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Opal inlay

Hi! I would sure appreciate some input. I want to make a ring with
opal inlay and channel set diamonds. Which part would I do first? Do
I inlay the opal and then set the diamonds, or the other way around,
or does it matter? What exactly do I have to be careful about in the
process? Thanks for any insight, Kim

Hi Kim! Whenever you’re combining Opal inlay with other stones it is
safest to inlay the Opal last. Opal is -very- sensitive to heat…so
once the inlay is in place you no longer have the option of using your
torch without serious risk of damage to the Opal.


Hello Kim, A lot depends on your design. If the diamond setting
process disturbs the inlay walls the opal will fracture, however if
the diamonds are set with their crowns above the height of the channel
the inlay process will be severely impaired and the diamonds will be
damaged if diamond cutting tools are used in finishing the
inlay.  I prefer to not have to work around any set stones but
sometimes the design dictates otherwise. Tony

Kim, Do the inlay first. Set the diamonds last. If you set the
diamonds first and the diamonds are close to the inlay the diamond
wheels may scratch the surface on the diamonds when you grind off the
opals. Jimmy

kim - a suggestion: you will not be doing anything strenuous requiring
impact on the settings while inlaying the opal, so i would set the
diamond first. i’ve found that laying a thin ‘bed’ of e6000 adhesive
before setting or inlaying opals is a great insurance policy for
absorbing minor impacts while being worn. i just finished a pendant
with a 2 1/2" h by 1 1/8" w boulder opal - totally without any
surface matrix - i cut from a top specimen & it was set with such a
’bed’. good luck - ive

I would set the diamonds first. You don’t want to be hammer setting
diamonds that close to opals after you’ve done all the inlay work.

hello Orchid it has been awhile, i have made literally hundreds of
opal inlay with everything from diamonds to tanzanite and pearl, all
metals, the opal in MOST cases should be last because of potential
slips of diamond setting tools, polishing of gold around diamond, and
the after cleaning of diamond…beeswax, rouge, etc etc…all of these
processes can be harmful to inlaid opals, which use EPOXY type
adhesives (heat sensitive, solvent sensitive)…I would agree
diamond polishing compounds can scratch a diamond…use cerium and
hand dremels soaked with diamond compound felt wheels for close to
diamond / inlay areas…very good article in LJ a few years
ago…by a real expert, name eludes me but i will find the
article…it is always easier to polish a nice piece of opal inlay
last than risk replacing it later while setting a diamond or other
colored stones…good luck…Any Opal Call we can handle WHOLESALE

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Hello Kim, You should try to do work first that you can apply heat to
in case of mistake. Always apply heat sensitive materials last. In
this case; set the opal last. Have fun. Tom Arnold

Hello Kim, Opal is a softer gemstone anyway,so for this reason I would
set the diamonds and then take care about the opals.It’s just a
matter of not damaging the opals by mistake.You may think otherwise
and cover the opal and then work on the diamonds,but i like to go for
number sure without the risk of saying “I should have…*#@%”.
Enjoy, Pedro

Does anyone in the Orchid world cut opal for inlay work? I have been
asked to make a ring with an angel. The wings have to be inlaid with
a single piece of opal for each wing. Let me know if anyone is
interested in taking on this project. Please contact me off line at
the address below.


Joel Schwalb

Hi Kids!, I have a bug to do some inlay work with opal. I’ve been
thinking about how to go about it for a while now and I want to get
some opinions about my ideas. I have some great pieces of opal rough,
some very small and a man’s ring with an empty “bezel” that actually
once held a piece of black onyx.The “bezel” is raised above the
surface and looks like a diagonal slash and has a row of small
diamonds on each side of it. I’m going to fill the bezel tightly with
opal chunks then fill it in with black Durenamel. After it has cured I
will grind the surface down to the top of the “bezel” and polish it to
a smooth shine.I’m thinking the black background will enhance the gel
body opal and it will have a brilliant fire. I’m planning to give it
as a gift on Oct.1st and I really don’t want to mess it up. What do
you think? Am I on track? Any advice or comments will be appreciated.
Thanks to all, Patty Rios

I'm going to fill the bezel tightly with opal chunks then fill it in
with black Durenamel 

Doesn’t sound like a good plan. To properly inlay opal, either as a
single piece, a buildup of several pieces, or as a mosaic, the
material is sliced to the approximate thickness and then cut to fit
the mounting or pattern. If it is being set in a deep bezel, you
will make a doublet then cut it to fit the mounting.

If you just try to glue chunks in, you will get an uneven thickness,
and the points will contact the metal and you will not get the black
backing you want. Also when you grind down the opal to the desired
height you will end up with an unpredictable pattern.


Just an FYI, I tried filing a channel with opal chuncks and Durenamel

  • what a mess. The only thing I could do wa melt out the durenamel
    and this of course ruined the opals. This is not a mistake I will
    make again. : - )

I’m not familiar with Durenamel but, if it does make a mess as
someone said, try this as an alternative for a black-colored ground:
File ebony wood till you have enough powder to blacken epoxy and use
the epoxy to hold your opal chips. Use only enough of the powdered
ebony to turn the epoxy black; more will weaken its bonding ability.


Dear friends, Help! Our store has two pieces of opal inlay jewelry
that have pieces missing or chipped. These are the very dark
blue/green opals. Does anyone know where I could send them to get
these broken stones replaced? Thanks,

Dina at Annapolis Precious Metals