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Storage in Safety Deposit Boxes


#1

Ok, I’m about to really dangle my ignorance out there but I have a
question or two to ask here. If the air conditioning systems do dry
the air out ( and I do think they will) is there no way to store
opals in an air tight container with something that will maintain a
certain amount of moisture inside the container without damaging the
opals? I had heard once ( and have no idea at all how true it is)
that opals could be stored in very small quantities of mineral oil
for long term storage. It was supposed to protect the stones as well
as retain or enhance the colors in the stones. I honestly do not
know the accuracy of this. It just seems that a certain degree of
climate control could be maintained in a small air-tight container
of some sort.

My second question here is, what about all the other types of jewely
out there that do not use opals? How would the air conditioning
systems affect them if at all?

As I said, I am very ignorant on these subjects (especially about
opals and other stones) because I use primarily metals only at this
stage of my learning experience. Inquiring braincells are thirsting
for knowledge here.

Mike


#2
    I had heard once ( and have no idea at all how true it is) that
opals could be stored in very small quantities of mineral oil for
long term storage. It was supposed to protect the stones as well as
retain or enhance the colors in the stones. I honestly do not know
the accuracy of this. It just seems that a certain degree of
climate control could be maintained in a small air-tight container
of some sort. 

Michael, As I mentioned in a previous post, opal can, indeed, be
stored in an airtight container with liquid to help prevent or deter
thermal shock (or you can call it “a certain degree of climate
control”). The vast majority of opalholics do agree that opal can
"re-hydrate" most liquids and, since the diffraction of light in
opal is caused by the water between the stacked silica spheres
within, water is usually the liquid of choice. Most, but not all,
opalholics agree that mineral oil, or any oil can be absorbed into
an opal, possibly discoloring it. If you believe that opal can
re-hydrate, you must also believe it can soak up oils.

This begs the question: If opal can soak up mineral oil, then why do
they recommend I wear it daily to prevent crazing by wicking out my
body’s natural oils? I can’t answer that one, but it does beg
another question from me: If you bought opal jewelry, why on earth
wouldn’t you want to wear it? That’s the opalholic in me talking :slight_smile:

     My second question here is, what about all the other types of
jewely out there that do not use opals? How would the air
conditioning systems affect them if at all? 

Good question. Opal is pretty much the only gemstone that can be
severely affected by dehydration, but thermal shock can affect quite
a few. Fortunately, it takes a fairly extreme temperature change to
make a difference. Also, opal dehydration can take a long time, and
that varies from piece to piece. It could take weeks or years.

Since all emeralds are oiled before they leave the mines, a lot of
people store them in some type of oil. I believe the most common
emerald oil treatment consists of Canada balsam (occasionally dyed,
as well), but there may be newer techniques. Air conditioning, safe
deposit boxes, etc. won’t have much of an effect on most jewelry.
However, there are lots of period pieces with such stones as
foilbacks that can suffer from humidity changes. If anyone has
valuable gems or jewelry of any kind, they should always insure them
for this purpose, and other obvious ones.

     As I said, I am very ignorant on these subjects (especially
about opals and other stones) because I use primarily metals only
at this stage of my learning experience. Inquiring braincells are
thirsting for knowledge here. 

If you’d like to learn a lot about opals, look into Paul B.
Downing’s books Opal Identification and Value, and Opal Adventures.
Fred Ward also has a good one, I believed titled simply Opal by Fred
Ward. The archives will list them, I’m sure. These will give you a
great start. One of the many web sites that specialize in gemology,
www.yourgemologist.com has a tremendous amount of about
most common And, you can always ask here.

James in SoFl


#3

Hi, Mike,

On the subject of opals, it has become clear to me, over a period of
years of reading on this forum, that there is considerable
conviction, but no consensus. What I know personally about opals
comes from a little experience, and Orchid. There has been
discussion about storing and coating opals with water, oil, and
glycerine, keeping them near sources of water or not, and the only
thing that seems clear is that you’re asking for trouble if you put
them in the sun (duh!) I suspect that asome opals will crack or
craze sooner or later, and some will not, and the rest of it is
sympathetic magic at worst and a delaying action at best.

I decided to jump in here because I am not an opal expert, but
have read everything that has been posted (and some other stuff I’ve
come across) with concern and interest for years. I’ve also had
opals that I’ve held for many years suddenly turn up cracked or
crazed, and my investment wasted.

If there is definitive knowledge, I haven’t seen it (or had any way
to recognize it). My own conclusion is that, if an opal doesn’t hold
up in the kinds of conditions an average person would keep it in,
without special treatment but also without special abuse (like being
left on the dashboard of a car-- or maybe a bank vault), then it
isn’t suitable to set and sell. So I hang onto opals for a minimum
of a couple of years, and if they’re still OK after sitting in my
summer-humid and winter-dry studio with my other stones, then I use
them.

–Noel


#4

Noel,

I am trying to get over the nasty Flu and I do mean nasty but I am
going to try and use a clear head to address something you said that
should not be done. I bring this up so no one misunderstands what
you said.

Opals should never be placed in glycerin. This is a sure way to dry
out an Opal.

Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: www.demarkjewelry.com
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry


#5
    It just seems that a certain degree of climate control could
be maintained in a small air-tight container of some sort. 

How about a cigar humidor? You can adjust the humidity to your
liking.

Jacksonville, FL
@chccarroll