Cleaning Opal Jewellery
Unsure of the best way to clean opals at home? It’s easy once you know how! Check out our guide on cleaning opal jewellery…
Cleaning opal jewellery can be pretty daunting if you are unsure of what kind of opal your jewellery is set with. Opal jewellery can either be solid opal, doubles or triples which we will get into in just a second. But first just a little bit more info on opals themselves.
Opals are a hydrated amorphous form of silica. The opals you find in jewellery can have a water content of between 6% to 10% as these opals are considered gem grade. With a rating on the Mohs scale of just 5.5-6.5, you can see how delicate the beautifully unique gemstones are. The allure of opals is magnified by the fact that no two opals are the same.
So now how to clean opal jewellery. Before cleaning opals it’s important to know whether your opal is a solid opal, a doublet or a triplet.
Solid opal is an opal which has only been cut and polished, indicating that the jewellery features a solid piece of opal stone.
Doublet opal is a thin layer of opal, almost shell-like, which is most often glued onto a black backing. These types of opal have 2 layers, hence the name doublet.
Triplet opals are similar to doublet opals but they have a thin transparent layer on top of the opal to offer protection. This layer is usually made out of glass or another transparent precious stone.
Cleaning Solid Opal Jewellery
Solid natural opals, despite popular theory, are perfectly safe to get wet as they only have around 6-10% water content. You can clean opal jewellery with a small drop of mild washing up liquid in room temperature water. We say room temperature water as opals are especially sensitive to drastic temperature changes and may crack or get damaged.
It’s also important to note that if your solid opal jewellery is not set with a prong setting, then there is a chance that it is set with glue. If this is the case then submerging the jewellery in any kind of liquid is not recommended and it should be treated the same way as you would a triplet or doublet.
Due to the fact that opals are highly sensitive to temperature changes, we prefer to use a delicate jewellery cleaner like Connoisseurs Delicate Jewellery Cleaner as it is also safe for use with any metal the opal is set in. Otherwise we recommend using room temperature water with a mild washing up liquid to avoid exposing the opal to any temperature changes which may crack or damage the opal as mentioned before.
Using Connoisseurs Delicate Jewellery Cleaner
- Unscrew the lid and remove the seal.
- Place one piece of jewellery into the dip tray.
- Submerge the jewellery in the solution and let it soak for no longer than 10 seconds.
- Remove the dip tray and rinse the jewellery under room temperature water to remove residue
- Use a soft brush to clean any hard to reach areas
- Gently dab the jewellery dry using a soft, lint free cloth
- Give your jewellery a polish using a polishing cloth to bring out its shine. (Connoisseurs Ultrasoft Gold or Silver Polishing Cloths are ideal as they leave an anti tarnish layer)
Mild Washing Up Liquid & Room Temperature Water
If you do not have access to the Connoisseurs Delicate Jewellery Cleaner then it is perfectly fine to use room temperature water with a tiny drop of mild washing up liquid. It is important though to avoid any rapid temperature changes with opals though as they might crack and get damaged.
If your opal jewellery is not set with prongs then it may be set with a glue. If this is the case then we recommend just wetting a cloth with the jewellery cleaner solution or water and cleaning your jewellery this way instead of submerging it in the solution. Basically just treat it the same way you would a doublet or triplet.
- Fill a bowl with room temperature water and a small drop of mild washing up liquid.
- Lightly wet a soft cloth & carefully wipe your jewellery to get off any dirt or stains.
- Dab your jewellery dry gently with a soft, lint free cloth making sure the jewellery is fully dried before storing.
- Polish the metal on your jewellery with a polishing cloth. (Connoisseurs Ultrasoft Gold or Silver Polishing Cloths are ideal for this)
Cleaning Doublet & Triplet Opal Jewellery
Doublet & Triplet opals require a touch more care than solid opals. Prolonged exposure to water may mean water getting in between the layers of the doublet or triplet which will ruin its look. To clean doublet & triplet opal jewellery we recommend lightly damping a soft lint free cloth with the mild washing up liquid mix or the delicate jewellery cleaner and gently wiping the jewellery clean as described in the previous section. Another great method of cleaning opal jewellery is using a jewellery wipe like Connoisseurs Jewellery Wipes.
Using Connoisseurs Jewellery Wipes
- Remove 1 dry wipe from the case.
- Rub your jewellery gently with the wipe to remove dirt and tarnish
- You may get some residue on your fingers and jewellery if you rub for too long, this is not dirt and can be removed with a damp soft cloth. Wash hands with soap and water.
- These wipes will not dry out, they can be reused until they are no longer effective.
Cleaning Lab Created Opal Jewellery
Lab created opals have the same structure, chemical and physical properties as natural opals as they are grown in a similar process to in nature, just in a lab. They generally can be cleaned and treated exactly the same as natural opals.
A lab created opal used in jewellery can also be a doublet or a triplet so it is important to keep an eye on the structure of the lab created opal used in your jewellery to double check which type has been used before cleaning. If you’re unsure of the structure, a professional jeweller or gemologist should be able to tell you.
Stay Away From:
PLEASE NEVER USE BLEACH OR HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS ON YOUR OPAL JEWELLERY. These types of cleaners are a surefire way to ruin your jewellery in no time and should be avoided at all costs.
Toothpaste is another novel cleaning method we recommend staying clear of as the chemicals inside can strip away the metals of your jewellery over time and leave it looking dull.
It is not recommended to use any kind of ultra sonic cleaner on your opal jewellery as the heat and chemicals may have a negative effect on them over time.