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Caring for Opal Jewelry

There seems to be much confusion about the proper way to care for and clean opals and opal jewelry. Here’s a simple guide that will let you preserve your beautiful opals and keep them looking their best. Opal jewelry like this needs to be cared for.

Buy quality stones from a knowledgeable dealer or jeweler, preferably someone who is a cutter. Now this may sound like strange “care” advice, but the stone you purchase is as important as the care you give it. Here’s why.  Many jewelers don’t know one opal from another, and cannot offer you the right opal care advice. If you know what you’ve got…you can know how to look after it.
Can I put my opals in water? Yes, there is no problem in doing this, but if the stone is an opal doublet or triplet, it would be unwise to leave it in water (particularly hot water with detergent..as in washing up water) for long and extended periods of time. The opal triplet I gave my sister was used in all sorts of situations and was still going strong after 15 years of constant use…but this is not recommended for triplets and doublets as it may affect the cement that holds the protective crystal cap on the stone. Of course in the case of solid opals, hot water or detergent or oils will not effect them.

How do oily substances affect an opal? If you mean wearing it under the car when you change the oil or pack the wheel bearings, …the oil won’t soak into the stone or hurt it in any way,…but the grime and the possibility of scratching it would be the biggest problem. However, oily hand and face creams will not hurt the stone, except that it may build up around a ring and make it look unsightly.

What should I do to avoid damaging an opal? Don’t wear it doing the gardening, because the sand or soil may take the polish off the stone, or, if you get too energetic, you could smash the stone against a rock,…and opals don’t like being treated that way. (Neither would you nor I).. And of course, there is the chance that the gold or silver claws will be damaged, and you could loose the stone altogether. Take it off if you are doing any sort of work that could bring the stone in contact with hard surfaces. A flick of the wrist in the wrong direction could chip it.

What do I do if my stone loses its polish or becomes scratched? Now, this is why we suggest that you buy from people who cut the stone. For example if you get a stone from the opals.co site , and you damage your stone, in most cases it can be re-polished very cheaply. If you have stones already that need repolishing, contact us for  instructions.

How do I store my opals for long periods of time? Generally it’s safe to store them away, as long as the area is not overheated. It’s not a bad idea to put them in a sealed plastic bag with a little water in case of drying out. Don’t store them for long periods of time under hot lights, as this could crack the stones if the heat builds up and is magnified in a showcase.

Some common sense opal care advice.

This advice comes from my wife Renate’s personal experience. She was sporting a beautiful blue boulder opal, about 4 carats in size, mounted in nice 18k gold, surrounded with diamonds. Worth around $2000. On the way back from the snowfields one year, she went into the ladies room at a fuel station, and after washing her hands with soap and water, she wiped them on a paper towel, and at the same time, pulled off her ring and threw it into the waste paper basket…and didn’t even notice it till we got home, about 1000 km’s up the track. This problem is more pronounced for people who have rather straight fingers with little or no enlarged knuckle. You just have to have a little extra hand cream on, and it will slip right off. ..so just be conscious of it.
Caring for Jewelry with diamond accents.

If you have accompanying diamonds with your opal jewelry, in the case of rings particularly, the diamonds become very dull after a while, even if you’ve given the ring a clean. The main reason for this is that many people only clean the front of the ring and not the back. So…just poor some pure wash-up detergent into the back of your ring, and scrub it from the inside with a soft toothbrush in hot water. The diamonds will sparkle again, and it will not hurt the opal as long as you don’t do it all the time.

Check your jewelry. Inspect your jewelry regularly for claw damage. You can do this yourself if you have a magnifying glass. There’s not mystery to it. If you can see that the claw is loose and the stone moves a little, it’s good to get something done about it. If you hold the item up close to your ear and rattle it, if the stone is very loose you can hear it. If you want to be sure about it, talk to your jeweler.
How to care for opal jewelryCleaning. Any paste or fluid designed to polish brass, will also polish gold or silver. Just use a soft rag, apply the paste, and polish it off. After that, pour on a few drops of household detergent, give it a scrub with a fine toothbrush and wash it off under hot water. This will bring the gold back to what it was like when you purchased the jewelry.

Also, on the subject of opal insurance…If you think your opals are insured under your household policy, make sure you have a good talk with your broker or agent. Ask the following questions.

 

 

 

Securing and Insuring your Opals.


House security: A good addition to every home is a deadlock. Usually they cost around $50 per door, but the money is well spent, if you install them on all external entries. An experienced thief can pick these locks too, but it is not likely as there are too many other locks that are a snack to open. If you have a room in the house where you put your valuables, put a deadlock on the internal door as well. Your insurance company will give you a smile of approval for this initiative, and probably a healthy discount too, that can go toward the cost of the locks….See your broker for negotiations along this line.

 

By Giving a little forethought to your  purchase and by applying the suggestions in this opal care  section, we are confident that you will get many years of service from your jewelry. If you need any advice in this regard, please dont hesitate to leave a message on this blog.

113 Responses to “Opal Care”

  1. Jeannie Boston

    I was told by a patient of mine that if your opal gets dull and doesn’t “spit fire” any longer, you should put it in the freezer and this would cause it to spit fire again. Is this true?

    Reply
    • Peter Brusaschi

      Jeannie, well it wont hurt the opal, but it won’t help it either. The first thing you have to do is identify what sort of opal you have. if it is a triplet, it will have a crystal cap protecting the stone. this is the main reason why opals become whiteish and lose their color. if the cap has moisture under it there’s not much you can do about it. whether putting it in the fridge or not will dry out the moisture, i have no idea. But if the stone is a solid opal and it has lost its gleam, it just needs a re polish. best idea is to take a shot of it with a macro camera and send it to me. i should be able to tell what you have and give you some further advice. just leave a message for me in the contacts form of http://www.opals.co and i’ll do what i can to help. Best wishes Jeannie, Peter

      Reply
    • Peter Brusaschi

      Jeannie, i just sent you a reply in the encyclopedia chat. i think it would be good if you sent me a pic of your opal and i will take a look at it to make sure of what you have. I’ll ask Wes, the site manager to let us know the best way of doing this. peter

      Reply
  2. Beverly Eurice

    Will swimming in salt water hurt my solid opal pentant necklace? I will be in the water 1 hour, twice a week for an aqua exercise class. Thanks.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Beverly! No, the water won’t hurt your stone if its a solid opal. The only thing to check is that your pendant and its chain are either solid silver or gold, and not plated. Not that the water will hurt these much anyway but if you are swimming in chlorinated water it could in time. Also be careful that you have a strong chain because flopping around in water or indeed any other activity could break the chain and result in losing the whole pendant. Hope this helps. Peter

      Reply
  3. Anita Nowocin

    I have a black opal that has turned milky looking, but when put in water it turns back to black. A jeweler polished it to see if the surface could be cleaned. She then told me that I was not real, was probably made from pieces and acrylic. Would that be the case if it changes color in water? How can I be sure it is real or a fake?

    Reply
    • admin

      Anita it sounds like you have an opal triplet which is real opal but has a crystal cap on top. If you wear this opal a lot in washing up or in the shower, the cement that holds the crystal cap can go white and eventually the cap will come off. when you put it back in water, probably the water fills in the cavity and it turns black again. The only thing you can do is either replace the opal with a new triplet, or buy a real black opal that wont go like this. if you want me to replace the opal you will have to send it to me here in Australia. There is a chance that i can repair the existing opal but i wont be able to tell till i see it. Peter

      Reply
  4. sbentley

    I have already read all of this. I contacted you to find out how to polish the opal or if there is anything else I can do. I need instruction on how to polish an opal. The opal in the ring is a solid opal.

    Reply
    • admin

      Sorry about that! There used to be a paragraph in this section with basic opal cutting procedures but it has been taken out in the site upgrade. We are going to install a link to this article from that section but in the meantime i will email you two articles. One that explains how you can do it by hand without machinery, the other if you want to learn it professionally. Hope that will help you. Peter

      Reply
  5. Sarah

    I got an opal ring from my grandmother after she passed away; how can I tell if it is a triplet or a doublet?

    Reply
    • admin

      Alexander, you can start by going to this page in http://www.opals.co : http://www.opals.co/opal-information/solids-doublets-and-triplets/ You will notice that a clear description is given of the different ways opal is manufactured. I can tell from just looking at the opal whether its an opal triplet or a solid opal but you will need to be able to see the opal from the side and if its in a setting that hides the side, this might be difficult. if you have a macro camera, take a shot of the opal from the top and the side if possible and load it into this blog and i will see if i can identify it by the picture. hope that helps. Peter

      Reply
  6. Martha Bristol

    Hi, I am trying to learn more about opals. I know about the doublets, and triplets, and I think the opal bracelet I have has doublets, as it appears to be only 2 layers. The thing that puzzles me is I can see tiny bubbles on the top, what types of caps are used on opal doublets, and how do they affect the price? I would not think a crystal cap would have tiny bubbles, do you think it is plastic? Also is there such a thing as a synthetic opal, made like nature, but lab created? If so how can I tell if mine is natural or synthetic?

    Reply
    • admin

      Martha, clear crystal caps are often cemented to opal for protection of the stone and sometimes small bubbles can develop under the cap. It can happen too with doublets when the back of the opal is cemented to either black opal potch or brown opal ironstone. I wouldnt be concerned about it unless you start to lose opal color and this may mean that the cap is lifting. Yes, there is such a thing as lab produced opal. It can either be plastic based or grown naturally in a laboritory. We dont deal in any synthetic opal. We always stick the natural opals so that our customers can be assured that they are getting the real thing. Hope that helps. Peter

      Reply
  7. Judy Dell

    I recently purchased a solid opal ring with an antique white gold setting. The opal is rather milky and the and the “fire” does not show as clearly as it should. Can I polish it myself without having to remove the opal?

    Thanks for any help you can give me!

    Reply
  8. Judy Dell

    I have a beautiful filigre antique ring with a solid opal setting. The ring opal shows a lot of wear, chipped and very milky surface that needs repolished and shined. Can you tell me how I can do this myself?

    Many thanks!

    Reply
    • admin

      Judy, i see you have asked this question before about opal repairs. somehow i must have missed it. sorry about that. anyway,. please go to http://www.opals.co/?p=2348&preview=true and read an article i have just posted on opal repair on this site. have a read first then come back to this forum if you need some more suggestions. Always pleased to help. Best wishes and hope we can get your opal looking like new again, Peter

      Reply
  9. Sharon Watson

    Hi…Are you sure about all the info you gave? I have read elsewhere that extreme cold may crack an opal, yet you answered someone that they could put it in the freezer. Also, the ok in salt water answer…I have read only distilled water…also, the only oil for an opal is glycerin, and other oils can harm an opal….Anyway, I am not questioning you, but rather am confused. Sharon

    Reply
    • admin

      Sharon thanks for the question. its a good one and it will benefit all readers of this blog. Well, I’ve been cutting Australian opals for around 40 years. In recent years with the development of white water based glues we havnt had to use the refrigerator but for a long time we had to heat the stone up to hold it on to a dop stick using sealing wax, then put it in the freezer to shrink the wax and release the stone. I have never had an Australian opal break in this process. If an opal is of poor quality from a mine that produces stones with to high water content, it will crack without doing anything to it. Some people have put opals away in a safe for a few years and found them to be shattered. This happens particularly with opals that come from mountains or coastal areas like some parts of Australia and particularly Africa and Nevada in the USA. These opals will crack as soon as you apply just a little heat on them. I believe that some have not cracked but mostly they have to be kept in water. But Australian opals from known fields are extremely hardy. The only thing you have to keep in mind is not to wear them where they could be scratched or broken against a rock or a brick wall. Opals can shatter, and incidentally, so can diamonds, but generally speaking, no problems with hot, cold, oil, water, acid, or anything else you can throw at them. (There may be some acids that could tarnish them so don’t try that) but normal treatment is fine.

      Reply
      • Sharon Watson

        Thank you so much for your thorough reply clarifying questions I have about opal care. You are an expert with your years with opals, and I am so glad to have your input.
        I would also like to ask: Is there a way to revive the fire in a large white opal that appears now dead of fire? Also, how do you polish out tiny surface scratches and bring back the surface shine? (jeweler’s rouge?) Thanks again for answers when you have time…

        Reply
        • admin

          No problems Sharon. It’s a pleasure to be of help. The end of year rush is just about over now so I have a little time to spend chatting. I should have mentioned in my previous comments that there is always an exception to the rule. There have been times when a stone has cracked in the process but this is an example of an opal from a cracky mine and at times they get mixed in with the good ones. But putting them through some rough treatment quickly separates them so that customers are not landed with the problem. In regard to your white opal that has lost its shine. It must be a ring because pendants and other jewelry usually don’t have that problem. It only happens when a ring is worn over a long period of time, perhaps in the garden etc, like I wear mine. If this is the case, it’s easy to shine it up. if you don’t have opal cutting machinery, you can fix it with some wet and dry sandpaper from the hardware store. Get grade 600 and rub out the scratches. Might be an idea to get some 1000 grit or 1200 grit as well to bring up the polish more. If you know someone who is a panel beater, they will know what I am talking about. But you will then need either some cerium oxide or tin oxide to finish the polish using a cotton cloth. (An old pillow slip or sheet would be fine) to take a look at the whole procedure, just click here. I think ive mentioned 700 or 800 grit sandpaper here. it doesnt matter that much. Do a google search to see if there is a lapidary supply shop in your area so you can buy some tin oxide or cerium oxide. you only need a very little. if you have trouble getting it, just let me know on this forum and i will post you a little in an envelope. No charge. Pleased to help.

          Reply
      • Sharon Watson

        I appreciate your time and information so much! I am now wondering…Do you have a website for a business on the web whereby you receive opal jewelry by mail for repair? I have three opal rings needing attention..one of them for restoration of fire if possible, and the other two for just surface polishing. There presently is not a lapidary in our “capital” city..With your instructions, I am not sure if I want to attempt this on my own..Sharon
        (I think I wrote this reply to your former post…I meant to answer to the latest post about using the sandpaper, etc.) Thank you, Sharon

        Reply
        • admin

          Sure Sharon, we can fix all three rings here. Unfortunately by the time you pay registered mail back and forth it will cost you maybe $120 including gold or silver restoration. but we usually include some little gift with each parcel. perhaps an opal pendant to ease the pain costs a little. Keep in mind that whenever you seek to repair anything, there is always the risk that something will go wrong and we cannot guarantee that. having said that we have an almost 100% record of results over the years. Not wanting to scare you but its worth reading the letter posted by a Cindy, a Canadian customer here. Haa.. this episode was totally unique.

          Reply
  10. Kelly Burger

    very helpful and quick to respond… Spoke with Peter back and forth on the web, peter was very knowledgeable about the stone and his suggestions worked great. my stone is brighter and the colors more vivid.
    Kelly B

    Reply
    • admin

      Kelly sorry for late recognition of your nice comments. Really appreciate you taking the time to let folks know about your experience with us. very best wishes, Peter

      Reply
  11. Leah Gray

    When my husband purchased me an opal for my birthday he was told that I needed to put a drop of oil on it every 6months or it would crack? Do I really need to do that? Or just clean it with water? So confused,
    Thanks

    Reply
    • admin

      Leah, there are all sorts of ideas going around about opal and for that matter, other gemstones. The fact of the matter is that if you have a piece of Australian opal from a reliable field, you dont have to do anything with it except make sure you dont wear it roughly in the garden or somewhere where you might bang it against a wall or scratch it. If you have a cracky opal from a bad field, there’s nothing much you will be able to do about it. it will crack unless you keep it in water all the time. just post a picture of your opal on this site and i will take a look to see what type of opal you have. best wishes, Peter

      Reply
    • admin

      Pamela, please ask your supplier to tell you what a lab opal is. you need to know these things before buying. i already know of course but it would be interesting to hear what they have to say. Peter

      Reply
    • Peter

      sorry Pamela, just noticed this other blog. Yes, i would say the same thing applies to lab opal. just dont wear it in the garden where you could scratch it. peter

      Reply
  12. admin

    Just testing this forum to make sure its working ok. thanks everyone for your comments. Peter

    Reply
    • Peter

      Tara, just clarify the question a bit more regarding lab opal. will be happy to make some comments. peter

      Reply
    • Peter

      Tiara, we have had a few technical problems in the blog of opalmine.com and i am just checking on some comments made. sorry for not getting back to you sooner very best wishes Tiara, Peter

      Reply
    • Peter

      Tara, we have had a few technical problems in the blog of opalmine.com and i am just checking on some comments made. Many apologies for not getting back to you earlier. please comment again if you would like. very best wishes, Peter

      Reply
  13. Brad

    We purchased a nice opal ring locally. The ring and the three opals in it seemed fine when we got it. After less than a year cracks began forming on 2 of the opals. At the store they say that it basically would have to be cause by carelessness and my wife does not do anything that could damage it. The opals are very thin and we wondered if it was possible that because of the design that it was at high risk for cracking. I do not know what type it is but the color is intense blue with some green, probably a black opal. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Peter

      Brad, if possible, send me a picture of the ring. you can post it on this forum. i will do what i can to help you. Sounds to me like the jeweler is trying to fob you off. thats no way to run a business. you will need to use a digital macro camera. maybe even your phone camera will do if you have one. keep in touch.

      Reply
    • Peter

      brad, not sure what you mean by this, but anyway like i said. send me a picture and let me know if you need help with photography. just make sure you do it with a black velvet background if possible, or black cardboard or material if not velvet and also make sure that you dont allow too much light. put some strips of white paper around the base of the ring away from it so that the black area will sourround the ring. i will clean up the image for you for free. no obligation. pleased to help if i can

      Reply
  14. natalia

    Hey there! I bought an opal, australian opal I believe.
    it was beautifully blue and green, very bright and very powerful
    and then I looked into to opal care via google and it told me to soak it in water ( so I did )
    and first it lost ALL colour, went brown and then it healed and became light blue/ white.
    then one day I went in the ocean, it lost its color and once again.. it changed colours to green.

    Now it’s permanently brown.
    and I don’t know what to do to help it heal.
    Do I put it in water again and then let it dry inside a box with no light?

    Reply
    • Peter

      Natalia, best idea is to send me a good close up picture of your opal for a start. i will take a look at it and give you my opinion, no problems. I will send you an email so you can reply direct. best wishes, Peter

      Reply
  15. Jessica

    Hi,

    I recently purchased a pair of opal earrings. They are Ethiopian opals and they were put into a sterling regular post setting. They are about 2 months old now and I noticed today that there is a pretty significant chunk in th back of the setting that seems like it has chipped completely off. It looks as though its being held on by only the setting, but I am afraid to remove it and confirm, if that is the case.

    It was purchased from a shop that is originally in Florida and I am in Maryland so it’s not really possible for me to go to them for a repair. Is there anything I can do? Is it possible to repair aiding chunk of opal? Are Ethiopian opals known for brittleness? I just don’t know how it could’ve cracked because they obviously haven’t been harshly treated since they’re in my ears and I haven’t taken any blows to the head!

    The only other thing I can guess is that if they were chipped when I got them and I didn’t notice, or that the setting was put on way too tight.

    Thank you for your time!
    -Jessica

    Reply
    • Peter

      Hi Jessica, not wanting to denegrate the ethipean stone but i have tried many times to cut them and they have all eventually cracked. i would say that the fracture was there from the beginning or at least sometime after it was cut, polished and set. The people you bought them from should stand by them. this is not your fault. can you see if they have a website and send them a polite message asking them to replace the stones with australian opal. our policy is to give a lifetime guarantee and maybe there are others who look after their customers well. in the meantime, you could repair it yourself using quick dry epoxy resin. just contact me on skype peter_brusaschi and i will talk you through it. actually if the crack is in the background of the stone, it may not be obvious anyway and you might be able to live with it. but if it contineues to crack the stone will be ruined, so its a good idea to try to get them to support you. anyway, i will help in whatever way i can, without obligation. leave your email address here first before skyping and i will email you: http://opalmine.com/contact-us/

      Reply
  16. Zoe

    Hi, I just purchased a beautiful 6 carat Mexican opal on ebay. It was white. I had it mounted in a pendant, and after wearing it a few days, it has turned clear. This may be a case of buyer beware, but is there anything I can do? I spent a lot of money getting it mounted. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • Peter

      Zoe, i imagine that you have got a piece of hydrophane opal which tends to lose its color in water but some lose their color without water. We have opal similar in Australia from the coastal areas and while its very beautiful, it cannot be used without risk as the color can disappear. i would suggest getting back to the supplier in eBay and asking for a refund because sellers have to make sure they dont cheat anyone or eBay gets upset with them. first of all, go to the contacts area here http://opalmine.com/contact-us/ and i will make some suggestions by email. Maybe you could take a close up shot of your opal and send it to me by email but please make sure that you reduce the size of the image to around 100 to 200 kb. I will help as much as possible without obligation. Best wishes Zoe, Peter

      Reply
      • Zoe

        Hi Peter, I tried to e-mail you, but I kept getting an error message. Here is the description of the opal from ebay: 6 carat Cabochon Ethiopian Welo Carving with Multicoloured Fire 13 MM X 12 MM X 7 MM
        I had exposed the opal to water. Per your advice, I let the opal dry, and the color is returning. I paid more to have the opal mounted then I paid for the stone so any advice you can give me will be much appreciated. If the best you can offer is “don’t get it wet”, I understand and appreciate your time. Thank you!

        Reply
  17. Catherine

    Hello – I am considering buying a 1920s opal and diamond ring at auction, but the auctioneer has told me (when I asked) that the opal has crazing. Should I avoid it? I can email you some pictures if that would help. Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Peter

      Catherine, it would be OK if you got it for the price of the jewelry itself. If the opal is crazed it means its cracked and would probably be worthless. It means the stone comes from an untrustworthy field maybe Africa or Nevada or Europe or some known cracky fields. If you like send me the url where its featured or a picture by email and I will advise you. You can easily get another stone cut to fit but you have to work out the costs first. Pleased to help if i can. no obligation to buy anything. Advice is free. best wishes Catherine.

      Reply
  18. heather

    Can a doublet or triplet opal that has been damaged by water be dried out. I have had mine for several years and it has gone cloudy.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Peter

      Heather is the stone in a setting? sorry for not answering till now. i did not get a reminder of your question. peter

      Reply
  19. Kathy

    Hello,
    My mother fell and the prongs gouged out two areas of her opal . Can the opal be trimmed down and reshaped or is it a lost cause?

    Thanks so much.
    Kathy

    Reply
    • Peter

      Kathy, if possible please email me a picture of the damage. you will need a macro camera and you will need to reduce the size of the image to around 300 kb. the picture needs to be clear. email it to peterATopalmine.com just replace the AT with @ . this is for security. best wishes Kathy

      Reply
  20. Lisa Yehuda

    Hi Peter!
    I read through the posts and found a similar question about polishing a stone in a setting but the attached link for more information didn’t work :-(.
    I have a ring from the 50′s with a grey high-domed opal in a bezel setting. The opal has beautiful colors in red, green, yellow and orange, overlaid by specks of blue hues. It is altogether in good condition, no crack, no chips but it has lots of small scratches concentrated mainly on the top of the dome. Is there a way to polish the stone maybe without removing it from the setting? And if no, could a possible removing damage the ring/stone?
    Thank you so much for your reply.
    Lisa

    Reply
    • Peter

      Lisa: as long as you sand the top of the stone where most if not all of the scratches will be concentrated it should be ok. is the stone claw or bezel set. if its claw, its not difficult to take the stone out and cement it onto a stick with white carpenters glue. then you can get at it better. but if not just sand and polish the top and it should be ok. did you read the article on doing it by hand? here it is: http://opalmine.com/opal-repairs-without-machinery/ let me know if you need further help after you have read this article. Best wishes Lisa

      Reply
      • Lisa Yehuda

        Hello Peter!
        Thanks for the article! I read it and found it very useful. My stone is set in a bezel-setting, taking it out would go way over my abilities. I will try to polish the stone on my own and hope it will improve its appearance a bit.
        Thanks again!
        Lisa

        Reply
        • Lisa Yehuda

          Oh, i forgot…
          Can i start with the 1200 grit? I guess every grit coarser than that would only add scratches instead of removing them…?

          Reply
          • peter

            sure Lisa, start from very fine if you like. also rub the paper on an old bottle first to take the edge off it and experiment first. if it has deep scratches you have to have a sharper paper but if not just smooth it out a bit first.

  21. Robert

    I am considering purchasing a hat with an opal triplet mounted on the hat band.
    Will wearing the hat in the sun present any problems?

    Reply
    • Peter

      Robert, what sort of opal is it? send me a picture of the ad if you can and i will try to help, peter

      Reply
  22. Robert

    Peter,

    It may be the same type of triplet available on the Akubra Coober Pedy although the Akubra style I am considering is a different model.

    Reply
    • peter

      Robert you can tell what it is by what you paid for it. without looking at the back, this could be an opal triplet or a black opal. If you paid maybe $100 or so for the hat, it would have to be an opal triplet. A black opal with red like this would probably be worth around $1000. that’s the best way of knowing what it is without taking it out of the setting or if the back is exposed, turning it around. hope that helps you Robert, Peter

      Reply
  23. Robert

    Peter,

    I knew it was a triplet since the ad indicated that. My question was whether wearing the hat in the sun would present any problems to the triplet. Any thoughts on that? The hat in question costs $190.00.

    Reply
    • peter

      sorry for misunderstanding your request. No problems with heat with opal triplets unless you cook them in an oven or something. their main enemy is constantly putting them in hot detergent water but i doubt that will be a problem with a hat. Peter

      Reply
  24. Robert

    Thanks, Peter.

    I’m looking forward to getting the hat.

    Robert

    Reply
  25. Dave Holding

    I bought my wife a white opal ring. Having got it home and on very close inspection in different angles we noted what we thought was a crack. We returned to the jeweller who initially said it was probably an inclusion but then said it was perhaps a crack. The ring was sent to their supplier who has said that the ring is being soaked in some kind of oil and the crack/inclusion is disappearing. We are due to get it back in the next few days. What is the difference between a crack (I take to be catastrophic) and an inclusion (that only matters if it detracts from the beauty of he ring)? Should I just refuse to accept the ring and try to get my money back?
    Dave

    Reply
    • Peter

      Dave, the difference is that a crack is what it means. The stone is cracked. Sometimes it can be secured and fixed so wait till you get it back and take a close look with a magnifying glass. if its still cracked just ask for your money back. An inclusion is if there is some natural mark remaining from the actual stone itself and this can be acceptable as long as it is in the right context. natural inclusions in boulder or black opal are most acceptable and in fact can be a proof that its a natural stone. However if the stone is presented as a clean faced stone with no natural inclusions, and a objectionable mark develops it could be copi in black opal but its more likely to be a crack because inclusions dont just appear. they are there from the start. anyway send me a clear picture of no more than around 300 kb to peterATopalmine.com (replace the A with @) and i will take a look. Pleased to help if i can. best wishes Dave, Peter

      PS. Not wanting to discourage the sale from your supplier, just tell him that if the stone needs replacement, i can help him at a dealers price.

      Reply
  26. Kat

    I just got my nose pierced with purple opals in titanium. They told me to snorkel in distilled water with a little salt (4 tsp. salt to 1 gal. water) 2 times a day to keep the piercings clean. I have no idea what kind of opals these are, they are small! Do you think this will work? Even though I had it done at a high end shop, I don’t think they know too much about gemstones, just a little…and the opals are admittedly Brand New to their stock of piercing jewelry. (Which is different from jewelry for already healed piercings, because you don’t have to keep washing the piercing with special aftercare instructions for healing.) Thanks, Kat

    Reply
    • Peter

      Kat, salt water will not hurt the opals if they are natural and non synthetic stones. I dont know about synthetics because i dont sell them and i cannot tell what you have without seeing them so if you have a good digital camera that can take macro shots, send me a picture. for instructions you can go to http://opalmine.com/services/opal-photography/ and leave some comments at the bottom of the page if you need help. email the pictures to peterATopalmine.com (replace the AT with @) but make sure you have trimmed the pictures back to around 300 kb. Peter

      Reply
  27. Kat

    Oh, and what I meant by “do you think this will work” is: is it okay to put the opals in salt water for a couple minutes of snorkeling to clean the healing piercing? Thanks! Kat

    Reply
    • Peter

      As mentioned in the other answer. Salt water is fine with opals. In fact nothing much effects opals unless they are triplets and constant dredging in washup water can dislodge the crystal protective cap after years of mishandling.

      Reply
      • Kat

        Thank you so much for the answer and your time. I just wanted to be sure I had it right, as there is some conflicting info on the Internet regarding different gemstones and how to clean them, esp. opal. Thanks!

        Reply
  28. Margaret Hutson

    Hi,
    I have a about 2crt opal (semi black) with 12 diamonds around it ,it is beautiful colours from red blue. Light green yellow now the back of the opal had not been polish I don’t know the reason why.
    I have been told over the 31 years that I should have it done.It cost me $3000 to have it made up in gold,I was on vacation in Cairns last year I had it on and I was walking pass a opal store,the man in the store me looking at the jewellery ask if he could have a look at my ring.
    He told me if he had the ring he would put a price of $35.000 he said it was a beautiful opal.
    Now I am asking if I should have the back of the opal polished after all these years.
    Thank you
    Margaret

    Reply
    • Peter

      margaret, please send me a picture of the opal ring to peterATopalmine.com but reduce the size to around 500 kb. peter

      Reply
      • Peter

        Wow, opal sure doesnt like that treatment but if none of the diamonds have come out and there are no chips on the opal, it seems it survived without a problem. If its a solid opal there should be no problems. If it hasnt lost its color i wouldnt be concerned. you just gave it a good clean up.. but let me know if you can see any visible signs of damage. peter

        Reply
  29. Kathy

    Hi, I have a concern about my solid opal and diamond gold ring. I lost it about a week ago and of course found it in the bottom of the drier. It had gone through the washing machine and the drier. My clothes were far from dry, so I’m not sure exactly how hot it got in there, but I have a feeling my ring is pretty damaged. Thankfully, it is not visibly damaged whatsoever. Is it damaged on the inside or dried out? And is there any way to restore it?

    Reply
  30. Sally

    Hi, am hoping you can answer a question for me. Some years ago I bought some opals that were said to be black opals. The tv salesman shone a flashlight on them &, not knowing anything about gemstones, I thought it was cool that they went from black to a brilliant blue. NOW I see that opals’ colors don’t normally need a flashlight!! Is there anything I can do with them? Can’t I grind or polish off the top layer somehow so that they display their fire? Lesson 1: watch out with tv gem salesmen!

    Reply
    • Peter

      Sally, i will do my best to help. first i need to get a good close up picture of the opals so that i can make some comments. i will send you a separate email. just answer it to make connection and take some shots of the stones. just cut the size of the shots down to around 1000 pixels. please dont send large images with lots of blank area. you might have to learn how to edit them in a graphics program if you dont know already. Peter

      Reply
  31. opal mad

    Hi Paul I have 5 opals bought in 2 Coober Pedy, (1 semi black and one crystal) and 3 black ones from Lightning Ridge. I am torn between rub over setting and claw setting my head tells me the rub over setting as it is more secure but my heart wants the claw setting. I fancy the claw setting because I want to show off the host rock and see they are the real deal whereas it’s hard to show that with a rub over setting. They will all be rings. They will be worn daily. I’ve ben wearing a tiny black opal in a 3 claw setting for the last 8 months no bother and daily at that. I bought the black opal loose in Cairns night market and got it set when I got back to the UK But the reality is that I have also been wearing 6 other opal rings that may or may not be the real things for years and they all now marked or scratched in some way, decisions decisions any advice would be great
    Ps I don’t need reminding that I may look barmy wearing umpteen rings on every finger :-)

    Reply
    • admin

      Jack! great to hear that you are an opal addict and wearing opal rings is sure the best way to promote them. i think you should start by sending me some good pics of the rings you already have and the unset stones you have bought. that way i can help you make a decision. Yes, bezel settings are more secure but like you say without being able to see the sides of the stone, they could very well be doublets or triplets and if you are a bit sensible, not wearing your rings roughly in the garden or wherever you have a chance of catching them on something, claws are fine. Particularly if they are helped with a little jewelers cement in the setting process. try to get some good macro shots but please reduce the size of the pics to around 1000 pixels or it gets too heavy for email sending. Pleased to offer my suggestions. no obligations. I will send you an email to make direct contact. best wishes, Peter

      Reply
  32. Amy

    So I just received a vintage opal ring and was told not to wear it in the shower because they are sensitive. After googling everyone said that wasn’t true. But I carelessly forgot. And now my white opal is more blue. I don’t think it’s an doublet or triplet because there are no layers when I look at it from the side. Help?

    Reply
    • admin

      Amy you might have bought an African opal. when you put them in water they lose their color or change. hopefully the color will come back. or maybe you have an opal triplet and the cap has allowed steam behind it. go to http://www.opalmine.com and let me know what type of opal you think you have. peter

      Reply
  33. Dan

    I purchased two opal doublet pieces at the Idaho rock & gem show. Immersed in water they show excellent fire but not much when they dry out. Is there anything I can do to show the fire when dry? Thanks

    Reply
    • admin

      Dan, maybe the opal doublets have not been polished properly. opal color will show up in water if unpolished but when they dry out the color will be subdued. if you like take some good pics of them and send them direct to my email address which is shown in red at the top right hand side of the opalmine front page. http://www.opalmine.com But make sure the pics are clear and reduce their size to around 1000 pixels. Pleased to help if i can. best wishes Dan. Peter

      Reply
  34. Judith

    Peter, thank you for being such an “opal mine” of help for so many people. I have a Q for you too. Is there a safe way to remove opals from earring settings they were glued into with two part epoxy? I did one lopsided… :( They have been set about 4 months, and I dont mind destroying the setting to get the opals back.They are Cooper Pedys. Thank you for any advice you can give!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Judith! regarding removing your opals from a setting cemented in with epoxy resin. First, if the opals are triplets you have to be very careful but if they are solids, its easy. you probably know the difference but in case you dont, opal triplets will be dark and if you are able to see the back of the opal, it will be either black or a grey color. If solid opals from coober pedy, they will be either a milky color or a crystal more see through look. At any rate you use the same procedure for both stones. just soak them overnight in motholated spirits. You might have to leave them there longer to dislodge the epoxy. but with the triplets, keep checking them because the caps of the triplets are often also cemented on with a type of epoxy and the method can lift the cap on the triplets. hope this helps, peter

      Reply
  35. Judith

    Dear Peter, Thank you so much for the quick reply! I hope you dont mind a followup just to make sure I get this right, My opals are solids. Not being familiar with methylated spirits, I looked it up in Wikipedia and found it is also called Denatured Alcohol and that the alcohol is often mixed with
    Peter, Thanks so much for the quick reply!! A followup Q, if you would be so kind, to make sure I get this right. I looked up methylated spirits on Wikipedia and learned it is also called Denatured Alcohol, which is ethyl alcohol mixed with various different chemicals, methyl being one. They list a number of other possible additives including isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and denatonium. My question is, do I need a specific type of this stuff and/or do I need to be sure to avoid any of these additives? I am a little nervous about dunking my opals in a chemical brew and would like to make sure to have the right brew! Again, thanks so much.

    Reply
    • admin

      Judith, yes it seems that Denatured Alcohol is the same as Methylated Spirits. it wont hurt your solid opals. some i have soaked in it for years and it doesnt effect them. but it dissolves epoxy. just get the ordinary stuff they sell in hardware stores. I think vinegar also dissolves epoxy. you could try that first if you like. peter

      Reply
  36. Judith

    Thank you again, Peter! Off to the hardware store. Have a great week!

    Reply
  37. admin

    no problems Judith. let us know how you went. Incidentally if it doesn’t loosen the epoxy, it will be some other sort of glue like perhaps super glue in which case you might need thinners. the same stuff used by the ladies to clean fingernail polish. Peter

    Reply
  38. Judith

    Peter,
    Just letting you know that the opals came out overnight looking good as new. I used a “green” version of Denatured Alcohol, with less methanol (I was chicken), as our local HW store did not have Methylated Spirits. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your kindness and expertise! and happy Easter or Passover or spring, as the case may be!
    Judith

    Reply
  39. admin

    Regarding opal removal from setting. Great news Judith!! Pleased to help anytime. Very best wishes, Peter

    Reply
  40. Martina

    Hi Peter, I have 3 tiny jars of boulder opal rough, from Woodstock, Queensland, Australia. I’ve had these for several years, waiting to decide how to use them. I just opened one of the jars to realize they have been soaking in oil of some sort. I guess I assumed they were in water…. What should I do with them now??? How do I clean the oil off of them? I’m heartbroken and afraid they’re totally ruined. Thank you for your assistance.

    Reply
    • admin

      Martina, regarding your opals, its probably just glycerin. it will probably dissolve in water http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/chemistry-terms/glycerin-info.htm anyway try it and maybe use some washing up detergent. if you like take a picture of them using a macro camera. phone camera should be OK but please cut the image back to around 1000 pixels before sending. email me from the contact on the front page of opalmine.com. i will try to help you.

      Reply
  41. Amber

    I’m making a set of floating opal necklaces, and I’ve looked around, and just to be sure before I set to, I’ve got some questions I believe you could help me with, if you’d be so kind. Since I’m wanting to achieve a “slow fall” look when the pregnant is turned, I know I need oil, not water. Everything I’ve read says I can’t use glycerine oil and that week be just fine. I also checked into what was used in the original floating opal pendants and those sites and articles all say glycerine oil was used. Is this still the recommended oil? I had a lovely, vintage pendant, and I did not know it was in my case when I went into work one day. I went out to my car… and it had exploded!!! My front seat was sparkly and that’s how I found out what had happened! Thank you for your time!!

    Reply
    • admin

      Amber,regarding you opal necklace, as far as i know glycerine was always used for this purpose. its soluble in water if you ever need to wash the opals. best wishes, peter

      Reply
  42. Karen

    Is it OK to swim in the ocean with my opal ring and pendant?

    Reply
    • admin

      Karen regarding your opal ring and pendant. The sea water wont hurt your opal unless it is a triplet although unlikely. Triplets have a crystal can cemented to the stone which can come loose in a lot of hot soapy water. unlikely in the ocean except of course that if your jewelry is claw set, the water can make rings slippery and you could lose the whole thing. or you could break the chain on your opal pendant and the same could happen. So its probably better not to wear them swimming for this reason. hope that helps Karen, Peter

      Reply
  43. Carlos Daniel Cortés Carabias

    Hello, good day. I’m from Mexico and yesterday I bought a Mexican Opal Ring. Unfortunately I hit it against wood while moving my hand somewhat quickly… I think I can see a little scratch on the surface, I am new in this field of gems, plus I don’t use ring regularly so is it possible that wood can do this to opal? Thank you!

    Reply
  44. nick russell

    Hi. I bought a clear opal with ‘celled broadflash’. Looking at it closely later, I found lines running inside the opal that stayed the same from all angles. It looks like faint crazing, but the seller says they are structural lines that define the cell pattern. what to say or do? thank you very much in advance.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Nick. Regarding your opal, best idea is to send me some close up pics of the stone using either shaded natural light or fluorescent inside lights. if its a see through stone, take it on a black background but control the contrast by putting some white paper around the stone and adjusting the cameras light unless you have a camera that will do it auto. be sure to cut the size of the picture down to around 1000 pixels in a graphics program and send it to me. use the email you will see in red underneath the interview on the front page of http://www.opalmine.com I will be happy make some observations without obligation. best wishes, Peter

      Reply
  45. nick russell

    Hi Peter,
    We are really interested in rough opals – love the way the whole rock seems to come alive with a little flash of fire. any recommendations for keeping a rough opal bright? Unless it’s wet, it seems a little dull, I guess coz mainly boulder rock. So, can boulder/rough opal be varnished with resin or the like? Thanks Peter.

    Reply
    • admin

      Nick, did i get back to you about polishing boulder opals? peter

      Reply
  46. admin

    Rick, regarding rough opal, pleased to make some comments. Boulder opal can be polished of course but its a bit tricky and it depends on the quality of the boulder. First, better let me see what you have. it would be good to be able to post a picture on this forum but we dont have that facility yet,. will look into it. in the meantime if you want to send me some pics please go to the front page of this site http://www.opalmine.com and click on the red email contact below the interview on the right hand side of the page. would be happy to give you some details. best wishes Nick, Peter

    Reply
  47. Lauren Ashurst

    Hi Peter,

    The information here is so useful, thank you so much for this site.
    I’ve recently put a small deposit on a boulder opal ring at a well-known opal musem/store in Sydney, but only since then I’ve been told opals are soft styles that can be tricky to care for. The ring I’m buying is a brilliant blue colour but the underside is the colour of normal some and has a crack running along it.
    The crack doesn’t show through to the front of the ring and I asked about it in the store and they said that our would be fine and is very solid.
    So now I’m a bit concerned. It’s a beautiful ring but will be the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, so I won’t be happy if it falls apart! I’ll be leaving Australia soon after I collect the ring too, so I’m unlikely to take it back of anything happens.
    Do you think this is cause for concern?

    Reply
    • admin

      Lauren regarding your boulder opal ring. if you would like you can post a picture of it here for a start. i will send you an email and do what i can to help. no problems.

      Reply
  48. Nichola

    I have a large 2×1 cm opal ring that has broken, cracked along the top 3rd, can I have it reshaped so I can have it reset ??

    Reply
    • admin

      Nichola, regarding your damaged opal: Pleased to advise you about this problem. i can do pretty well anything with opals but will need to see pictures first to give you the right advice. I will send you a contact email and we can talk about it direct. in the meantime, please post a picture on this forum so i can take a look. Keep the pixel size down to around 1000. if you are not good at editing graphics, let me know. peter

      Reply
  49. Lorna

    Hi Peter, please can you advise: I bought a loose opal stone, small size, i’m 99% sure it was solid, I checked it from every angle. It was a black colour when I bought it, with vivid greens and blues inside. I had in set into a gold setting (mount setting with open back), but when I went to collect it the stone had gone totally transparent. It still had the colours inside when it catches the light, but I can see through it now. Do you know what’s caused this, or if there’s anything I can do?

    Reply
    • admin

      Loma regarding your opal. if you would like me to take a look please post some good quality pictures here but crop them so that they dont have a lot of space around them and reduce the size to around 500 pixels. i will take a look and let you know what i think. best wishes, peter

      Reply

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