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How to Care For Your Opal Jewellery: The Ultimate Guide

by Omotayo Ogundipe August 31, 2022

Opal Jewelry is created using a beautiful milky white gemstone with a long history of being well-loved over the centuries. If you look after opal jewellery correctly, it will last many years and can be passed down as a wonderful family heirloom.

 
As experienced jewellers in our Dublin flagship store, our skilled team are often asked how to care for your opal jewellery. So join us to find out the answer. But, first, let’s get the mini takeaway so you can start making your opal jewellery as good as new! 


Keep your opal jewellery in a pouch or jewellery box in a cool, dry place. Clean gently with mild soap and soft cloth, and avoid harsh chemicals in pools and hot tubs. Avoid prolonged contact with water. Remove opal jewellery before strenuous activities such as working out or doing household chores. 


So we have a better understanding of how to care for your opal jewellery, let’s start with discovering more about this charming semi-precious stone. 

WHAT IS OPAL? 

 

Opal is a beautiful opaque semi-precious gemstone. As the birthstone for October, it can make a thoughtful gift for a loved one born during that month. Its iridescent rainbow of colours glistens beautifully and can appear dramatically intense when reflected under lighting. 


Traditionally the opal has connections with:

  • Hope 

  • Purity 

  • Imagination 

  • Loyalty 

  • Faithfulness 

  • Dreams 

  • Confidence 

This unusual gemstone is made up of hydrated silica. Hydrated silica is silicon dioxide that has water molecules trapped in its structure. It is considered a semi-precious stone and has been used in jewellery for centuries. Opals can be found in various colours, but the most common are white or milky white.


Some other opal colours include:

  • Black opal: the most valuable type of opal, it is a dark stone with colourful flashes of light

  • Fire opal: a red, orange or yellow opal with striking light beans running through it 

  • Boulder opal: an opal that is found attached to a piece of ironstone

They were popularised and used in jewellery when Queen Victoria wore an opal and diamond brooch in 1851. The stone became very sought after due to Queen Victoria's love for this striking semi-precious stone and was often used in Victorian jewellery.

MOST OPALS ARE MINED IN AUSTRALIA  


Opals come from around the world, but most commercially mined opals are found in Australia. 


So might be of little surprise to discover that the finest opal is said to be from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia.


Other countries that produce opals include Ethiopia, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala and the United States.


Today opals are still a popular choice for jewellery, but as with any stone set in gold or silver, they require a bit of care to keep them looking their best.

Opal Mining in Australia - Gear Jewellers

HOW DO I CLEAN MY OPAL JEWELLERY?  

 

Anyone considering how to care for opal jewellery might be wondering whether it can be cleaned at home and, if so, the best way to keep it beautifully catching the light and looking its best. Opals should only be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth. 


Avoid using any harsh chemicals or detergents as these can damage the opal. However, if your opal jewellery looks dull, you can try polishing it with a soft cloth and mild soap. Just be sure to rinse the soap completely before popping your jewellery back on again.

“Avoid using any harsh chemicals or detergents as these can damage the opal.”

HOW DO I STORE OPAL JEWELLERY? 


When you’re not wearing your opal jewellery, it’s best to store it in a soft, dry place.


A jewellery box or pouch is ideal. However, avoid storing opal jewellery in direct sunlight, which can cause the colours to fade.


It’s also a good idea to keep opal jewellery away from other hard gemstones, as these can scratch the opal's surface.


HOW DO I STORE OPAL JEWELLERY? - Gear Jewellers

WHY DO OPALS SOMETIMES TURN BROWN?

 

One of the common questions we get asked is "why has my opal gone brown?" or "why has my opal changed colour?".

The short answer is that opals are made up of tiny silica spheres. These spheres diffract and refract light to create opals' unique iridescence.

When opals are exposed to water, the spheres can swell and change shape, causing the opal to lose its lustre and milky quality.



IF MY OPAL TURNS BROWN, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

  • First, use a soft cloth to wipe away any dirt or debris on the opal's surface. 

  • Next, hold the opal under running water and gently brush it with a soft toothbrush. 

  • Finally, allow the opal to air dry completely. If the discolouration persists, you can try soaking the opal in a solution of one part water and one part white vinegar. 

After taking these steps, your opal should return to its original colour and beauty!


CAN YOU SHOWER WEARING OPAL JEWELLERY?


If you own a delicate pair of opal and gold earrings or any other kind of luxury opal jewellery, you might consider wearing it when you are in the bath or shower.


However, for anyone wondering how to care for opal jewellery, it’s worth knowing that water may cause metals in jewellery to tarnish. As we spoke about earlier, opals specifically can absorb water. 


This means that showering or bathing in them may spoil the stone and their beauty. Therefore, we recommend taking off your opal jewellery whenever you shower or bathe to keep them looking their best.

“showering or bathing in them may spoil the stone and their beauty.”

IS IT OK TO WEAR OPAL JEWELLERY EVERY DAY?   


Many jewellery owners wonder if it’s ok to wear luxury jewellery, including opals, every day.


Anyone with beautiful opal jewellery, such as stunning diamond and opal engagement rings, may want to show off their ring all the time! This is usually a question of personal preference, but if you take care when wearing your jewellery, it's ok to wear it daily. 


However, to keep your opal looking its best, follow our care tips to keep it looking milky white and beautiful. 


IS IT OK TO WEAR OPAL JEWELLERY EVERY DAY?  - Gear Jewellers

OTHER TIPS FOR CARING FOR OPAL JEWELLERY   

 

Like any other type of jewellery, taking off your opal jewellery is essential before doing any strenuous activity. This includes things like gardening, going for a run, or doing household chores.


It’s also a good idea to take off opal jewellery before getting in the pool or hot tub. The chemicals and water can damage opals.


TO FINISH ON…


So we hope our skilled jewellers here in Dublin have given you lots of ideas to keep your dreamy opal jewellery looking as beautiful as the day you bought it.


Before you go, don’t forget to browse our store for a stunning selection of beautiful opal jewellery, glittering luxury diamond engagement rings, and other gemstone jewellery. For a luxury VIP experience, make an appointment to visit our store.




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