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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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What's the Difference Between Opal Doublets, Opal Triplets, and Solid Opals?

Opals come in three different categories: doublets, triplets, and solid opals. Opal doublets and triplets are a beautiful and more affordable alternative to solid opals, but it is important to understand the differences between them to determine which option is most suitable to your lifestyle. Opal doublets and triplets are layered opals designed to enhance the appearance and perceived value of a thin or lighter piece of opal by gluing it to a dark backing, amplifying its unique play of color.

Identifying opal doublets, opal triplets, and solid opals

Let’s take a closer look at each type of opal and how to identify them:

Opal doublets

An opal doublet is a type of assembled gemstone composed of two layers: a piece of clear or translucent opal and, most often, a piece of black or dark potch (common) opal. The dark backing may also be black industrial glass, hard plastic, brown ironstone, or vitrolite. A doublet can be identified by looking at its side or edges. It will have a very clean, straight, and visible seam where the opal was glued to the black backing, whereas the edge around a solid opal will have a more organic, jagged delineation between colored precious opal and host rock. Doublets are commonly used to imitate a solid black opal because the black backing shows through the clear, solid opal resulting in darker and more vibrant colors. 

Opal doublet
Opal doublet
Solid opal
Solid opal
As you can see from these images, unless you know exactly what the difference is, a solid opal can be easily mistaken for a doublet and vice versa. In fact, this happened to one of our clients. She sent us what she believed was an opal doublet that her dad had gifted her and requested we transform it into a necklace. However, upon closer inspection, we were delighted to share with her that her stone (2nd image) was actually a stunning, solid Boulder Opal. She was thrilled (as were we!) and she now adores the one-of-a-kind, gold opal necklace we created for her from her breathtaking and sentimental blue opal.
Custom Boulder opal necklace from NIXIN Jewelry
Custom Boulder opal necklace from NIXIN

Opal triplets

An opal triplet is similar to an opal doublet in that it is also a thin slice of opal that’s been enhanced by a darker host rock; however, the solid opal is then magnified with a domed quartz or glass topper. This creates three layers to this type of opal – hence the name ‘triplet.’  The black backing does an excellent job of illuminating the play of color on the opal layer, which can really make the piece of jewelry stand out. Combining this with a glass topper not only protects the opal, but magnifies the intensity of the color and pattern, which can greatly enhance the overall appearance. Moreover, because the topper is made of synthetic materials, triplets have the benefit of a buffering layer from impact.

Opal triplet: Image by Mac's Opals
Opal triplet: Image by Mac's Opals

Here are three signs of an opal triplet:

  1. A glue line where the solid opal meets the base.
  2. A very thin layer of color sandwiched between a dark-colored potch opal and a dome of quartz or glass.
  3. The opal top looks glassy, and the color does not travel to the top of the gemstone.

Solid opals

Natural solid opals are the most valuable because they are cut from only the natural stone without any treatment or enhancement. There have not been any man-made clear tops or backing glued to them. While all opal should be handled with care, solid opals are generally more durable than doublets or triplets because they are composed of one solid piece of opal, rather than a thin layer of natural opal adhered to additional materials.  Three of the most predominant types of solid opal include light and crystal opal, Boulder opal, and Black opal. 

Exhale lavender Boulder opal rose gold ring by NIXIN Jewelry
Exhale lavender Boulder opal rose gold ring by NIXIN

How to care for opal doublets and opal triplets

Opal doublets and triplets can be beautiful and more cost-effective alternatives to solid opal gemstones. However, it is important to understand how to care for them to avoid damage. Doublets and triplets are made of multiple layers that have been glued together, so exposure to water will eventually cause lifting between the layers and water damage. If this happens, they will start to appear ‘foggy’ or grey and the layers can separate completely.  While opal doublets can be just as striking in appearance as solid opals, a doublet can also be more susceptible to damage, given its very thin layer of opal atop the potch. This is something to take into consideration when deciding whether to opt for a doublet or a solid opal in your opal jewelry.

To care for these pieces, doublets and triplets may be wiped with a soft, damp cloth and mild detergent, but should never be soaked or submerged in water. You should also avoid bleach, chemicals, cleaners, and ultrasonic cleaners, avoid blunt force and remove these pieces before any rigorous activity.  While chemical exposures and blunt force should also be avoided with solid Australian Opals, solids should not be damaged by immersion in water.

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind work of art that speaks to your heart and captures your unique story of strength, perseverance, or love, visit our shop and explore our extraordinary selection of opal rings for women. Nicki, Founder and Designer of NIXIN Jewelry, selects only the most striking opal gemstones and transforms them into mesmerizing visuals that will delight your eyes and ignite your soul.

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