Opals are beautiful and unique gems, and should be properly cleaned and cared for to bring out their beauty to its fullest potential. By following a few simple tips, you will be able to make your opals sparkle while prolonging their life span.
Cleaning Different Forms of Opal
The method of cleaning opal jewelry depends on the form of the opal. Some opals are just a single piece, while others are two or three layers of opal glued together. You should be able to determine whether you have a single opal, a doublet opal, or a triplet opal just by looking at it.
You can make the cleaning solution by mixing unscented detergent with ½ cup of lukewarm water. If you have a solid opal, you can swish it around in the water for a few seconds and then wipe it clean with a microfiber cleaning cloth. If you have a doublet opal or triplet opal, do not immerse it in the solution or the water may loosen the glue and separate the pieces. Instead, put a small amount of solution on the microfiber cloth and gently clean the opal with it.
Generally, opal jewelry should be cleaned every couple of months. This way, it will not accumulate too much dirt, and the cleaning process will be easier.
Cleaning Surrounding Metals and Gemstones
Some opal jewelry contains diamond chips or other gems that will also need cleaning. The metal the opal is set in will need cleaning as well. A toothbrush may be used with the same cleaning solution to make the metals and gemstones sparkle, but avoid using the toothbrush on the opal itself.
Storing the Gem
Avoid storing opal jewelry in any location that can dramatically change temperature, and keep your piece of jewelry away from dry areas. If that isn’t possible, wrap it in a cloth sprinkled with a few drops of water, and put it in a plastic bag. If the air is normal, you can store it alone. If you want to store your opals with other jewelry, you can wrap them in fabric to avoid scratches.
Precautions While Wearing
Opals are made of sand and water. Most opals have approximately 2-10% water content, and if they dry out, they can crack. They can also crack when they’re exposed to any extreme temperature change. Be careful when you step out from a heated area into extremely cold temperatures and vice versa. Avoid prolonged exposure to heat, and do not let the jewelry come in contact with very hot or cold water.
Also, remove the jewelry if you need to use soap or lotion in an area where the jewelry lies. This can cause a buildup on the ring and dull its shine, and will force you to clean it much more often.
Wearing your opal jewelry often will help it to look its best. Since opals have a certain degree of water content, constantly wearing them and exposing them to the humidity in the air and in the skin is good for the gems. It will prevent the opals from drying out and preserve their beautiful colors within.
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