Precious opal’s play of color defines it’s beauty.
Composed of up to 10% water, opal is a soft gem.
An essential part of loving care for opals is protection. Avoid circumstances and conditions that can cause opal to crack. Even dehydration (loss of moisture) can damage opal and result in “crazing” (tiny visible network of fractures).
Although damage in opal cannot be reversed, it is possible to help Australian and other sedimentary opals replenish moisture by soaking in a distilled water bath for at least 24 hours every 6 months. Keep in mind, however, that while this soaking technique might be suitable for loose opals, it is not always advisable with respect to opal jewelry, and in fact, could be destructive to the metal or other components, or to its construction.
CAVEAT: This post relates to the care of Australian opals and other opals that originate from sedimentary rock. Ethiopian opals originate in volcanic rock and are hydrophane in nature, which property affects transparency when the stone is immersed in water. As a result, to retain their beauty, Ethiopian opals should not be immersed in water or cleaned with water. Contact with oils or other liquids may result in a reduction of play of color to Ethiopian opals and possibly may permanently damage them because of their hydrophane nature. For further information on Ethiopian Opal, see the post on this blog relating to Proper Care for Ethiopian Opal Jewelry.
For more detailed guidelines on the care of opal jewelry, read our Newsletter: http://createsend.com/t/t-1B6F66A5B92A58C3.