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Care of Jewellery: Opals

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Retaining the fire in your opals.

Opal is softer than most popular gemstones, so it does need a little extra thought and care.

1. Avoid all ultrasonic cleaners and steamers, bleach, chemicals and other jewellery cleaners. You can, however, safely wash solid opal in plain warm water or soapy water. But no detergent.

The above procedure should not be used if your opal is a doublet or triple. The glue that holds the layers together reacts to exposure to water, dulling the appearance as the layers separate.

2. Store each piece of your opal jewellery in its own padded cloth bag. Opals should not be exposed to high heat, direct sun, bright or hot lights, low humidity bank vaults and other similar temperature extremes.

3. It is a myth that storing an opal in water or oiling it will heal existing cracks. Oil will actually discolour your opal.