Continued from page 1
Cutting and polishing is process by which opal is completed before setting into jewellery. A “rub” is stuck onto end of a “sop-stick” – a short piece of thin dowel used as a handle - with jewellers wax. Using a fine grit cutting wheel, and holding stone with dop-stick, stone is shaped and flaws and scratches are removed from stone.
The stone is then polished, usually on a leather wheel using jewellers polishing powder. Careful attention is paid to achieve best possible results, taking into account appearance of stone and retaining as much of its size and weight as is compatible with all other factors. With each touch of cutting wheel, cutter will reassess stone, checking appearance and colour as well as presence of any faults, making sure that maximum potential of stone is achieved.
Oval-shaped stones are still most popular, but some times, to achieve this shape, a lot of good opal may have to be cut away. In order not to grind away fantastic colour that nature has taken millions of years to produce, an opal may be left in shape in which it was found. These stones are called “free-forms,” and are becoming more popular as people realise how individual, personal and attractive these unique stones look once set in jewellery.
CARING FOR YOUR OPALS
Opal is a very delicate gemstone and it is important you properly care for it. Although solid opal does not require any special conditions, it is advisable to avoid impacts and knocks. Keep it away from direct heat and sunlight, and avoid accidental splashes with any chemicals.
Opals are softer and more fragile than most other crystalline gemstones. Be careful not to scratch or hit opals, especially those mounted in rings, and avoid wearing rings while washing up or doing gardening and housework.
Never clean your opal with jewellery cleaner of other harsh chemicals. Simply use water with a little vinegar in it and brush jewellery gently with a soft toothbrush, then rinse in clean water. Contrary to some belief, water will not harm solid opal. In fact, it is sometimes recommended that solid opal should be immersed in water overnight occasionally to maintain its water content, a recommendation that may or may not be true. However, doublets and triplets should never be immersed in water, as moisture may get in between layers, spoiling its appearance or causing glue holding layers together to dissolve.
Opals are composed of between 3% - 20% water and as such, should not be allowed to dry out or freeze.
When storing opal, avoid using plastic bags and dry storage conditions. Soft cloth bags with padding are ideal. If storing solid opal, take it out occasionally and wipe with a damp cloth or dip in fresh water.
That concludes part 4. In part 5 we learn about types and characteristics of some of major types of opal available today.
So unitl then,
Best wishes and have a great day
Stuart Bazga www.kulpunyaopals.com
Kulpunya Opals was established several years ago to provide the UK and Europe with a specialist supply of opals at great prices. We import directly from key suppliers in Australia with whom we have developed strong and long-term relationships. This ensures the products are always of the highest quality, and each represent excellent value.