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4 Common Opal Myths Busted

While opals are a beautiful and popular stone, various myths have developed over the years concerning how to look after them and keep them looking their best. This article busts some of the most common opal myths to ensure you aren’t misled.

Myth #1 Opal Earrings and Other Opal Jewellery Needs to Be Soaked in Water

This mythclaims that opals will crack if theyaren’t soaked in water periodically, but it’s completely untrue. As Australian opal is non-porous, it can’t even soak up water. The opal’s water content develops while the stone is being formed and water molecules become trapped within the silicon framework of the crystalline opal. But they can’t escape after that point, and neither can the opal absorb any more water. So soaking opal earrings in water will do nothing to them at all.

Myth #2 − Opals are Extremely Fragile and Opal Jewellery Will Break Easily

If you’ve got some opal earrings or other opal jewellery, you might have heard the myth that opals will break quite easily. While opals are more fragile than many other kinds of gemstones, they’re not as breakable aspeople think. In fact, opals are as hard as glass. However, activities such as moving furniture around, playing sport and digging in the garden should be avoided while wearing opal. This is because there’s the chance your opal might get knocked against a hard surface, with the impact being the main problem. As long as you avoid impact with hard surfaces, your opal jewellery should be fine.

Myth #3 − Opals Are Unstable and Easily Crack

The majority of opals are very stable and don’t crack at all. If an opal has a water content percentage of 3-10%, it is considered stable. If there is any unstable part of the opal, it usually falls away and cracks soon after the stone is mined. The stone is then processed, cut and polished, all of which would dislodge any unstable material. As discussed above, opals are as hard as glass, which gives you some measure of their strength.

Myth #4 − Contact With Water Damages Opals

This myth does not have any truth to it, as water does not damage opals. In fact, Australian precious opals are 5-6% water, but this water is all locked away. Opals are therefore not capable of absorbing more water, and contact with water will not cause expansion or cracking. This is true for all solid opals. The technicality is that the partially man-made doublet and triplet opals can become damaged if they’re immersed in water for long periods of time. These layered stones can separate and take on a foggy appearance if put into water for a lengthy amount of time. But with natural opals, contact with water does nothing at all.

To recap, soaking opals in water won’t do anything, and similarly they won’t be damaged by water either. Opals are as hard as glass and are quite stable by the time they’ve been processed, cut and polished.