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There seems to be much confusion about the proper way to care for and clean opals and opal jewelry.
To read about opal care please scroll past our product selection to the bottom of this page. If you have any questions on caring for your opal jewelry I would be happy to assist you anytime. You can contact me via the live chat or by email at email@example.com
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? If its Australian opal, yes, there is no problem in doing this, but if the stone is from Africa or from areas that are damp, the opal will soak up the water and lose color as stated above.
It is possible to restore the color by drying out the stone but it’s not worth the risk. If you take a look at the blog below you will see that many people have bought hydrophane opals that are not from the desert areas of Australia and these opals have lost their color. (See comments at the bottom of this page in answer to a customer who had this problem)
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 lose 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 opalmine.com site, and you damage your stone, in most cases, it can be re-polished very cheaply. If you have stones already that need re-polishing, 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.
This advice comes from my wife Renate’s personal experience. She was sporting a beautiful blue boulder opal ring, 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 wastepaper 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 a 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.
Cleaning. 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.
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.
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 don’t hesitate to leave a message on this blog.
Example of assistance given to a customer who bought an African opal which turned brown:
The opal is probably from Ethiopia and many of them lose color when immersed in water because of their porosity. The first thing I would do is go back to the jeweler you purchased it from and complain and either ask for your money back or at least half so that you can buy an opal from Australia that you won’t have problems with. The jeweler should have disclosed this to you at the point of sale.
If you want to try to stay with your opal because of sentimental reasons or if you cannot get a refund, I can offer you some suggestions. I am happy to give you this free service.
Try putting your ring on the mantlepiece in full sunlight or under a warm desk light for a few hours and allow the stone to completely dry out. This could take a longer period of time but when the water has evaporated the color should come back. Just remember not to put it in water in future.
If you like, take a look at this comprehensive article we have written about opal rings
I hope this explanation has helped. If you like let me know how you go. Pleased to help further if possible.