Once known as the 'queen of the gems' by the Ancient Romans, opals have a very special quality about them. Typically a soft stone with an average MOH rating of 6, they are most commonly found in sedimentary and igneous rocks of Australia. Split into two groups – precious or common they are made up of 5 - 10 per cent water and have an amorous crystal structure. Common opals are white, milky and opaque in colour, whereas precious opals have flashes of iridescent colours, such as a combination of greens, pinks, reds, blues and oranges. Extra care should be taken when worn out in daylight to protect the precious gemstone. Opals are believed to enhance imagination and represent wisdom, hope and confidence.
Moh hardness: 5.5-6.5 (1 softest to 10 hardest)
Opal is a soft delicate gemstone which is susceptible to scratching, damage and erosion. Opal jewellery should be stored in a soft jewellery pouch or box when not being worn to avoid scratching and damage. It should be cleaned thoroughly with water and dried with a soft jewellery cloth. Opal jewellery should not be cleaned with diamond or gemstone solution cleaner and contact with harsh detergents and chemicals such as bleach or chlorine should be avoided as they may cause erosion to the stone. With opals there is also a risk of the stone drying out and cracking especially in environments with low humidity. Leave opal jewellery in the bathroom while showering as the steam will help to prevent the stone cracking.