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Hand polishing an opal: Can it really be done?

Is it easy to do and how long does it take? Justin shows you how to hand polish an opal..

Recently I bought to you Steiner Florians’s story about hand polishing opal.

You asked the questions and Steiner was on hand to reply. How long does it actually take and can it really be that easy to do?

Watch this video as I try the  “The Steiner Technique” on hand-polishing an opal.

In order to complete this  ‘little exercise’  you will need.

  • Knife sharpening block
  • Sandpaper wet & dry 400 Grit to 1200 Grit
  • Towel
  • Dop Stick
  • Jewellers Wax
  • Strip of leather
  • Cerium Oxide which is available from our website.
  • Spray bottle with water

Watch this video as Justin gives hand-polishing a go. He shows you at the start of the video what he is going to polish. In an easy to view format he easily explains what to do…”his handy hint is ‘don’t push too hard on the stone as you can easily chip the stone”and after 2.5 hours he shows you the end result… a lovely polished opal!

Yes it really is that easy

Yes it does take a bit of time

Take a look at the video..give it a go and let us know how you go..




  • Stephen

    Hi Justin, the first opals I polished years ago were done like this. It does work!

    • Blackopaldirect

      HI Stephen Yes it is a great way to cut an opal without the expense of machines.

  • abi

    I’d love to give it a go, as an apprentice jeweller im a dab hand with the wet n dry, but no idea it could look/ be that simple a process. Now to buy an inexpensive rough in case I trash it, lol.

    • Blackopaldirect

      HI Abi you should give it a go. Only experience will make you better at it. 🙂

  • Caz Lane

    I have done a LOT of hand polishing of opals over the years-it certainly makes you appreciate your cutting equipment but yes it can be done with lots of patience 🙂

    • Blackopaldirect

      Yes and Caz you are a natural at cutting opal

  • William Carbury

    justin i followed your vid on you tube on hand polishing i noticed you op out of wearing goggles or protective glasses let me tell you if cerium oxide gets in your eyes it hurts believe me and i had a sore eye for for over a week so i think people need to be put in the picture about that william glitterboy2000

    • Blackopaldirect

      Wow that is not good. I have not had cerium in my eyes and have been cutting opals for the last 25 years. I hope it never happens.

      • Casey

        You need to see a Doctor. Cerium Oxide is carcinogenic, you need to be checked. I hope you used a mask.

  • William Carbury

    HI JUSTIN i canot find robing stick any ware in the uk by the way thank you for your videos they are brilliant for a novice like my self I’ve ordered some rough opal on ebay so I’m looking forward to stating my new hobby now can i buy dobb sticks through you as ill be ordering your green wax because i cannot get that here to also wat kind of leather would you suggest to use please let me know best regards william glitter boy stay fabuloussss

    • Blackopaldirect

      Good stuff William sorry glitterboy 🙂 I am here for you if you need any help.

      • William carbury

        thanks Justin thats good to know so far i haven’t been able to find dob sticks can you tel me if your selling them on your sight or can you please hook me up with a link thanks justin stay fabbbbulous always glitterboy2000

    • Blackopaldirect

      You don’t need to buy any just go to the hardware store and buy some Dal wood. Rounded wood you can cut into small pieces for dop sticks

  • Mark BigTed Harrison

    Howdy will this technique work with opal matrix. I have a piece that has been treated just needs to be polished . Cheers

    • Blackopaldirect

      HI Big Ted I am not totally sure whether you will get a high enough polish on the matrix opal but I’m sure it would come close

    • mariano garcia

      Ho Ted, i have a opal Matriz And I also want to know how to polish, you have learned?