Should I keep my Ethiopian opal in water?

Answered by Willie Powers

Keeping your Ethiopian opal in water is not recommended as it can potentially damage the stone. Opals are a delicate gemstone and can be sensitive to water and other liquids. While a brief exposure to water may not cause immediate harm, prolonged exposure can lead to changes in the stone’s color and transparency.

Opals are composed of silica spheres that are arranged in a regular pattern, which gives them their unique play of colors. When water enters the opal, it can disrupt this arrangement and temporarily alter the stone’s appearance. The water can fill in the gaps between the silica spheres, causing a loss of transparency and a dulling of the colors. This effect is often referred to as “crazing.”

However, it’s important to note that this temporary alteration is generally reversible. As the opal dries out over a few days, it will gradually return to its original color and transparency. So, if your opal accidentally gets wet, there’s no need to panic. Just make sure to gently dry it and allow it to air dry completely.

To clean your Ethiopian opal, it’s best to use a soft, damp cloth rather than submerging it in water. Gently wipe the surface of the opal to remove any dirt or oils. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as they can damage the stone. If necessary, you can use a mild soap or detergent diluted in water, but make sure to rinse it off thoroughly and dry the opal afterwards.

In addition to water, it’s important to protect your opal from extreme temperature changes, as rapid expansions and contractions can also cause it to crack or craze. Avoid exposing your opal to high heat or sudden temperature changes, such as hot water or direct sunlight.

While it’s best to avoid exposing your Ethiopian opal to water, if it does get wet, it will temporarily alter its appearance but should return to its original color and transparency as it dries over a few days. To clean your opal, use a damp cloth and avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials. Taking proper care of your opal will help preserve its beauty and ensure its longevity.