Caring for an opal on vintage jewelry
Why Opal on Used Jewelry Demands Attention
Used opal jewelry is notable for its unique, iridescent colors. However, these sumptuous stones require care to keep their unique appearance over time.
Indeed, the hardness of opal is only 5,5 to 6,5, and it is fragile both to shocks (due to frequent internal tensions, micro-cracks) and to heat (given its the dehydration that this entails, in particular), to chemical products (the opal being more hydrophilic). For all these reasons, the opal is most often cut in cabochon, which moreover, makes it possible to make the most of their play of colors.
Here are the essential tips for taking care of this stone whose name means "precious stone" in Sanskrit and highly regarded in antiquity, while it was later attributed an evil character, but today a symbol of love and of wisdom.
Maintenance tips for an opal on a second-hand jewel
Contact with water: the opal has the particularity of containing water (between 3% and… 20%!), it is a stone which is therefore sensitive to its loss or, on the contrary, to prolonged contact with the water.
Contact with water is generally not a problem, except for certain Ethiopian opals called “hydrophanes” which lose their play of color if they are immersed in water for a long time. Also, we don't like to introduce you to doublet and triplet opals on our second-hand jewelry, but if you have them, avoid showering or washing your hands with them, so as not to affect what maintains the different layers together. As for the “boulder” opal, it will hold up against hot water or oils.
It is possible to clean it with a damp cloth but in general, it is better to avoid any contact with oils or cosmetics (creams, perfumes, etc.). Never subject it to ultrasound either, always because of its water content.
It is wise not to leave the stone in an overheated or too cold place, the opal can be damaged, crack especially if it is too “dry”.