Caring For Your Opal
Perhaps you are the proud owner of a beautiful black opal ring, or perhaps a lovely pair of Opal earrings. Then you might have asked yourself one of the following questions:
- How do I take care of opals?
- How do I clean my opal?
- Will it matter if I get my opal wet?
If you ever have please take a few minutes to read the below mini guide so you can maximise your Opals life.
What Type of Opal do you have?
First to know how to care for your Opal you need to know what sort of Opal you have. The three types are Solid Opal, Opal Doublets & Opal Triplets.
This refers to a Opal that has online been cut and polished. It isn’t set into a piece of jewellery just a stand alone Opal.
These consist of two layers, a thin slice of opal and a black backing. The slice of opal is cemented to the backing in order to enhance the colour.
Triplets are similar to doublets, they have the same backing however triplets also include a third transparent layer on the top (quartz or glass) to protect the opal and give it a rounder shape.
Caring for your Opals: The Basics
Opal is generally a soft stone. On Mohs scale it has a varying hardness of between 5.5-6.5 which is approximately the same as glass. So because of this you have to treat your Opal a little bit carefully to make sure it doesn’t get scratched or broken. So probably better off taking it off when playing sport, moving furniture or any sort of outdoors work. It is also advisable to avoid high temperatures or low humidity extremes (eg. boiling water) as it can crack the Opal due to it consisting of around 5-6% water.
In fact you might have heard from certain people that Opal can be damaged by water. Is this the case? No the actual Opal can’t be damaged by water, however if you have an Opal Doublet or Triplet water can certainly cause some problems. Why is this? Its because opal doublets and triplets consist of multiple layers glued together, so prolonged exposure to water will eventually cause lifting between the layers and the infiltration of water. You will know if this has happened because the doublet or triplet will have taken on a ‘foggy’ or grey appearance. The rule here is to avoid soaking the opal doublet or triplet in water. Don’t worry your opal wont be ruined if you wear it in the shower once, or are caught in the rain. It takes prolonged exposure to cause water damage to a doublet or triplet.
Cleaning Your Opal
The key thing to remember here is that Opals need to be cleaned gently! Simply use a mild detergent in warm water with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Make sure you avoid bleach, chemicals, cleaners & other harsh chemicals. For Opal Doublets & Triplets they can be wiped with a damp soft cloth and mild detergent, but should never be soaked or immersed.
If your stone loses its shine or becomes scratched, bring it back to an opal cutter. After years of wear, small scratches and scuff marks cause an opal to lose its shiny polish and become dull looking. Professional polishing can bring new life to an opal which has become dull or scratched, and we can also check for claw damage and ensure the security of the setting.
Where to Store Opals
If you need to store your opal away for a period of time, simply place it in a padded cloth bag for protection and store it away. For longer storage periods, place your opal in cotton wool with a few drops of water, then into a sealed plastic bag just to be safe. The water is not intended to soak into the stone (as opal is impervious) but will prevent water coming out of the stone if it is exposed to very low humidity environments (for example, zero humidity storage safes).