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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- How much coverage do I have for any one item?
- Do I need to give you a list of all my jewelry items?
- Do you require extra money to make sure expensive items are covered?
- Is my jewelry covered outside my home?
- Am I covered if I lose something?
- What documentation do you require if I file a claim?
- Will you accept my purchase invoice or receipt as proof of value or do I need to get an official appraisal?
- How much do you suggest I insure an item for in case the replacement costs more than I paid for the original?
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.