Care of Opal

Opals are precious gems and should be treated with care. To clean opal, gently rub it using a soft jewelers cloth. When required, solid opal can be cleaned in tepid soapy water. Avoid immersing opal doublets and triplets into water.


I have heard opals must not get wet. Is this true?

False. Opals are made up of hydrated silica – that is water molecules. Exposing your solid opal to moisture is absolutely fine and they can be washed in tepid (blood warm) water. As with other precious gems exposure to water is not the issue – it is the dishwashing detergent and other chemicals that may be in the water that may damage your opal. It is always best to take your opals off before handling food or other chemicals.

What about doublets and triplets – can they get wet?

Doublets and triplets are opals that are bonded to a darker host material – either glass, plastic or common opal potch. They are usually bonded with a glue. Prolonged or repeated exposure to water may soften the glue and delaminate the opal – creating a cloudy appearance with is almost impossible to reverse. To be safe avoid water when wearing doublet or triplet opal.

How do I store my opals?

As opal is a soft stone it is best to store gems separately from each other in a hard case of softer material like velvet or felt or silk. This will reduce the chances of scratches appearing on the surface of the stone. If you live in a humid environment, your opals should absorb enough moisture from the air. Like pearls it also helps to wear them! If you live in a very dry environment, or one with prolonged exposure to artificial heat you may want to keep a glass of water close by to where you store your opal.

Can I clean my opal jewelery in an ultrasonic?

The high vibrations of an ultrasonic can damage some types of opal. Solid Australian Opal form Lightning Ridge is fine but you need to be careful with bolder opal from Queensland. Watch our video for more details of care of opal