- Wear it often it likes
to breathe. Touch it often. It likes contact with the skin. the natural oils
in your skin keeps the opal "moist" and lustrous. (Contrary to popular
belief, true Australian opal is not porous and will not absorb contamination
in perspiration or other bodily moisture.)
- Do not wash dishes, clothes
or other items with it on. Opals contain water. The harsh detergents in dish
or laundry soaps can "dry" out the stone.
- Do not wear opals in
any type of hot tub, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, sauna, steam room, bath tub or
shower. Exposure to prelong submersion in any water with or without detergents
or chemicals will destroy opals.
- Do not garden with it
on. continuous contact with the soil can abrade the surface of your stone.
- Do not clean your opal
jewelry with ultrasonic device. Use plain water and a good, nonabrasive had
or facial soap.
- Do Not store your opal
in oil or glycerin.
- Opal is a "living"
stone, which means it must be protected from heat and detergents that "dry"
- Opals develop crazing
if they are allowed to dry out.
- Heat treatment is catastrophic!!
- In addition to cracking,
loss of water causes loss of iridescence.
Working with gem-quality
Care must be taken when
polishing and setting opals. Despite their hardness, they are prone to crazing
and cracking, and loss of water content causes a noticeable loss of iridescence.
To prevent this, opals are normally stored in moist cotton wool or cloth until
it is time to work with them. Sometimes, an opal that has lost its opalescence
may be "rejuvenated" by rehydrating the stone with water or special
oils, but this may only temporarily improve the stone's appearance.
In the opal cutting process the potch (a kind of mineral crust) is ground away
from the presentation areas of the gem opal. This process unlike diamond mining,
where the blueground (Kimberlite) is crushed away from the diamond crystals.
Individual opals are "dopped" -affixed to the ends of wooden dowels
about the size of old fashioned wooden clothespins, usually with dopping wax,
which resembles sealing wax.
Grinding and polishing of opals is done under a cold water drip to prevent the
stones from overheating and cracking. A series of grits is used, from coarsest
to finest, to produce the desired finely polished surface that reveals the full
play of color in the opal.
Most gem opals are ground to a highly polished convex oval shape called a "cabochon."