I have to admit that I'm not sure I understand all that I'm
suppose to about all of this, but would some one answer for me
this, do opals really deteriorate when mounted in jewelry? While in
the ground opals aren't constantly in a liquid. I have several jars
of raw opals and have always kept them stored in water, but is this
really necessary or just myth?
Ray, perhaps the main problem in understanding this subject is the
thought that all opal is the same thing. The reality is that there
are many different types of opal, it occurs in many different ways,
and in many different levels of stability. Some opal is inherently
more stable than others, some is not.
If you want to know which of your rough opal won’t crack or craze,
take them out of the water for a year or two. If cracking or crazing
doesn’t occur by that time, chances are it won’t ever - at least not
under normal temperature/humidity/barometric pressure circumstances.
A sudden variation in any of those elements can cause dire
consequences. Opal that is in the ground isn’t subject to those
variations. Subterranean temperature, humidity and pressure are
usually fairly constant, so there won’t be the kind of shock present
to craze them.
Do opals deteriorate after mounting in jewelry? Some do, some don’t.
How can you tell if they will? You can’t, really. Mount them anyway.
You’ll know soon enough.
Opal is not for the faint of heart. Keeping rough opal stored in
water is a great way to keep it “hydrated,” but it won’t stabilize
them. Take them out and wait. Or take them out, cut them, and wait
(I prefer to cut them as I am of the "cut opal is sealed opal"
school of thought). It’s the only way to KNOW. And I do suggest you
polish the backs, as well as the tops. Those of us who believe that
a fully polished opal (front and back) is more stable will always
suggest it. It’s open to argument, but I polish the backs of every
stone I cut anyway. Why do half the job?
James in SoFl