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Opal Education

How to Care for Opals

Properly caring for your opal is very important and if done correctly, your new opal jewelry will be able to be treasured for many generations to come

Below is an intensive list of tips and advice that will help keep you opal jewelry looking great.

1. Always buy your opals and opal jewelry from a reputable dealer or jeweler. There are many different types of opal and it is crucial that you get the right care advice for the type of opal you have. Opal Trading Company is an expert in Australian opals. If you have opals from another origin, we are more than happy to help you get the information you require through our large network of international opal dealers. 
Please note, the information provided here is for Australian opals only

2. Understanding what type of opal you have is key to caring for your piece correctly.
Is your opal solid? Or an opal doublet or an opal triplet? Want to know how to tell if your opal is a doublet or triplet? If you ever need help figuring out if your opal is solid, a doublet or a triplet, we are more than happy to help you. We have a number of articles on our website that may be of use. Otherwise please send us an email and we will endeavour to get you the information you require.

  • General opal care
    Being mindful of where and when you wear your opal jewelry can have the most influential benefit on the longevity of the opal. Never wear your opal jewelry when there is a high possibility it can get scratched or dirty. For example, Whilst performing manual tasks, playing sports, or at the beach. Tiny fragments of dirt or sand can easily scratch the stone and any hard knocks against the stone may cause it to crack.

  • Can opals get wet?
    Yes, water will not damage solid Australian opals. So swimming, showering, and washing your hands are all acceptable whilst wearing solid Australian opals. They are however susceptible to cracking if heated excessively or hit hard enough against another solid surface.
    Doublets, Triplets and inlays can be damaged by water. This is due to the deterioration of the glues that are used in the manufacturing process to bind the layers together.
    Australian opals will not change in appearance after being exposed to low heat, climate, humidity, or water.

  • Harsh chemicals and oils
    The rule of thumb here is that you should not expose your opals to harsh chemicals and heavy oils.
    Solid opals do not readily take in water or liquids as they are non-porous. But it is not recommended to wear opal jewelry when susceptible to these types of environments.
    Oils like face and hand creams will not affect the solid opal but may cause a build-up around the stone which could hold small sand particles that may scratch your opal.
    Doublets, triplets, and inlays should not be exposed to any harsh chemicals or oils. The chemicals may break down the glues that bind the thin layers together.

  • Caring for opal set in jewelry
    Also, it is recommended that you consider the type of jewelry and the type of setting that the opal is set in.
    Bezel settings protect the sides and edges of the stone more than a claw-type setting.
    Claw-type settings need to be treated with an extra level of care, as the claw can easily get caught on something and the opal may get dislodged, crack or fall out.
    It is best to keep claw set jewelry pieces for special occasions more so than everyday wear.

  • Caring for solid opals
    Solid opals are a little more robust than opal doublets and opal triplets. Because of this, it is suggested that solid opals are better suited for everyday wear rather than opal doublets and opal triplets. This is because you don’t need to worry about any glues deteriorating like in a doublet or triplet.
    Solid Australian opals are not affected in water or most light chemicals like dishwashing detergent and hand soaps.

  • Caring for composite opals such as opal doublets, triplets inlays, and mosaics
    As mentioned in our doublet and triplet explainer videos, during the process of manufacturing doublets and triplets, glue is used to bond the thin layer of opal to either the quartz capping on the top of a triplet or to the backing stone on either a doublet or triplet.
    Over the years, the glues have become more resistant to water. However, it is still not recommended that opal doublets and triplets be worn whilst performing activities such as showering, swimming, and washing dishes.

  • Cleaning your opal
    Cleaning your solid opal, doublet, triplets, and inlays is quite a simple process. The easiest way to clean them is by getting a small bowl of clean tap water with a tiny amount of detergent and a toothbrush. Scrub around the stone, removing any excessive build-up. Once completed, dry off with a clean microfiber cloth like the ones used to clean spectacles. Do not use any polishing compound to clean the stone. Be sure that any metal polishing cloths that have additives in them don’t contain chemicals or abrasives that may damage your stone.
    Store your cloth in a container so that it does not get contaminated by any dirt particles.
    To bring the shine back to your gold or silver jewellery, we recommend using a gold or silver polish. Rub it onto the gold or silver with a soft rag and polish it off. Once you have finished polishing, wash off with water and a toothbrush.
    Any jewellery with diamond accents can be cleaned much the same way using soapy water and a toothbrush. Ensure you clean the back part of the diamonds also. This will ensure the diamond shine like new.
    Ultrasonic cleaning is usually carried out by jewellers. Solid opals usually are ok to be cleaned this way but do not ever use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean doublets, triplets or inlays as it can affect the glues.
    If you are wanting to clean an antique opal piece, it is advised to seek professional advice from a reputable opal jeweller.

  • What to do if your opal gets scratched or loses its shine
    If your opal gets scratched, the best thing to do is send it to a reputable opal jeweller that can polish it for you.
    If you’d like any help with cleaning your jewelry, we do offer a jewelry repairs service.

  • Storing opals
    Generally, storing opals is quite easy. Just be mindful that they are not stored where they can be exposed to excessive heat. Ensure they do not sit in exposed sunlight or under hot lights for months at a time. Especially if they are in showcases.
    It’s best if they are housed in a small plastic ziplock bag with a damp cloth if they need to be stored for very long periods of time.
    If you are storing your opals in a vault, please keep in mind that some vaults safety systems vacuum out all oxygen when a fire is present. Holding opals under a vacuum without oxygen has been known to cause cracking.
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