Opals have a mixed reputation, you either love them or you hate them. I personally love them, they have a gorgeous color play and each stone is so unique. I can get lost staring at the flashes of color and magic opals exude.
That being said opals require a little bit more work than other stones. Opal rates around a 5.5-6.5 on the mohr hardness scale. Compared to a sapphire which rates a 9 and a diamond which rates a 10, opal is significantly softer. This means it's more prone to scratching and damage than harder stones. This shouldn't deter you though, with care opals make a beautiful option for jewelry!
Top Ring: Ethiopian Opal | Bottom Ring: Australian Opal
How do you care for an opal?
Depending on the type of opal you have will require different care. Here at Lacee Alexandra we predominantly use Australian Opal in our jewelry. This is because we have found that it is more durable for everyday wear than its Ethiopian counterpart. I absolutely love Ethiopian opals, or you may have heard them referred to as welo opals named after the Wollo Province where they are mined. However, the primary downside of Ethiopian opal is that most of it is hydrophane, meaning that it absorbs water and chemicals very easily. When water is absorbed the stones become almost completely transparent. This mostly temporary change in appearance reverses as the opal dries out, however in my personal experience this isn't always the case. Chemicals, dirt, and oils can cause permanent changes, staying in the stone once absorbed. This can cause cloudiness and loss of color play. Australian opals are much less susceptible to these issues, however, they too can be damaged by chemicals or crack as well so special care is still needed. Unless otherwise noted, all of our opal jewelry features Australian opals.
To avoid heartbreak over damaging your opal I would suggest always removing it while showering or doing any sort of manual labor, anything hard on your hands. This includes yard work, working out, and cleaning just to name a few. I also would never suggest wearing opal while going swimming, pool, or ocean. The chemicals in a pool or spa especially can permanently damage your opal and you definitely don't want that!
How do you clean an opal?
To clean your opal ring all you need is a little water, unscented clear dish soap, and a soft toothbrush. Gently wash your opal ring with a soapy toothbrush under running water (be sure the water is not hot as this can damage the stone!) This is all you should need to keep your ring sparkling clean. With your opal, it is crucial you avoid all ultrasonics, as well as any chemicals as these can damage your opal permanently.
This all may sound scary and intimidating but it's really not! Opal is one of my favorite stones, it is absolutely gorgeous and with a little care, it will last for years and years. It's a good practice to take off any of your jewelry, opals, sapphires, and diamonds included when swimming or doing any manual labor. Jewelry, while in most cases is durable can get damaged. The last thing you want is to be digging for a lost diamond in your garden because you accidentally hit your ring on something while working in the yard and bent a prong. I take my jewelry with any stones off before showering, swimming, or doing any manual labor including cleaning. This keeps all my jewelry including my opals looking their absolute best!
Ready to add an opal ring to your personal collection?