Firstly, how do you know that the opal you are looking at, or just purchased, is in fact real? Or, exactly as it was advertised? Many Opal sellers don’t actually know much about opals at all. There is a lot of false advertising within the industry, simply to try and get more money off you. If someone doesn’t give you enough information about an opal, or comes across as though they don’t seem to know what they’re talking about, or cannot offer you any advice about Opal Care, just be wary. Preferably look for a reputable seller, or an opal cutter, or a knowledgeable Jeweler, or a Jeweler who cuts Opal themselves. These ‘type’ of people generally know a lot about opals. You should have a feeling of comfort, rather than confusion, when buying your opals.
How to care for your Australian Opal
Opals are the most beautiful and most unique gemstone on earth. The fact is, that these gemstones are softer and more fragile than other gemstones such as sapphires and diamonds, and should be cared for accordingly.
The easiest way to think of your opal, is like glass, as it’s a similar hardness. Like glass, opal scratches when subjected to rough wear, dragging it against concrete and other hard abbrasive surfaces, so just be mindful of this when wearing it.
Opal contains somewhere between 4% and 20% water, and therefore doesn’t react well when subjected to sudden or extreme heat changes, also, avoid allowing them to freeze and dry out quickly too. Opals have known to become brittle if they are stored in an area that is too dry, or too hot for a long period of time. The result of a brittle opal will be little fissures (or cracks), and also, the color within the stone can become more pale than it used to be. Opals should be worn as often as you can, this way the gemstone will receive much needed humidity to keep it lasting forever.
When storing your opals, consider placing the stones into a soft cloth, or a padded ring box.
Solid opals love a gentle clean in soapy water, afterwards, simply rinse them off with some fresh water.
After many years of wear, Opals could possibly lose some of their ‘final polish’, making them a little dull. If this ever happens, you can simply take your gemstone to an experienced opal cutter (maybe see your local lapidary club), or a jeweller who specialises in Opal, and they should be able to re-polish the surface of the Opal to bring back the original brilliance.
Doublet and Triplet Opals should never be soaked, or submersed in harsh chemicals, bleach, oils, cleaners or water for any period of time, as this can break down the epoxy adhesion and cause ‘lifting’ of the layers that make up a Doublet or Triplet Opal.
A splash of water here and there is definitely ok though. If the stone starts to show condensation between the layers, or starts to take on a ‘foggy’ or ‘dull’ sort of appearance, you will know that it has been subjected to too much moisture. Doublets and Triplet Opals may be wiped with a soft, damp cloth and you can also use mild detergents, but again, remember to never soak or submerse the stone in water. (Don’t wear Opals while cleaning the dishes, or taking a bath or shower).