What is Opal Gemstone? Healing Properties Meaning and Health Benefits. Opal gems are delicate gemstones and require a little extra care compared to other gemstones, but the exclusivity of opals are well worth the attention.
Because opals are more delicate than other gems, Mohr hardness of 5.5 to 6, opals are easily scratched or break by other stones and hard objects. Like all gemstones, opals should be kept in a soft cloth bag away from harder substances like other jewelry.
OPAL GEMSTONE PROPERTIES
Since opals can contain 20% water, considered a “living stone,” opals may become brittle due to water loss. When opals lose water, the gemstone will fracture internally, known as crazing, and the play of color of the gem will diminish greatly.
For this reason, it is important to avoid high heat, direct sunlight for long periods, desert conditions, slight humidity bank vaults or airtight containers, and most importantly rapid, rapid variations in hotness as this may cause the opal to craze.
For example, moving from a warm house out into the freezing, snow-covered backyard will cause the opal to craze. If in a very dry climate or dehumidified room, keeping opals in a tight plastic bag with a damp piece of cotton or any other fabric will minimize dehydration.
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On the other hand, because opal gems contain some water, opal jewelry should often be worn as possible because opals, being porous, will absorb the needed humidity from the air and the skin of its wearer.
However, remove any opal jewelry, especially rings, when exercising, playing sports, and gardening as to avoid scraping and damaging the opal. Do not wash dishes and shower with opals as well because the sudden temperature change can cause the opal to craze.
To further help keep moisture and prolong the dazzling beauty of the gem, soaking the opal in water for a few hours with specific intervals will protect the opal from crazing. Do not use oil, soaking or wiping, on the opal as oil can potentially damage the opal by causing the opal to lose its prized fire over time.
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Cleaning Opal Gemstone
Opal gemstones can be simply cleaned with plain warm water or soapy water with a facial tissue or piece of silk. Be mindful that dust, which may contain quartz with a hardness of 7, can slowly reduce the polish by simply wiping off the dust.
Clean doublets and triplets the same way but do not soak them. Do not use ultrasonic and steam cleaning methods, as those methods may be too harsh for opals.
Doublet & Triplet Opals
Doublet and triplet opals should not be exposed to extended periods of bathing or swimming because it is difficult to predict how the glue will react under such conditions. This includes washing dishes as the detergent can weaken the glue.