How To Care For Opals?

Opals are valuable gems that can last a lifetime and be passed down if well taken care of. Follow these tips to maintain your opals’ luster & pristine condition.


Opal Types 

Know the type of opal you own to properly care for it.

  • Opal Doublet: these opals have 2 layers, a backing of potch (the ore in which opals are found) or black onyx, a black fixative & a thin layer of opal. These are sometimes confused with boulder opals in which the thin vein of opal & the potch backing were mined as a unit.
  •  Opal Triplet: these opals have 3 layers, the third generally of rock crystal quartz in finer material. The layer of opal is extremely thin compared to that of doublets. The clear dome enhances the color of the opal and protects it from abrasion.
  • Precious Opal: these opals, especially thin cabochons & tablets are sometimes more fragile being all opal with no protective back or top, .
  • Ethiopian opal: a recently discovered form of precious opal, often very beautiful but with a higher water content & potentially even more fragile & susceptible to rapid temperature or humidity changes

How To Clean Opal Jewelry                     

Whenever feasible, take your jewelry to an experienced jeweler who will generally do an excellent job & minimize risk to an opal or any other gem. In addition, have the condition of the jewelry item checked to make sure it is protecting your gems.

If cleaning your opals yourself, buy a gentle jewelry cleaner from a knowledgeable jeweler, or mix a mild non abrasive detergent in lukewarm water to make your cleaning solution. Do not use chemicals, bleaching agents, or ultrasonic cleaners when cleaning any opal.

  • For a solid opal, swish it in the solution for a few seconds, then wipe it with a clean  soft  non-abrasive cloth.
  • Do not immerse doublets or triplets. Water may loosen the glue joining the pieces. Wet your cleaning cloth in the solution & gently clean your opals with it .
  • It is ok to use a soft toothbrush with the cleaning solution to clean the jewelry holding the opal, but do not use the toothbrush on the opals themselves.

How To Care For Opal

  • Avoid wearing your jewelry when working out, gardening, baking, painting, putting on hand lotion or using chemicals or abrasives.
  • Avoid exposing your doublets or triplets to liquids especially solvents, which over time may loosen the glue.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes when wearing opals, such as warming your hands by the fire after being outside in the cold, or putting something from the freezer into a preheated oven.

How To Store Opal Jewelry

  • If you store all your jewelry pieces together, wrap the opals separately & put them in a ziploc bag to keep dust off & avoid scratching them.  Be sure the jewelry is completely dry & there is no moisture in the bag before sealing it. Make sure temperature & humidity are controlled & relatively constant – off site storage units, garages, attics basements, bank safety deposit boxes may not meet this criteria.

Following these tips will ensure your precious gems maintain their shimmer for a very long time. For tips and advice on how to care for your opals, talk to us Argo & Lehne – we are glad to answer any question you may have.