stability of the Rub. When you are looking to cut the rough into a gem, I will dip the rough once in water and study the reaction on the surface of the rough. If there are any fractures in the rough they will absorb water into the cracks and after just seconds darker lines start to appear where the cracks walls absorb the water and turn clear in a fine line where the cracks are. It will show any cracks if you are cutting it and you look close enough, and look carefully and it will give you an idea how deep the cracks go. Some cracks are just on the surface and can be ground or polished away, like crazing. Sometimes crazing can enhance the colorplay of the finished gem. If the finished gem makes it through the cutting and polishing after a day or so it will have done any cracking or crazing it is goung to do, so by the time you see it on Auction it has done what it is going to do if it has been throughly polished. I havent had anyFine Welo Gems crack in my study stones or had any returned from cracking. Be asured, with proper care, washing with soap and water when the are a little scrungy is about all they need. Not necessary to keep them in any liquids such as water or glycerine or oil, keep them out of laying in direct sun like you might have through a window or any heat source, if your hand can take the heat so will your Welo Hydrophane Opal!!
Since I mentioned crazing, it isn’t always detrimental. I have a 330ct Welo crystal with beautiful fire and color that is completely crazed throughout the surface and this crazing refracts the light such that it increases the color play. I’ve designed this huge Welo Crystal into a mushroom by attaching a welo base that gives it some depth and purpose and it looks just like a mushroom. I’ve polished through some windows to expose the fracture free insides of the gem and it also exposes another unique aberration of the welo and that is a “Phantom”!! This phenomena looks like an opal within an opal, some have colorplay, sometimes different than the host opal while others are just a light gray. This “phantom” is also being discussed by opinions from different camps as to what they are and how they form.
That brings me to Welo formations and we know that Welo, like Mexican and many othersare Volcanic in origin but I also have several with plant matter such as roots and straw and others that are definite “Limb Casts”, which lends creedence to the possibility of longer term seepage replacement with the twigs and roots appearing as fossils inside the opal.
For Hydrophane Welo the buying public want thesebeautiful colors andpatterns and they are out there for interested parties to discover, even in smaller rough, they can be found. You’ll see listings with a brilliance description such as 5 of 5 or 3.5 of 5 and that is referring to the dullest colors as 1 and the mostbrilliant as 5. Welo has some of the mostbrilliant crystal opals and varied patterns and colorplay of any if you are looking for those properties.
When we first started experimenting with Welo opal we realized that it is important to have a rest or drying time before they are brought to market and most agreed that we would try a year (12 months) of resting. After my studies of these gems I am of the opinion that a full year is not necesary so I usually rest my Hydrophane Opal for several months, or in some instances shorter, depending on the amount of Hydrophane Properties each gem portrays.
Now for “NON HYDROPHANE” Welo, just a line or two!! It consists of 10 to 20% of all Welo I’ve worked and it cuts and acts just like Australian in nearly ever manner.
Those are some of my thoughts and findings after working a few years and thousands of stones with the deceptive Welo Hydrophane!!
Does the depth of mining determine how stable Ethiopian opal is?
No research has been done on this factor if opal mined in certain areas as to how it was formed and does this effect the opals stability.
In the opal fields at lightning Ridge, the miners know if you go deep in some fields that the opal is not as stable.
Most miners work 20-30-meter depth and opals are stable, but if you go deep in some areas the potch is softer and the opals will not be as stable.
Some opal fields have reputation like Mehive that lot of opal is unstable and crystal is used to make doublets or triplets
The potch is also softer and more a wet clay appearance than a dry clay look.
But in Ethiopia the opal is volcanic and miner will work horizontal not vertical as most opal mines are.
As this Ethiopian opal was formed in violent volcanic areas with many earthquakes and the country has reputation of massive earthquakes and volcanic activity.
So, when new opal deposits are found it is impossible to see how it was formed and at what depths
This could be the reason why some areas have higher cracking problem than others and if you follow Ethiopian sellers feedback on opalauctions you will see lot repeat buyers buying , so this location where the opal came from is more stable.
Its not scientific but could explain why some parcels of Ethiopian rough produce more stable opals.
Recently at an Opal Show I met an Opal Wholesaler who took some Welo Opal to the United States of America from Australia. He placed some Ehtiopian Opal in his carry bag and some in his check-in luggage.
When he arrived in USA he noticed the opals in the check in luggage had some cracks on the surface but the opals he hand carried were in fine condition.
So it seems that the atmospheric pressure or humidity change had an influence on the Hydrophane opal?
Checking atmospheric pressure we find most jet airplanes have controlled pressure in their luggage compartment but most are not heated and are just above freezing. Even pressure in older aircraft might not be as accurate as airline companies report.
I don’t think anyone has studied the effect of atmospheric pressure or humidity change on Welo Opal. If diamonds are formed by natural pressure there is reason that Hydrophane opal could be affected by atmospheric pressure.
For air travelers pressurization becomes necessary at 12,500 feet or 3,800 meters. We are all familiar with the pressure in our ear drums caused by rapidly descending aircraft or even altitude sickness. Many have had the experience of fizzy drink bottles exploding in their cases or shampoo bottles exploding in check -in luggage. Apparentlyif the shampoo bottle is not full it will not explode.
This makes us wonder about water in Hydrophane opal as it has nowhere to go when under pressure and if opal freezes as the aircraft rapidly descends into dryer humidity’, this might affect the opal?
Animals are shipped in luggage compartments that are heated and pressurized but airlines have different compartments for luggage. Most luggage compartments are not heated and sometimes your luggage will arrive freezing cold and what happens to this opal when it arrive in dry humidity?
Gemstone cutters have done fracture testing on quartz for centuries. Even in 16th century German, they would pressure- test quartz by placing hot or cold water or ice to fracture test quartz. Then the fracture would crack at its weakest point and they could carve and shape the rock without fear of any more cracking.
Maybe air travel is doing the same to some hydrophane opal? So many factors can effect hydroplane opal. It might only be small proportion of opals that would be affected but worth investigating. Most International flights fly at 39,000 feet or 12,000 meters
You can’t really put moisture in a baggie with Welos because they will absorb it and it will alter their appearance, and the water alone could crack the opal by absorbing unevenly, even before it gets to the cabin pressure or temperature issue. Most rough is bone dry, and gets flown out of the country at some point, so I wouldn’t think cabin pressure would make much of a difference unless a cut opal still had water in it. Freezing should also only affect it if it has water in it that would expand when it froze, so drying Welos thoroughly is a must.
In the end, we are unable to find a definitive reason as to why Ethiopian Welo opal is affected by air travel.
Hydrophane Opal 是一個新術語，用於描述某種類型的蛋白石。歐泊已在歐洲開采了數千年，在澳大利亞開採已超過 165 年。然而，埃塞俄比亞蛋白石和 Hydrophane 蛋白石的發現只存在了大約 20 年。在過去的 10 年中，這種材料的商業數量有所增加。
著名的人類學家路易斯·利基 (Louis Leakey) 在肯尼亞的一個洞穴中發現了第一個已知的蛋白石遺跡。在公元前 4000 年，他們很可能來自埃塞俄比亞。有趣的是，已知最古老的蛋白石可能來自埃塞俄比亞，現在被認為是一個新的蛋白石領域。
我從 2008 年開始購買少量的 Welo 原石，現在已經增加到數公斤。我已經從 Welo 切割了幾千顆寶石，並致力於開發在 2008 年對我有用的程序，並在 2009 年賣掉了我的第一個 Welo。我現在已經售出了數百顆經過加工的 Welo 寶石，並與許多切割 Welo 保持了研究小組不同的類型和模式。都是Hydrophane。
Welo 有 2 種類型的蛋白石，正如您所讀到的，大多數是“Hydrophane”，吸收大量的水並使大量的水變乾。和“Non Hydrophane”，它的作用與澳大利亞蛋白石非常相似並且切割相同。 Hydrophane 是一種蛋白石，當暴露於大量水時，它也會失去顏色並改變透明度。我用 Genie Machine 在水沖洗下切割了我所有的 Welo，完全浸沒幾個小時，主要是使 White Base Hydrophane 蛋白石變得晶瑩剔透，有時會洗掉所有或大部分顏色。不用擔心，即使經過數小時的水流，經歷了他們存在的最困難的劇變，被切割和拋光，幾乎所有的東西都帶有“飛行的顏色”，它們都恢復到以前的外觀，所有的顏色都趕上了，有些真的“飛”！！！
購買我的 Welo 原石時，我購買 5 克及以上的寶石，10 克至 40 克的普通寶石。比大多數人從那裡開墾的礦井還要好！！我使用較大的寶石，因為我在切割時不會摻雜原石，只是將它們握在手中。這樣做的一個優點是 Welo 不會均勻地適應熱量，並且如果暴露在過多的熱量下往往會破裂，所以如果我做冷敷。這只是我的偏好，但它增加了我的產量，這可能非常低，在大多數情況下，在清除基體和一些天然裂縫的寶石到成品寶石的過程中，大約有 2/3 的損失。這可以通過選擇每塊石頭來增加，但這在美國是非常困難的。
使用 Welo，我從經驗中發現，原石必須至少被切割成 3000 顆鑽石粒度（如果你使用鑽石）來密封表面，這樣它才能以均勻的方式膨脹和收縮，如果你切割一部分並讓其乾燥一段時間一兩個小時，你回來的時候很可能會骨折。此外，如果您在其中留下任何基質，它的反應也會與宿主蛋白石不同，並可能導致開裂。我拋光到 14K 砂礫並用氧化鈰進行最終拋光以獲得鏡面效果。這種高度拋光的飾面往往會抑制佩戴寶石時發生的水分流失或增加，減少通過其表面吸收任何異物，並減少對不同氣候做出反應的趨勢。這是密封表面的原因，因此您可以將 Welo Gems 弄濕，而不會出現明顯的基色損失或亮度損失。
我還在水晶底座上切割了一些黑色的 Welo，發現幾乎所有的都是非氫化物。所有 Hyrophane 蛋白石在其擁有的親水性方面都有所不同。它可以從幾乎不明顯，當我們將它切割到如此親水以至於它粘在我們的手指上，如果我們的手指上有任何水分，就像孩子在冷凍時將舌頭粘在遊樂場設備上一樣，它會凍結他的馬上吐槽它！！
這是大多數寶石匠不同意我的方法的地方，但它對我有用，並且不會影響 Rub 的穩定性。當您想將原石切割成寶石時，我會將原石浸入水中一次並研究原石表面的反應。如果原石有任何裂縫，它們會將水吸收到裂縫中，幾秒鐘後，裂縫壁吸收水的地方開始出現較暗的線條，並在裂縫所在的地方變成清晰的細線。如果您正在切割它並且您看得足夠近，它會顯示任何裂縫，仔細觀察，它會讓您知道裂縫有多深。有些裂縫只是在表面上，可以磨掉或拋光掉，如裂紋。有時，裂紋可以增強成品寶石的色彩。如果成品寶石在一天左右後通過切割和拋光，它會出現任何開裂或裂紋，這是正常的，所以當你在拍賣會上看到它時，它已經完成了它要做的事情已經徹底打磨。我的書房石頭上沒有任何精細的 Welo Gems 裂縫，也沒有任何從裂縫中恢復的情況。放心，在適當的照顧下，當它們有點邋遢時，用肥皂和水清洗它們就足夠了。沒有必要將它們保存在任何液體中，例如水、甘油或油，不要將它們放置在陽光直射下，就像您可能通過窗戶或任何熱源一樣，如果您的手可以承受熱量，那麼您的 Welo Hydrophane Opal 也可以承受熱量！ ！
既然我提到了裂紋，它並不總是有害的。我有一顆 330 克拉的 Welo 水晶，具有美麗的火彩和顏色，整個表面完全開裂，這種開裂會折射光線，從而增加色彩表現。我將這個巨大的 Welo 水晶設計成一個蘑菇，通過連接一個 welo 底座，賦予它一些深度和目的，它看起來就像一個蘑菇。我已經通過一些窗戶進行了拋光，以暴露出寶石內部無裂縫的情況，它還暴露了另一種獨特的 Welo 畸變，那就是“幻影”！！這種現像看起來像蛋白石中的蛋白石，有些有顏色，有時與宿主蛋白石不同，而另一些則只是淺灰色。來自不同陣營的意見也正在討論這個“幻影”，關於它們是什麼以及它們是如何形成的。
這讓我想到了 Welo 地層，我們知道 Welo 像墨西哥人和許多其他人一樣起源於火山，但我也有幾個含有植物物質，如根和稻草以及其他明確的“肢體鑄造”，這使人們相信更長期的滲流替換，樹枝和根在蛋白石內顯示為化石。
對於 Hydrophane Welo 來說，購買大眾想要這些漂亮的顏色和圖案，感興趣的人可以在那裡發現它們，即使是較小的原石，也可以找到它們。您會看到帶有亮度描述的列表，例如 5 of 5 或 3.5 of 5，這將最暗淡的顏色稱為 1，將最亮的顏色稱為 5。 Welo 擁有一些最亮的水晶蛋白石和各種圖案和色彩您正在尋找這些屬性。
當我們第一次開始試驗 Welo 蛋白石時，我們意識到在將它們推向市場之前休息或乾燥時間很重要，並且大多數人同意我們將嘗試休息一年（12 個月）。在我對這些寶石的研究之後，我認為不需要一整年，所以我通常將我的 Hydrophane Opal 休息幾個月，或者在某些情況下更短，具體取決於每個寶石所描繪的 Hydrophane 屬性的數量。
現在對於“NON HYDROPHANE”Welo，只需一兩行！！它包含了我工作過的所有 Welo 的 10% 到 20%，它的剪輯和行為幾乎以任何方式都像澳大利亞人。
這些是我用欺騙性的 Welo Hydrophane 工作了幾年和成千上萬的石頭後的一些想法和發現！！
在 Lightning Ridge 的蛋白石領域，礦工們知道，如果你深入一些領域，蛋白石並不那麼穩定。
大多數礦工在 20-30 米的深度工作，蛋白石很穩定，但如果你深入到某些地區，波特會更軟，蛋白石就不會那麼穩定。
一些蛋白石領域有像 Mehive 這樣的聲譽，因為很多蛋白石不穩定，水晶被用來製造雙峰或三胞胎
這可能是一些地區比其他地區出現更高開裂問題的原因，如果您關注埃塞俄比亞賣家對 opalauctions 的反饋，您會看到很多重複買家購買，因此這個蛋白石產地更穩定。
那麼似乎大氣壓力或濕度變化對 Hydrophane 蛋白石有影響？
我認為沒有人研究過大氣壓力或濕度變化對 Welo Opal 的影響。如果鑽石是由自然壓力形成的，那麼 Hydrophane 蛋白石可能會受到大氣壓力的影響。
對於航空旅客而言，在 12,500 英尺或 3,800 米高空需要增壓。我們都熟悉快速下降的飛機甚至高原反應引起的耳鼓壓力。許多人都曾有過裝在行李箱中的汽水瓶爆炸或託運行李中的洗髮水瓶爆炸的經歷。顯然，如果洗髮水瓶未滿，它不會爆炸。
這讓我們想知道 Hydrophane 蛋白石中的水，因為它在壓力下無處可去，如果蛋白石在飛機迅速下降到干燥濕度時凍結，這可能會影響蛋白石？
幾個世紀以來，寶石切割師一直在對石英進行斷裂測試。即使在 16 世紀的德國，他們也會通過放置熱水或冷水或冰來對石英進行壓力測試。然後裂縫會在最薄弱的地方開裂，他們可以雕刻和塑造岩石，而不必擔心再開裂。
也許航空旅行對一些親水蛋白石也有同樣的作用？許多因素都會影響水上飛機蛋白石。可能只有一小部分蛋白石會受到影響，但值得調查。大多數國際航班的飛行高度為 39,000 英尺或 12,000 米
您不能真正將濕氣放入 Welos 袋中，因為它們會吸收水分並改變它們的外觀，即使在達到機艙壓力或溫度問題之前，單獨的水也會因吸收不均勻而使蛋白石破裂。大多數原石都是乾的，在某個時候會被運出這個國家，所以我認為機艙壓力不會有太大的不同，除非切割的蛋白石仍然含有水。凍結也應該只影響它，如果它裡面有水，當它凍結時會膨脹，所以徹底乾燥 Welos 是必須的。
最後，我們無法找到埃塞俄比亞 Welo 蛋白石受到航空旅行影響的確切原因。
Thank you so very much, that was extremely useful. I have recently fallen in love with the Welo Opal and have purchased several of them, as well as some rough. My hubby bought me a rock cutter and a polisher so now I'm trying to learn as much as possible before trying it out. I'll likely work with some obsidian first to get a feel for it. I will read the book. Thank you so much! Rikki Waterhouse
Thank you for your message
Non-Hydrophane are excellent to cut
Australian opals are non-hydrophane and very rare to have an Australian Hydrophane opal.
Australian Opal fields from Boulder to Lightning ridge and south Australia are all non- hydrophane opals
Small opal field of Tintenbar is reported to have some hydrophane opal but there is no commercial opal mining now in this area.
It is personal preference on what opal fields people like to cut and polish
Opal cutting a s hobby is on the increase and can be financially rewarding also.
To start, I suggest cutters buy some Ethiopian and boulder opal rough and when more experienced than buy Lightning Ridge rough material