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Storing opals in distilled water


#1

Was: Polishing around soft stones

OPAL SETTING 101 Store your unset opals in distilled water, they
do not like to dry out. 

I have to disagree for a couple of reasons. People who deal in opal
normally don’t store it in water other than forpurposes of visual
presentation. It makes the rough easier to “see” what it will look
like polished, and the round jars make it all look bigger. I’ve
never seen any credible evidence that opals really absorb water,
more than what is already in them (excepting hydrophane of course).
Finally, even if that was true, I would then want to make SURE NOT
to store them in water so I could weed out the small percentage of
opal that would crack when it “dries out”, since anyone I sold it to
could not be expected to keep them in water all the time.

Either way, I don’t keep mine in water, distilled or otherwise.

Todd


#2

Agree with Todd. Storing cut opals in distilled (or any other) water
is sheer nonsense, one more in the vast catalogue of opal myths. No
other stone it seems to me has collected such an aura of hokum and
buncombe of the “oh my gosh never do this, never do that” variety. In
a sense one can take these myths as a backhanded compliment to the
opal, as being, of all stones, the most magical and mysterious.

I have done experiments, just out of curiosity, with water and opal,
specifically Welo hydrophane, leaving two pieces in water for
several days.

One piece I recall absorbed 3% of its weight in water in the first
24 hours, and no more thereafter, the other 1.9 percent, similarly.

With Mexican opal, and for that matter any questionable - i. e.
primarily volcanic hosted - opal, a recommended practice is to is to
abuse it for six months or so, leave it outside on a hot tin roof or
somewhere where there’s lots of temperature change. If after that
time it hasn’t crazed it’s assumed to be safe to cut. But that’s a
rough and ready rule which does not by any means give 100% assurance.

In a baggie pinned to my corkboard I have before me as I type two
Mexican fire opals, one an emerald cut, the other a step cut, each
about 2 carats, both cracked through and through. The emerald cut I
had in my gem case for something like eight years, through all kinds
of temperature changes like being left in the car overnight in
Canadian winter on more than one occasion. Never bothered it. Then,
having put in its eight years all of a sudden it decided to crack.
Why? Who knows.

In a general sort of way opal rough is sold in water filled bottles
precisely for the reason Todd mentions: the water approximates what
the opal will look like polished. Also (more subtly) the curved glass
of the bottles acts as a magnifier - makes it look like you’re
getting more.

That’s not deceptive, it’s just the way it’s done. That being said
the water does also conceal cracks. Again that’s a known fact, and
thus any serious buyer of opal rough will take the stone out of the
bottle and look at it dry before buying.

That’s rough opal. Cut opals are stored dry, the way they will be
worn.

Cheers all
Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada


#3
Storing cut opals in distilled (or any other) water is sheer
nonsense 

Worse, it may hide problems. I won’t buy opal in water, and prefer
vendors who guarantee it has been in air at least 6 months.

Most Australian opal is pretty stable, but many other kinds fall
apart when they dry out.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#4

Hi

Opals stored in water.

This depends on the temperature of where you are. Opal miners do
this because the temperature is regularly over 38 degrees centigrade
with very low humidity.

It makes the rough easier to “see” what it will look like polished

Good point Todd, It is the rough I have seen in water.

I know want to know what is the atmosphere, in the jewellery shops
in Coober Pedy and Lightning ridge.

I am betting it is air conditioned with normal humidity.

Richard


#5
Worse, it may hide problems. I won't buy opal in water, and prefer
vendors who guarantee it has been in air at least 6 months. Most
Australian opal is pretty stable, but many other kinds fall apart
when they dry out. 

I buy my opals exclusively from one dealer, she’s known as “The
Pairs Queen”, I’ve bought from others and have been disappointed.

Regards Charles A.


#6

One should never buy opal that has been placed in water!! It is why
Peruvian honey-butterscotch -golden opal is no longer mined and
bought in Peru as it had water problems and turned brownish opaque
rather then the good color and translucency it had after mining. Some
peruvian blue opals can have water problems. We know this as miners
and cutters inLima Peru of the product. We have seen dealers who keep
the peruvianblue opal in water as that opal has a water problem in it
or will stickthe opal back in water right before a show, dry it off
and sell it. Allopal should be dryed in sunlight without water for 4
to 6 months. Unfortunately many miners includign wello opal and other
eithiopian farmer/minersas well as peruvian miners need funds
immediately and sell such without drying. This water problem is also
seen in chalcedony/agates, and gem silica chrysocolla in Peru and
elsewhere as it is a chalcedony/agatecolored by copper
minerals/chrysocolla.

There ar methods to in fact stabilize such water problems in which a
new water souable sealer is used with a vacum pump to seal the pores
of such opals and keep the water in. Simliar to the sealing of
emeradls with emerald sealer to keep dyeas well as oil within the
emerald so it appears darker and hides cracks, etc

You may see my lectures for GIA Washington DC Alumni Organization
(Society) at dcgia. org or my other lectures /presentations on “Gemstones
of Peru” on the internet Please feel free to contact me offline

Thank you

Lee Horowitz, M.Ed, CAGS
perublueopal.com