How to Care for Ethiopian Opals

Did you know that without proper care, the appearance of your Opal can change dramatically? Read on to learn the top 6 tips to maintaining the natural beauty of your Opals. 

Ethiopian Opals were first discovered in 1994 and then again in 2008 in the Wello province of northern Ethiopia, where they continue to be mined to this day. These Ethiopian Opals are often referred to as Welo Opals, African Opals or Water Opals. 

High quality Ethiopian Opals have colourful flashes and fire; they can have one specific colour (generally green or blue) or there can be many colours.  The colours that can be found are red, orange, yellow, gold, green, blue, purple, pink and all the various shades of these. 

Ethiopian Opal Stud earrings
1. Keep Opals Away From Water! 
Ethiopian Opals are "hydrophane", this means that they absorb water and when they do their appearance changes. If the Opals come in contact with water, they will soak it up it like a sponge.  If the Opals are submerged in water and allowed to absorb it, they may lose their fire temporarily and turn yellow or brown. The fire and colour should come back once the opals have fully dried, however, this can take a day to a few weeks, depending on how much water they absorbed.  
2. Avoid Liquid Chemicals Around Your Ethiopian Opals.  
Due to the opal's hydrophane nature, liquids like perfumes, soaps and cleaning products can stain your opals and change their colour. If this occurs, try wiping them with a soft, damp cloth before allowing them to dry, naturally, on their own. 
3. Protect Opals From Extreme Changes in Temperature.  
Ethiopian opals can cope with gradual temperature changes well but do not like extreme temperature changes. So when drying an opal that has managed to soak up water and lose its fire, let it dry naturally. Never try to speed up the process with a hair dryer or other heat source.  
4. Avoid Strenuous Activity while Wearing Ethiopian Opals!  
When wearing opal jewellery, please remember it is actually a relatively soft gemstone. Opals measure 5.5 to 6.5 on Moh's scale of hardness, which puts them below Amethyst (7) and Topaz (8) and above coral (3 to 4). This means that it is best to take off your opal rings and bracelets when playing sports, gardening, cleaning and any other manual labour as Opal can be scratched by dirt particles and any hard knocks can cause the Opal to crack.
5. How To Clean Ethiopian Opals 
After every wear, the best cleaning method for Ethiopian Opal Jewellery is to use a clean, soft, dry microfibre cloth to gently buff away fingerprints, dirt, residue and oils. Never use a steamer or ultrasonic cleaner; the Opal is simply too fragile and may crack. 
6. How To Store Your Ethiopian Opals 
Keep your Opal jewelry separate from other pieces to minimise accidental contact or scratches to the stones and store your Opal jewellery in its jewellery box, away from moisture, humidity and direct sunlight.


If these rules of Opal care are followed, your Opals should stay as beautiful as they day you bought them! 

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