Why Opals Can Change Color

The unique color flashes and ethereal glow of opals make this gem feel like pure magic, but has your opal ever magically changed color overnight?  Don’t stress, it’s totally normal.  Read on for the reason why your opal changed color and our top tips on opal care.

Why Opals Change Color

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Opals are one of the most unique gemstones, not only because of their mesmerizing color, but also because of their chemical composition.  Opals contain a significant amount of water, up to 20% in some cases!  

The amount of water in opals will fluctuate over time based on factors like humidity, heat, sweat and contact with water.  When an opal gains or loses water, its color will change.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes this subtle color change can make the opal look even more beautiful (and certainly lends to the stone’s mystique).  But you do want to take care not to change your opal’s water composition too much.

How To Care For Opals

  1. Never fully submerge your opal in water.  Minor fluctuations in the water composition of your opal are fine, but you never want to fully submerge your gem in water.  Take your opal jewelry off while showering, washing your hands, swimming, cleaning, etc.

  2. Avoid exposing opals to either extreme darkness or excessively bright light. Think of the stone as a houseplant requiring the utmost balance of elements to retain its natural beauty.

  3. Store your opals in a sealed container.  This will help regulate humidity and reduce changes in color due to fluctuation of humidity in the air.

  4. Never use chemical cleaners.  Opals should only be cleaned with warm water (and never exposed to harsh chemicals, even cleaners).  Our favorite method is to dampen a soft cloth and gently rub the stones.

Knowledge is power.  Now that you know how to care for opal jewels, find your new favorites in our opal jewelry collection.