Moisture And Color Play In Opal


Color Play In Opals

The colorful flashes that you seen in an opal is a big reason for the popularity of the gemstone. It is important to understand that not all opal varieties are supposed to show the color play effect. Fire opal is a type of opal that is at its best when it is mined in Mexico, some amount of fire opal is also found in Brazil. The gemstone has a yellow to orange to reddish-orange color, it is amazing and has always fired the imagination of top class jewelry designers. Fire opal does not show the color flashes that we just talked about, the gemstone is valued based on its color, transparency and size. We might mention here that fire opal from Mexico does attract a premium. Pink opal is commercially mined mainly in Peru, the gem shows a fine pastel pink color and is devoid of any color play effect. 

opal gemstone color play
color play effect on opal gemstones

Observe the two images of the Kaisilver RG211 diamond and opal ring shown above, take a moment to notice the colorful pattern seen on the gemstone. Color play is an optical effect seen in opals, it is not a fixed pattern that remains constant. If you observe an opal gemstone ring from different angles, the color play effect changes dynamically. This is basically because the colorful specks are optically formed. We will now explain how opals get their color play property. We have kept technical jargon to the minimum so we encourage you to read the information. 

Most gem lovers are not aware that, opal actually contains a small amount of moisture. The structure of the stone is made up of microscopic spheres that are tightly packed together. The moisture is trapped inside the spheres, they play an important role in determining the beauty and price of the gem. It is the refraction of light caused by the moisture that delivers those amazing colorful flashes. A change in the direction (angle) of the light changes the degree of refraction, this is what causes a change in color or position of the flashes. You now know how the color play effect happens in opals, let us see how this phenomenon calls for some caution when the gemstone is worn, cleaned or stored. 

We all know that moisture can evaporate when exposed to heat. It is therefore obvious that opal gemstones should not be exposed to heat. Strong chemicals,  detergents and acids can all corrode a number of gemstones including opal. You might be interested to know that, rough Australian opal before it is cut and polished, is often kept soaked in water. When cleaning jewelry that has opal gems, use some clean water with a few drops of very mild liquid soap. Soak the jewel for no more than a minute in the water, use a very soft brush to take off any grease or dirt that might be stuck to the under side of the gem. Quickly rinse in some clean and cool running water - that is all that should be required. If you feel that your opal jewelry needs much more effort to clean it, take it to a professional jeweler and request for help. Let the jewel dry on its own and do not use a blower or hair dryer to hasten the process.

Kaisilver: The information in this report has been compiled by the experts from Kaisilver, the leading online high end Custom Made Jewelry provider from Thailand. You can email the support team at with any queries that you might have.