Opal Care and Feeding

  • Wear it often it likes to breathe. Touch it often. It likes contact with the skin. the natural oils in your skin keeps the opal "moist" and lustrous. (Contrary to popular belief, true Australian opal is not porous and will not absorb contamination in perspiration or other bodily moisture.)
  • Do not wash dishes, clothes or other items with it on. Opals contain water. The harsh detergents in dish or laundry soaps can "dry" out the stone.
  • Do not wear opals in any type of hot tub, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, sauna, steam room, bath tub or shower. Exposure to prelong submersion in any water with or without detergents or chemicals will destroy opals.
  • Do not garden with it on. continuous contact with the soil can abrade the surface of your stone.
  • Do not clean your opal jewelry with ultrasonic device. Use plain water and a good, nonabrasive had or facial soap.
  • Do Not store your opal in oil or glycerin.
  • Opal is a "living" stone, which means it must be protected from heat and detergents that "dry" the gem.
  • Opals develop crazing if they are allowed to dry out.
  • Heat treatment is catastrophic!!
  • In addition to cracking, loss of water causes loss of iridescence. 

Working with gem-quality Opals

Care must be taken when polishing and setting opals. Despite their hardness, they are prone to crazing and cracking, and loss of water content causes a noticeable loss of iridescence. To prevent this, opals are normally stored in moist cotton wool or cloth until it is time to work with them. Sometimes, an opal that has lost its opalescence may be "rejuvenated" by rehydrating the stone with water or special oils, but this may only temporarily improve the stone's appearance.

In the opal cutting process the potch (a kind of mineral crust) is ground away from the presentation areas of the gem opal. This process unlike diamond mining, where the blueground (Kimberlite) is crushed away from the diamond crystals.

Individual opals are "dopped" -affixed to the ends of wooden dowels about the size of old fashioned wooden clothespins, usually with dopping wax, which resembles sealing wax.

Grinding and polishing of opals is done under a cold water drip to prevent the stones from overheating and cracking. A series of grits is used, from coarsest to finest, to produce the desired finely polished surface that reveals the full play of color in the opal.

Most gem opals are ground to a highly polished convex oval shape called a "cabochon."

J. Thomson Custom Jewelers
(A wholy owned subsidiary of Opals International Jewelrs)
5770 NW Expressway, Suite 101
Oklahoma City, OK 73132
(405) 495-6610 or
1-800-376-6725
FAX (405) 728-1914
Email: opals@customfinejewelry.com
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