A gemstone rich with legends and history, opal encompasses the beauty of all the gems and fascinates with its interpenetrating colors. The Australian aborigines are of the belief that their ancestral being Dreamtime came down to earth on a rainbow and the pebbles around him turned into the first opals. It is said that the flashes of colors on opals reflect the changing moods and emotions of the wearer. Well, the color-play of opals is surely a unique phenomenon and breathtaking, which is why they have been coveted by the rich, the royals, gemstone collectors, mystics and healers. Opals have earned the reputation of being a ‘symbol of hope’ and ‘the stone of lovers and artists’. They look luxurious when used in fine jewelry and can be treasured for years. But adequate care is required to ensure that the striking colors and luster remains intact. Here’s how you can show your love for your opal jewelry and cherish them forever:
- The hardness of opals varies from 5.5 to 6.5 Mohs, which makes them a soft gemstone. You can put them away while working in rigorous conditions or while handling harsh chemicals. This way you can avoid scratches and cracks from developing on these colorful beauties.
- Opals are delicate gemstones and have about 20% to 30% of water trapped in them. Intense heat and light can cause ‘crazing’ or fracture lines on them. They are sensitive to extreme and sudden changes in temperatures. Also, when you store your opals, keep them wrapped in a damp cloth or with a wet piece of cotton to avoid dehydration.
- It is best to wear your opals more often if you want them to be looking beautiful for years to come. Exposing opals to the humidity in the air and the moisture in your body will keep them hydrated and preserve the stunning colors within.
- You can choose opal earrings and pendants to wear daily and keep opal rings for occasions. A bezel setting will be more suitable for an opal ring if you are going to wear it every day.
- Cleaning opal jewelry is recommended every four to five months and you can do it at the convenience of your home. You can use a mild detergent and warm water to loosen out the accumulated dirt and clean the jewelry with a soft brush or a cloth. However, avoid using the brush on the surface of the gemstone.
- Avoid the use of bleach, harsh cleaning solutions and chemicals on opals. They cannot withstand caustic alkaline solutions and hydrofluoric acid. Also, you will end up damaging opals if you clean them in an ultrasonic cleaner. Occasionally, you can take your opal jewelry to a professional jeweler for re-polishing so as to maintain its luster.
With these simple tips for cleaning and maintenance, you can increase the lifespan of your opal jewelry. Opal accessories are unique pieces in your collection and with that extra thought and care, they can look new as ever.