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Opals & Gemstones

How Do You Properly Care for Opal?

Many people are drawn to the mystical flash of color for which opal rings are so well-known. They’re deliciously complex, yet surprisingly neutral which makes them the perfect companion for many other gemstones.

Australian opal has become more popular and has increased in value over the past decade. In fact, it is one of the most popular colored gemstones today.

Striations of Love Pipe Opal and Diamond Gold Ring by NIXIN
Striations of Love Pipe Opal and Diamond Gold Ring by NIXIN

Whether you own a solid opal, doublet, or triplet, or are ready to shop for one, it’s important to learn how to take care of them so you can enjoy them for years to come. Opals are softer and more porous than other gems, but they can last a lifetime with the proper opal care and attention. 

Solid opal care guidelines

Opal is approximately the same hardness as glass, so it is important to treat it carefully to avoid damaging it. Here are a few important opal care do’s and don’ts:

Do

  • Gently clean your solid opal jewelry with mild detergent, warm water, and a soft toothbrush or cloth.
  • Remove your opal rings before applying any product; particularly those that may contain acid or alcohol (hair products, perfumes, hand sanitizers, lotions, etc.)
  • Visit an experienced opal cutter if you have an opal that has become dull or scratched. They will be able to properly polish and restore your precious gemstone.
  • Store your opal jewelry in a padded cloth bag when you aren’t wearing it. If you have individual jewelry boxes for your pieces, place it inside for added protection. For longer storage periods, place it in a cotton or wool cloth with a few drops of water and then put it into a sealed plastic bag. This will help prevent water from coming out of the stone.
  • Follow a “last on, first off” rule to keep your opal rings vibrant for years to come. Opal should be the last thing you put on before an event or occasion and the first thing you take off and store appropriately when you return home.
Images by Ian Dooley, Superkitina
Images by Ian Dooley, Superkitina

Don’t

  • Wear your opal ring if there is any chance it could get scratched, damaged or broken. (Avoid wearing opal jewelry while exercising, working in the garden, doing the dishes, bathing, moving furniture, etc.)
  • Fully immerse your doublet or triplet opal rings, earrings, or necklaces in water. This will help keep these precious gemstones healthy and vibrant.
  • Leave your opal in a place where it could be subject to very high temperatures or low humidity (e.g., boiling water or zero humidity bank vaults).
  • Use bleach, chemicals, or other harsh cleansers (including ultrasonic cleaners).

Opal doublet and triplet care guidelines

Opal care for doublets or triplets is a bit different from caring for solid opals. Opal doublets and triplets consist of multiple layers glued together. For this reason, prolonged exposure to water will eventually cause lifting between the layers allowing water to seep in. If this happens, your doublet or triplet will take on a ‘foggy’ or grey appearance and will likely result in permanent damage. Do not immerse your doublet or triplet opals in water for any significant length of time.

If you’re looking for an iconic ring or statement piece to help tell a swoon-worthy engagement story, celebrate a loved one, or simply to treat yourself, visit our shop and explore our extraordinary selection of opal rings for women.

Nicki, Founder and Designer of NIXIN Jewelry, selects one of a kind opal gemstones that deeply resonate with her and meticulously transforms them into spellbinding visuals meant for someone special. Come find the piece that’s meant for you.

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How Is Opal Formed?

Have you ever wondered about the science behind the splendor? How those incredible shifting rainbows are created inside of stone? Opals are formed from a mineral known as silica, specifically hydrated amorphous silica. Silica is a common mineral found in soil, sand, granite, concrete, rock, and many other natural materials. Hydrated amorphous silica simply means that opal has a high water content.

Opal is found in many places like Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, and the Western US, however Australia produces 95% of the world’s precious opal. NIXIN Jewelry sources nearly all of our precious opal from Australia, working with material like boulder opal from Winton, Queensland to crystal opal from famed Lightning Ridge and from Coober Pedy, the Opal Capital of the World.

How does opal form?

Opal is found deep in the Earth’s crust near faults, cracks, or fissures. It is believed that around 30 million years ago a large amount of silica was released and filled in these cracks. In fact, fossil evidence suggests that Australia used to be under the ocean. Some of those fossils were replaced by silica and formed what we call Shell Opal and Opalized Belemnites (ancient squid-like creatures).

Image of opalized belemnite
Opalized Belemnite, Photo by James St. John

Like ocean water, rainwater also contains small amounts of silica (among other minerals) and collects more as it falls onto soil, sand, granite, and concrete. Over time the silica, which has a spherical chemical structure, settles into perfectly stacked spheres along these fissures. This symmetrical, three-dimensional array creates diffraction and interference, which is what produces the brilliant opal colors we all know and love. The range of colors depends on the size of the silica spheres as well as the refraction at the surface of the opal. A mere 1cm of opal can take up to 6 million years to form; though slow to grow, the resulting myriad of colors is breathtaking.

Aquanova Opal RingMoondust Diamond and Lightning Ridge Crystal Opal RingAlchemy Opal Ring

How is opal mined?

While a range of mining methods are employed, much opal is mined by shaft sinking or shaft mining, which means a vertical tunnel is excavated from the top down until some promising “opal dirt” is discovered. Once opal is discovered, a miner then slowly branches out sideways using a hand pick or screwdriver to carefully extract any opal they found. Opals are delicate gemstones, and should be handled with care from extraction and transporting to designing and wearing, but when cared for properly, they can last a lifetime.

NIXIN Jewelry has relationships with opal suppliers across the globe, working directly with the miners who extract this spectacular material from the earth, as well as with the talented artisans who cut these beautiful gems, revealing the colorful secrets within. When you purchase opal jewelry from NIXIN Jewelry, you can feel confident knowing you are supporting a network of small businesses and skilled artisans around the world who love what they do.

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind piece of art that evokes emotion and tells your unique story of strength, perseverance, or love let NIXIN Jewelry guide you through our selection of precious opal rings for women. Nicki, Founder and Designer of NIXIN Jewelry, selects only the most striking opal gemstones and transforms them into spellbinding visuals meant to awaken your soul. Each opal ring is dressed in 14K gold and paired with carefully curated precious gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds that echo the translucent shades of the opal.

NIXIN Jewelry offers a stunning, bespoke collection of handcrafted Australian opal rings, necklaces and earrings in an array of sizes and styles.

Visit our shop to start living your life—in color.

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