Caring for your opal
Caring for your solid opal
Opal stands in a class by itself. More than any other gem, each opal is distinctly individual. Like many other gemstones, opals are delicate. They require care to ensure their health and longevity.
Opal is approximately the same hardness as glass (around 6.5 on Moh’s scale of hardness), so it is important to treat your opal carefully, to avoid damaging it by scratching or breakage. We recommend removing your opal rings when working in the garden, doing house work, preparing food at the kitchen bench, during physical or sporting activities, while washing dishes, etc. If you wear an opal pendant on a long chain, take care that it doesn’t swing forward and collide with a hard surface.
Solid Australian opals cannot be damaged by water. In fact, most precious Australian opals contain about 5-6% water. As a result, opal may crack if subjected to extremely dry conditions or rapid changes in temperature. Try to avoid very high temperatures or low humidity, such as boiling water or zero humidity bank vaults.
Solid Australian opal should be cleaned gently with mild detergent in warm water, using a soft toothbrush or cloth. Avoid bleach and harsh chemicals. Note though that hand sanitiser will not damage Lightning Ridge opal.
You may place solid opal jewellery in a jewellers’ quality liquid cleaner, following the manufacturer’s directions for use, then polish with a jewellery polishing cloth.
Never allow anyone to clean your opal in an ultrasonic cleaner, as the intense ultrasonic vibrations may cause cracking in a solid opal.
If your stone loses its shine or becomes scratched, bring it back to Down to Earth Opals. As with any jewellery, years of wear may result in small scratches and scuff marks that cause an opal to lose its shine and become dull looking. This mainly occurs in opal rings. Professional polishing can bring new life to an opal, which has become dull or scratched. We can also check for claw wear and ensure the security of the setting over time.
If you need to store your opal for a period of time, simply place it in a padded cloth bag (remember to remove the chain) or the original box for protection and put it away.
For longer storage periods, place your opal in cotton wool with a few drops of water, then into a sealed plastic bag then into the original box. The water will not soak into the stone, but will prevent water leaving the stone if it is exposed to very low humidity environments (for example, zero humidity storage safes).
Follow this guide to enjoy the beauty of your opal forever!
Caring for your doublet or triplet opal
Opal doublets and triplets consist of a gem opal layer bonded to a dark backing and, in the case of a triplet opal, a clear quartz or glass cap bonded to the face of the stone to protect the thin layer of opal.
You can enjoy your doublet or triplet opal for many years by following these simple guidelines.
Avoid getting your doublet or triplet wet.
This does not mean your opal will be ruined if you wear it in the shower once or twice, or are caught in the rain.
However, prolonged exposure could allow water to penetrate between the layers, which may cause the layers to separate, producing a foggy or grey appearance or even visible condensation inside the stone.
Cleaning – Doublets and triplets may be cleaned by wiping with a damp soft cloth and mild detergent, but should never be soaked or immersed in liquid. Never use bleach, chemicals, cleaners or ultrasonic cleaners.