Opal Care: How To Care For And Maintain Your Jewellery

Opals are a rarity within nature and, due to their formation, should be treated with the utmost care. Precautions must be made to avoid the various breaks and damages that can occur in daily wear. There are many myths and rumours circulating online about treating opal in different ways. This article will list care methods that are based on years of knowledge and personal experience

Opal Jewellery: What NOT To Do

Do not attempt to submerge your opal in water, or other liquids. 

This includes washing your hands or taking a shower. Opals such as doublets and triplets can take the most damage from this. Opal has a strong relationship with water that can be linked back to its very creation. Not only is it composed of water (around 5-6%), but it also has the ability to absorb water. This can have its downfall, however, as too much water can cause the opal to crack, damaging the stunning gem. Submerging the gemstone can cause stress on its composition, and overall lead to damage through a warping of its internal structure. This is a main factor to colour loss and fading, and should be avoided at all costs. 

If possible, avoid sudden changes in temperature. 

It is possible to damage your opal without knowing, especially if the stone is set permanently into jewellery and is exposed to rapid changes in hot and cold temperatures. This is because the water content held within the opal is also being affected. Rapid changes in temperature can cause minor fractures within the stone itself, weakening the overall structure. The reason this is so damaging is because these fractures can take a long time to become visible, and when this has happened, it can be near impossible to fix. 

Avoid dropping your jewellery.

Dropping your opal jewellery on any hard surface can have a massive impact on the stone’s integrity. Even small taps that occur during daily wear can cause a strain. By avoiding this unnecessary pressure, you will be able to uphold the structural integrity of your jewellery, allowing it to last much longer. 

How Do I Fix Damaged Jewellery?

To put it simply: ask your jeweller. There is no ‘clear-cut’ way to fix jewellery, as each opal and circumstance is unique. If your opal has become scratched, it is recommended that you go to your jeweller and ask for them to re-polish the stone. This fix is quite simple, and is arguably the most common. Other problems, such as claw damage or a loose stone, can be fixed by a visit to your local opal jeweller. Cracks within the opals structure can be a lot harder to fix, but it's not impossible. 

Storing Your Opal 

If you need to store your opal for a long period of time, it is important that you do so correctly. Ensure that the area you have picked is safe from harsh temperature changes (like under a hot light), as this will minimise heat damage. 

Simply placing your opal in a cloth bag should be enough. But for a long storage period, some recommend placing your opal with some form of moisture (such as cotton wool with drops of water, or a damp cloth) into a sealed bag, so the gemstone is stored securely with adequate moisture. 

Cleaning Your Jewellery 

There are various ways to clean and maintain your jewellery, both at home and through professional jewellers. 

Polishing and Sonic Cleaners 

It’s always good to take your opal to a professional jeweller to clean and examine. When this is done, there are two main options to be considered: polishing the gem, or using a sonic cleaner. It should be noted that sonic cleaners can weaken the glue bond within doublets and triplets, causing them to break and fall apart. Solid opal will have no problems through this cleaning method. Otherwise, a jeweller will repolish your items, using an abrasive cloth or material to ‘smooth out’ the surface. 

Jewellery Cloths 

A DIY solution to cleaning your jewellery is jewellery cloths. These is a certain material that is made especially for gold and silver (each cloth is made for a different metal), and can help maintain the brightness of your opal and clarity of the metal.