Opal jewellery is made of silica spheres; while beautiful, these spheres are very delicate. Therefore, it is important to clean the jewellery with proper care to avoid scratching or cracking the opal. Consider cleaning the opal jewellery, especially opal rings, once every couple of months to prevent the build-up of bodily oils and dirt.
Determine Opal Type
Different types of opals require different cleaning methods; in fact, doublet and triplet opals require slightly different cleaning techniques than pure opals. To determine opal type, examine the opal from its side. At an angle, you can tell if it is solid or composed of layers. Doublet opals have two layers of opal glued together, while triplets have two layers of opal with a layer of clear quartz on top. Still, solid opals do not have any type of backing.
Cleaning Pure Opal Jewellery
To begin the cleaning process, place half a cup of warm water into a small bowl and add two to three drops of mild, unscented dish soap to create a lather. Never use hot water or extremely cold water on the opal jewellery, as temperature change can crack the stone. You can place pure opals directly into the cleaning solution for a few seconds. To remove surface dirt, scrub the jewellery, including the opal itself, with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should then carefully rinse the jewellery under warm running water, and thoroughly dry it with a microfibre polishing cloth. Alternatively, you can use facial tissue or a piece of silk to dry the jewellery. Make sure that no water remains on the surface of the opal, as water can be damaging to these gems. If other stones, besides opal, are present, be sure to clean them appropriately and avoid the surface of the opal itself.
Doublet and Triplet Opal Jewellery
Carefully clean doublet and triplet opals with a microfibre jewellery cloth dampened with soap and water; immersing these types in water can weaken the glue and cause it to deteriorate. Prolonged water exposure can also cause the opal to take on a foggy or grey appearance. Once clean, use a separate microfibre cloth dampened with warm water to remove the solution. No matter the type of opal jewellery, never place it in an ultrasonic cleaner, as the vibrations can crack the stone. Similarly, avoid using traditional cleaning solutions, including chemicals, abrasives, and toothpaste on the jewellery, as they can cause permanent damage to the opal.