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Welo opal


#1

I have recently purchased some opal from Ethiopia. In recent years I
had seen some Ethiopian opal, which was very unimpressive, and in
fact unstable. In the last 4 years or so, some finds have been made
in new localities which seem to be stable. I recently bought some of
this “Welo” opal, and it is really gorgeous! Reminds me of the best,
yummy Brazilian crystal. Anyway, most of this material is hydrophane
opal. It readily absorbs water, and when it does, it tends to turn
clear. It takes somehting like one half to one hour immersion in
water for a medium sized stone to be saturated. Happily, if you let
the stone dry out for a couple of days or maybe up to a week, the
water leaves the opal and it is back to its original state - no harm
done. So, if set in jewelry, one would have to take a long bath or
shower, for the stone to be affected. This would of course, have to
be disclosed to a buyer of a such an opal.

This opal is very good qualtiy for the money right now, but I’m
wondering what effect the hydrophane characteristic might have on
value of the set opals. BTW this characteristic is not unique to
Ethiopian opals. Perhaps someone out there has had some experience
with selling them. (?)


#2

Hi,

like you I have bought a parcel of rough and have started to cut it.
My worry is that like some other opal I have, it will crack at some
point in the future or lose its fire as body oil becomes absorbed. I
wont be using it for rings but for pendants and probably make a
couple of brooches as well to keep the wearing conditions as gentle
as possible. I have seen other pieces set and it does look great but
the price is considerably less than Australian opal. The price of the
rough has come down recently as well, a reflection on the
availability or because the lab created material is making great
inroads into the market?

Nick Royall


#3
The price of the rough has come down recently as well, a
reflection on the availability or because the lab created material
is making great inroads into the market? 

Yes, two concerns here. Should the hydrophane property of the Welo
opal affect the price?.. and what about created materials. The Welo
material could probably be confused with created opal or simulants. I
have taken to photographing the opal a couple of time during cutting
to at least be able to document that it is indeed natural.


#4

Todd & Group…

I saw the Orchid Question about the Welo Opal and figured I’d take a
quick moment to point folks over to a GREAT resource:
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/o6

You will find a very active global forum of opalholics who tend to
answer or help anyone that asks. There are collectors, carvers,
cutters, various Gemologists, mine owners, vendors and even a few
newbies now and again. :wink: I invite you to swing by the forum and say
hello. You don’t have to sign up if you don’t want to, you can just
sort & browse the various parts of the forums. Lots of information
about Welo and other Ethiopian Opal, along with Virgin Valley,
Idaho, Minitabi, Boulder, Brazilian, Mexican Fire Opal, etc… You’ll
find me as “Brightlights” if you care to say hello.

I am an amateur hobby guy for the last 8 years or so. If I ever stop
learning new things, I’ll drop the amateur tag. Various lapidary and
especially opal along with some basic silver work. I have cut a
number of opals, and really enjoy the Welo but mainly because of the
bang for the buck. Yes, they are Hydrophane and are sometimes
effected to various degree by moisture. We have stories of some
folks who live in humid locations that can use certain stones to
tell when a weather system is changing… On the other hand some
stones are have no reaction at all, so it is really a piece by piece
type thing dependent on the stone as there are various body
types/colors/etc all coming from the same general location. Is this
a problem for jewelry? You tell me… I have the some pieces I
created in this thread:

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/o7

And another I cut that was wrapped by a friend is here:

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/o8

I would definitely disclose that they are Hydrophane, maybe a brief
"care of your opal" card, but I don’t think it requires any drastic
measures. Opal is a softer stone, so either protect it in the
jewelry or warn the new owner… Don’t ding it against counter tops,
etc. Don’t wash your hands with it on, remove the ring before and
replace after a complete drying of the hands, showering, skinny
dipping, etc… Don’t work in the garden or change the oil in the
car with you lovely opal jewelry on. Maybe even don’t get it in
extreme cold/heat situations where sudden temperature changes could
hurt the stone. I tell the wife to just turn the ring into her palm
during the winter when outside between buildings and the car, Keep
the pendent inside her coat during the same excursions. Any of this
new for opal? Not really if you truly love your Opals.

BTW, I’m not trying to send you there to take you away from
Orchid… I would hope you find it an added resource if you are
truly interested in opal of any type.

Stephen Shimatzki


#5

If you’re worried about this hydrophane opal being mistaken for a
lab-created opal, just put it in water for a while. It’ll turn
transparent until it dries out. I haven’t seen a lab-created opal
that responds to immersion the same way.


#6
I saw the Orchid Question about the Welo Opal and figured I'd take
a  quick moment to point folks over to a GREAT resource: 
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/o6 

Thanks for that referrence, I could spend years rooting around in
there, and there is some discussion of Welo opal value. I do wonder
more from a jewelers standpoint what the thoughts are.

If you're worried about this hydrophane opal being mistaken for a
lab-created opal, just put it in water for a while. It'll turn >
transparent until it dries out. I haven't seen a lab-created opal >
that responds to immersion the same way. 

Interesting thought! I suppose you could also use that to show a
prospective buyer what happens when the opal gets immersed in water
for more than a few minutes.