Opal is a composition of silica and certain amount of water, usually up to 10%. Its internal structure was a mystery until the invention of electron microscope, which revealed a lattice like pattern of silica spheres arranged in more or less orderly fashion. That is the case for precious opal which dazzles us with its play of colour, which in turn is created when light gets scattered and waves interfere with each other. There are many varieties of opal with main sources being Australia, Mexico, Brazil and recently Ethiopia.
Opal has amorphous structure and its hardness varies between 5 and 6.5 on a Moh's Scale. While wearing opal you should generally avoid, hard knocks, abrasion, immersion in liquids other than water ( household chemicals, oils etc.). To clean your opal it's best to use wet cloth or gently clean it under running water, you should avoid ultrasonic cleaners.
Welo opals have some additional characteristics and care requirements that are reflected in their price. Most of those additional features are connected to a hydrophane character of these stones. When exposed to water they absorb it in relatively short time and in most cases, it causes their body colour to become more transparent, plus after a longer period it may affect the play of colour as well. Some Welos will have their fire strenghtened but more will loose it, do not worry as that effect is temporary and they will regain their original appearance as they dry. This can take as short as an hour or as long as a couple of days, depending on atmospheric conditions and the size of the stone. Hydrophane character also means that you should keep them away from other liquids, like oils or coloured drinks as they may stain your opal. While considering a purchase please also note that many Welo opals have their fire strongest while under incandescent light or in direct sunlight and may not be as lively on overcast winter day, again this is not a case with all of them or a feature that they suffer from exclusively (opals from other localities will are sensitive to lighting conditions too) but we feel that potential buyers should know this. If you want to learn more about opal care you can follow this link to our article on the subject – Taking Care of Your Opal.
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