Can You Shower With Opal Jewelry

Can You Shower With Opal Jewelry

Opal is widely known around the world for its wide range of color and lively fire. Yet so many questions linger about appropriate care to keep the fiery gemstone looking its best. Perhaps the most frequent question we get is: Can you wear opal in the shower? So we’re addressing that — along with some other opal care tips - to help you keep your opal jewelry looking its finest.


Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should. Sure - you could shower with your opal jewelry on, but we do not recommend it. While *water alone isn’t problematic for opals* there may be other things in the water (ie: chemicals) that can be damaging to the stone, as well as ingredients in the cleaning products you use (ie: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc…) that could prove hazardous to some precious gems.

Additionally, there is always a risk that your jewelry falls off. We see no reason to risk losing your opal necklace, ring or other special treasure down the drain — when simply taking it off beforehand keeps it safe.


So you might wonder about swimming with your opal jewelry on. We offer the same advice. For the same reasons. Take it off before you take the plunge. Don’t unnecessarily expose your opal jewelry to chemical agents (like chlorine) or loss.

Chlorinated Pool - unsafe for Opal Jewelry


Did you notice the asterisked section above when we said that *water alone isn’t problematic for opals*? That wasn’t an oversight. All Opals are not made equal. And different opal stones have different tolerances.


If you’ve ever attended a gem show or shopped for loose gemstones, you may have seen rough Australian Boulder Opal soaking in bins of water. This is done to enhance the color of the precious opal within the stone…but not in the deceptive way that might sound! Rough opal doesn’t show it’s full color potential until after it’s been cut and polished, making it hard to see what a piece of rough has to offer. By submerging the piece of rough in water, its colors become more fully exposed for buyers to see its possibility. These Australian Boulder Opals — sedimentary stones — are in no way harmed by soaking in bins of water.

Vibrant Boulder Opal Colors


Ethiopian Opals on the other hand, are a type of opal we do not recommend getting wet. Unlike Australian Opals, they are volcanic in origin and are hydrophane (hydrophillic or water-loving) and will readily absorb water. While this is a known fact about them, the real dispute is regarding what happens after.

Most Ethiopian Opal vendors will explain that if your opal gets wet, you should let it dry out completely. Drying times may vary, but to be fair, this could take up to 2 weeks. They are not wrong in distributing this advice. However, in our experience with this beautiful stone, after drying out, the fire does not always return to the opal. Not only that, but sometimes we’ve found that an Ethiopian Opal that started with a beautiful white base will change to a different color altogether after drying — often rusty orange.

As a side note, it doesn’t appear to be exclusively water that can change the appearance of Ethiopian Opals. We’ve seen it happen without water exposure as well. While we don’t have scientific proof of the cause, our best guess is that it’s either oils from the skin of the wearer seeping into the more porous type of opal, or perhaps some other chemical agent (like lotion or perfume). Either way, we’ve seen Ethiopian Opals that have not been exposed to water also turn.

Ethiopian Opals are gorgeous and often less expensive than Australian Opals, however, it’s precisely due to our experience with them  that we lean heavily into Australian Opal for our opal jewelry. That said, if you elect to purchase an Ethiopian Opal, we highly recommend keeping it out of water to mitigate risk of turning.

Ethiopian Opals


If you are wearing an Australian Opal Ring, there’s no harm in exposing it to a little warm water and mild dish soap when washing your hands. But if you have any doubts, or are unsure if the soap is safe for your stone, it never hurts to remove your opal ring while washing. Just be sure to set it safely aside (secure from the drain), and remember to put it back on afterward.


You first came here to find out if you could leave your opal jewelry on when showering or not. But we don’t know your reason for asking. Is it out of a desire for the convenience of leaving it on or because you’d like to keep it clean?

If you answered convenience, then you learned that we do recommend the extra step or removing it before showering. But remember, this keeps your opal jewelry safe and in its best condition.
  • PRO TIP: Nicki keeps a beautiful marble container just outside the shower, to put all of her fine jewelry in.
    If your intention was to keep your opal jewelry clean, showering with it on is unlikely to accomplish that. It’s more likely to
    NIXIN Jewelry Cleaner
    NIXIN Jewelry Cleaner - Foam at Home
    NIXIN Jewelry Cleaning PenNIXIN Jewelry Cleaner - Jewelry Cleaning Pen

    Properly cared for, opal jewelry can last a lifetime. Come explore our Collection and find the piece of your dreams.

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.