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Tech: opals

Hollowfox 15 Feb 06 - 08:34 PM
Stilly River Sage 15 Feb 06 - 09:09 PM
Rapparee 15 Feb 06 - 09:34 PM
Stilly River Sage 16 Feb 06 - 12:10 AM
Stilly River Sage 16 Feb 06 - 12:13 AM
Joe Offer 16 Feb 06 - 01:14 AM
open mike 16 Feb 06 - 03:33 AM
John MacKenzie 16 Feb 06 - 04:15 AM
Liz the Squeak 16 Feb 06 - 10:12 AM
Hollowfox 16 Feb 06 - 11:42 AM
open mike 16 Feb 06 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Wesley S 16 Feb 06 - 03:44 PM
Rapparee 16 Feb 06 - 06:37 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Feb 06 - 06:57 PM
Rapparee 16 Feb 06 - 07:46 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Feb 06 - 07:50 PM
GUEST,Ingrid Frances Stark 17 Feb 06 - 02:07 AM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Feb 06 - 06:05 AM
mouldy 17 Feb 06 - 06:45 AM
sian, west wales 17 Feb 06 - 07:46 AM
mack/misophist 17 Feb 06 - 09:12 AM
Donuel 17 Feb 06 - 09:38 AM
Hollowfox 17 Feb 06 - 02:36 PM
katlaughing 17 Feb 06 - 04:38 PM
SINSULL 17 Feb 06 - 08:02 PM
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Subject: Tech: opals
From: Hollowfox
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 08:34 PM

I'm getting conflicting advice on the best way to store my opals. Some years ago a friend who knew his way around the lapidary told me to store them in mineral oil. Now another friend who also knows his way around the lapidary says that this is a really bad idea that can harm the stones, and that they should be stored in water. Currently I have everything in distilled water, but I'd appreciate any advice you folks can give.


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Subject: RE: Tech: opals
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 09:09 PM

Are they in settings?

I worked for a geology professor for a couple of years in college. I remember that his advice was to occasionally give them a wipe with mineral oil, but he said nothing about leaving them in any liquid all of the time.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: opals
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 09:34 PM

Are they sealed? Opals get their fire from water trapped within the crystaline structure, and modern opals are sealed to prevent moisture loss, usually with clear quartz or, in the cheaper ones, plastic. If they aren't sealed I'd use distilled water; if they are sealed I wouldn't worry about it.

My wife's are sealed and we just keep them in her jewelry box.

My brother, who does gems as a hobby, says that eventually ALL opals will lose their fire because the entrapped water is lost no matter how well you seal them.

And don't ask me how you seal an opal -- I have no idea, I'm just passing on what I was told.


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Subject: RE: Tech: opals
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 12:10 AM

This looks like someone's homemade page on opal care. (Shoulda used a spell checker!)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: opals
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 12:13 AM

And this from an Australian opal site:

Care and Feeding of Your Opal

   
  • Wear it often it likes to breathe. Touch it often. It likes contact with the skin. the natural oils in your skin keeps the opal "moist" and lustrous. (Contrary to popular belief, true Australian opal is not porous and will not absorb contamination in perspiration or other bodily moisture.)
       
  • Do not wash dishes, clothes or other items with it on. Opals contain water. The harsh detergents in dish or laundry soaps can "dry" out the stone.
       
  • Do not wear opals in any type of hot tub, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, sauna, steam room, bath tub or shower. Exposure to prelong submersion in any water with or without detergents or chemicals will destroy opals.
       
  • Do not garden with it on. continuous contact with the soil can abrade the surface of your stone.
       
  • Do not clean your opal jewelry with ultrasonic device. Use plain water and a good, nonabrasive had or facial soap.
       
  • Do Not store your opal in oil or glycerin.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 01:14 AM

    Opals have always fascinated me - they're such beautiful stones. I've never known anything about them, so I'm glad to see this thread. Is there more that somebody can tell us about opals?
    -Joe-


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: open mike
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 03:33 AM

    I love opals..
    there is an opal mine in
    Spencer Idaho, just south
    of the Montana border.
    http://www.rexcc.com/thingstodo/attractions/chamberdays.html


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: John MacKenzie
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 04:15 AM

    I too love opals, and had some opal jewellery stolen by a girl I picked up, many years ago.
    I especially went to look at a couple of opal shops when I was in Sydney and found the prices to be [in my opinion] OTT.
    One day perhaps I will find something nice at a price I can afford, they are my birthstone so I should have at least one piece.
    There is also a legend that they are unlucky to wear unless they are your birthstone.
    Giok


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Liz the Squeak
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 10:12 AM

    I had an opal engagement ring.. I stopped wearing it at work because the stone was getting caught on the rolling stack. Of course, I put it somewhere safe and haven't seen it since... several years ago now!

    I know where it SHOULD be.....

    LTS


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Hollowfox
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 11:42 AM

    (Thanks to whoever put this where it belongs) I don't know if they are sealed. One is in a ring purchased in Edinborough (!) in 1980. Another ring is a cluster of fire opals I inherited from my grandmother, so the ring was probably purchased somewhere between 1955 and 1975. And then there's a tumbled piece that my mother bought in the late 1950's. Thanks for the help, all.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: open mike
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 11:47 AM

    http://www.idahogems.com/ojewelry.htm


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: GUEST,Wesley S
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 03:44 PM

    You might also send a PM to Mudcatter "Ironmule". He's not here often but he's a wealth of information on opals. He's a gemcarver - I own an opal stickpin that he made for me.

    I've been tempted to put an opal in the headstock of a mandolin.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Rapparee
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 06:37 PM

    Spencer is about two hours north of where I am. I've been there, and the streets are NOT paved with gold. In fact, they are barely paved at all. BUT they do have some absolutely gorgeous opals, both raw and polished. You can buy them mounted or unmounted, too. When I was up there two years back you could even go out to the opal mine (a pit, really) and poke around and see what you could find.

    But Man! there are some nice opals there! (And the prices show that the locals know the value of their work, too. A pair of earrings for my wife set me back US $200.)


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: The Fooles Troupe
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 06:57 PM

    How do you mount an opal?


    Ouch! Don't hit me again!


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Rapparee
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 07:46 PM

    Go up to its left side, put your left foot in the stirrup....


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: The Fooles Troupe
    Date: 16 Feb 06 - 07:50 PM

    The LEFT foot! So that's why I always end up facing the ass...


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: GUEST,Ingrid Frances Stark
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 02:07 AM

    There are lots of ways to cut and polish an opal, and not all opals are solid stones.

    If your stone has a black or dark blue back, and a clear top, it is a triplet. This is made by sandwiching a very thin piece of opal between a solid stone back, often black onyx, and a clear top, either quartz or glass. if you look at your stone from the side, you can see the layers in a triplet.

    A doublet lacks the dark back layer, but still has a clear top layer.
    The layers in a triplet or doublet are glued together, usually with an epoxy compound, before the stone is cut to shape and polished. These are fairly sturdy, but I still would'nt wash the dishes, or the car while wearing one.

    If your stone is solid, it should be translucent, at least in some ares, and possibly even transparent. You may see layers within the stone, usually along planes of "fire" or color.

    No opal should be subjected to sudden temperature changes, especially hot or very cold water. If the natural layers and inclusions in the stone change temperature at different rates, the stone may crack.

    As to how to mount an opal? Very carefully. I've found bezel setting to be more useful than prong setting. Set in prongs like a diamond raises the stone from the ring, bracelet, etc. and puts it in danger of being knocked about. A bezel, a thin strip of metal pressed about the base of the stone, affords it some protection

    Hope this helps.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: The Fooles Troupe
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 06:05 AM

    AH! The OTHER Left!!!!


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: mouldy
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 06:45 AM

    Yesterday I purchased an opal bead necklace:158 perfestly matched little round beads...I love it! In the present light they are showing green. I'm glad to find out how to look after them. I'll make sure I don't go swimming in them.

    Andrea


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: sian, west wales
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 07:46 AM

    Isn't there some superstition about opals? Like, you shouldn't wear them unless they are your birth stone or zodiac stone?

    siân


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: mack/misophist
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 09:12 AM

    Unprocessed opals are considered unstable. The water that gives them their fire may or may not evaporate when exposed to air. For this reason, unprocessed opals are ALWAYS stored in plain water. It's a matter of let the buyer beware. Stable, unsealed opals are considered 'better' than the sealed ones but the custom is to let the buyer/cutter take the risk of finding out if the stone is naturally stable or not. Of all the gemstones, it's probably the most fragile, both physically and chemically. Tanzanite, by the way, is hard but brittle. Never use it in a ring, bracelet, etc. I spent about a decade in and around the fringes of the business. This is gleaned from both texts and general lore. Feel free to PM me for specifics.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Donuel
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 09:38 AM

    At the Smithsonian downtown you can buy a 5 lb Idaho opal in matix for 80 to 200 dollars. They were mostly pinkish.

    I love the kind that have rust red canyon walls with a clear look down to the bottom.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: Hollowfox
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 02:36 PM

    Thanks, Ingrid and Mack. I know about doublets and triplets, and they're not a concern here. It's good that you put in that heads-up, though. And the advice about bezel vs prongs is a good thing to know. I'm not going to reset the rings, but this thread will be useful to other folk beside me. The tumbled pendant is a low grade stone, mostly white (quartz?), with a couple of nice streaks of fire.


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: katlaughing
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 04:38 PM

    If you tend to be an emotional-type, opals can heighten them, esp. indecision (wishy-washy) at least that's what folklore says and personal experience with my oldest dau. who used to wear them as they are her birthstone. Without a grounding influence of hematite or certain other stones, they can be a bit much for certain people.:-)

    kat


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    Subject: RE: Tech: opals
    From: SINSULL
    Date: 17 Feb 06 - 08:02 PM

    Bad luck to wear an opal if they are not your birthstone. I wear a black opal set simply in gold. It looks exactly like a Mood Ring and years ago was often confused with one. Beautiful blues and greens depending on the light. I have another bought in Sydney in the 70s. It too is a "black opal" but has yellow, green and red flashes.
    I love them. Never had done anything special to care for them.
    My first opal was set in a dinner ring and was stolen - long story. It is cursed. Wouldn't take it back on a bet.


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