Can Opal Jewelry Be Worn Everyday? | The Diamond Reserve

Can Opal Jewelry Be Worn Everyday?

Opal is a beautiful gemstone known for its captivating play-of-color, displaying flashes of different colors when viewed from different angles, and is one of the most unique gemstones in the world. While opal is a rather fragile stone, and requires special attention and care, there are ways to set it and protect it for use in everyday wear such as in an engagement ring.

Is Opal Good for Jewelry?

Opals can be milky white, fiery red or a variety of dark-tones, all with a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues, so it’s no wonder people are drawn to their beauty. Opals are relatively soft and contain up to 21% water as a result of how they form underground, making them vulnerable to sudden changes in temperature like moving from an air-conditioned room to the outdoors on a hot summer day. They will also quickly become covered with fine scratches and lose their polish if worn everyday, especially as a ring stone.

There are three factors to look at when considering a gemstone’s wearability: 

  • Hardness: how easily the gem can be scratched
  • Toughness: how easy is it to crack or chip the stone
  • Stability: will chemicals, light, temperature, or moisture alter the gem’s appearance

Opals have two significant weaknesses as jewelry stones: a low, 5.5 – 6.5 rating on Mohs hardness, meaning they have a lower hardness than one of the most common hazards jewelry stones face, household dust, which has a hardness of 7. They also have significant water content which affects their stability.

There are however design choices that can help protect your opal, including bezel settings, solid backings, raised prongs or basket like settings. You’ll need to take your opal ring off for sports, exercise, dish washing and other activities where it’s likely to be banged, and avoid exposing it to sources of cold or heat. Opals require maintenance, repolishing and special care, but if you’re set on this lovely stone, rest assured that you can choose opal for your jewelry including an engagement ring. 

How to Care for Opal Jewelry

Hardness, measured on Mohs scale, defines how well a gemstone resists scratches and abrasions, and toughness is a mineral’s resistance to breaking and chipping, which is often measured as its tenacity or resistance to blows, both are important considerations for wearability. You’ll definitely want to choose a protective setting for your opal, which will keep the stone from breaking, but will not protect it against inevitable scratches. Luckily, professional polishing can bring life back to a stone that’s become dull and scratched. 

In addition to avoiding wearing your opal during activities where it could easily be damaged, you should also carefully store your stone in a cloth bag to keep dust away and ensure it’s not scratched by other stones in your jewelry box. When it comes to cleaning your ring, avoid traditional jewelry cleaners, ultrasonic cleaners and using a toothbrush to scrub it. Simply wipe your ring or use mild dish soap, or leave the polishing and cleaning up to your jeweler. 

If you appreciate opals’ unique beauty and are committed to taking proper care of your jewelry, opals can be an excellent choice for creating stunning and distinctive pieces. If you have questions or want help designing the perfect piece of jewelry to match your lifestyle give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule a consultation.