Fact or Fiction? Opal Myths and Misconceptions

There are many myths about opals, and customers often ask me about them.  Here are a few of the most common myths we hear about. Maybe you have heard them, too?

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Opals need to be conditioned with oils or lotions.

This is a myth! Opals don't need to be treated with oil to keep them looking their best. Customers often tell me that their grandmothers told them to rub opal rings on their noses or foreheads, because the oil from their skin would help protect the opal. Another customer recently told me that she heard that opals should be rubbed with skin lotion. These are all myths! When an opal is polished, it is sealed.  Adding oils or lotions will not add life to your opal.

Opals can be bad luck.

Opal is the birthstone for October, so many customers have come to believe in the superstition that it is bad luck to own an opal when you are not born in October.  I have also heard that it is bad luck to buy an opal for yourself.  No matter when you are born or who buys the opal, this amazing stone does not bring bad luck to its owner.  Take it from me, The Opal Man, I was not born in October, and I buy opals for myself all of the time.

I can't wear my opal in cold weather.

Being located in Wisconsin, where the winter temperatures can get very low, we hear many customers express their concern for wearing opals out in the cold.  Opals do not mind the cold as long as they are not being directly exposed to frigid weather, such as below zero temperatures.  However, exposing your opal extreme fluctuations of heat may cause the opal to crack due to it expanding and contracting with the heat.

Opals need to be stored in water to prevent cracking.

This myth may have originated from the fact that wetting a cracked stone will hide the defects temporarily.  Australian Opal is actually non-porous, meaning nothing can get into the stone, hence, adding water to it will effectively do nothing for your stone.  Keeping unpolished opal, however, will keep the opals looking bright and really show off the colors within the stone.

That's a fire opal right?

This is a question we hear a lot at The Opal Man, and often times, said customers will be pointing at an Australian Opal.  Now, there is opal that is also known as fire opal, and it is Mexican opal.  This type of opal is almost amber in color and has flashes of red, green, and orange.

Fire is also a term that we use in the trade to describe the amount of flash that is within a stone.

Opals are very fragile.

There are many customers, and visitors, that tell us that opals are a very fragile stone because that's what they have been told by several sources.  Yes, opal is more fragile than most gemstones but it is not as fragile as people think.  Opal is roughly the same hardness as glass, and depending on the material, some opal is even tougher than that.  Wearing opal is no different than wearing a piece of jewelry made with hand-blown glass.

The Opal Man never sleeps.

Yes, that is the store light on at 2a.m. and The Opal Man, Dennis, is hard at work on making some amazing new opal pieces.  It's times like this that make people think that The Opal Man does not sleep.  What you don't see is him taking a quick cat nap in his chair between sessions on the stone cutting wheel.

Make sure to say "hello" to the man that sometimes sleeps, Dennis, next time you are in.

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