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How to care for Opal and Tourmaline

Born in October? You are lucky enough to have two birthstones; Opal and Tourmaline! These enchanting gemstones are beautifully unique, just like the wearer themselves. Learn more about the birthstones of October and how to take care of them below.





Durability: Very delicate

Mohs hardness: 5.5 – 6.5

The Mohs hardness scale measures the relative ease or difficulty with which one stone can be scratched by another. 10 represents the hardest stones (such as Diamond), and 1 represents the softer stones (such as Talc). However, the stages between the numbers aren’t so evenly spaced, meaning Diamonds at ten are in fact a lot harder than Corundums at nine.


Opals are very delicate gemstones that are usually not recommended for daily wear and should be kept for special social occasions instead. Extra care is required when wearing Opal jewellery as they are rather delicate and could easily break or scratched if accidentally knocked. Don’t let this put you off them though! When taken care of correctly, they are beautiful stones available in a spectrum of stunning colours.


Clean with warm soapy water

Using warm water and very mild soap is the best way to clean any gemstone, especially such delicate stones like Opal. It’s safe to use a toothbrush to clean most gemstones, however as Opal is so delicate and can be vulnerable to scratching, we would recommend using a softer brush.

Store in a padded cloth bag

Caring for Opal jewellery means looking after it even when it’s not being worn. If you’re storing Opal jewellery for a short amount of time, we recommend it is placed in a padded pouch or jewellery box. However, if you intend on storing it away for a longer period of time, place it in cotton wool with a few drops of water and into a sealed bag. Many opals contain water, meaning if they are stored in a warm and dry environment that can dry out and crack. A moist cotton wool pad will prevent water from leaving the stone and drying out.

Save wearing it for special occasions

It can be hard to resist wearing your beautiful Opal jewellery every day, but if you really want to keep it good we recommend saving it for special occasions. As a delicate stone, Opal simply cannot handle the small bumps and bashes of daily wear. Opals also don’t handle temperature changes very well, so make sure to keep it out of very hot or cold conditions.



How to care for opal and tourmaline


Durability: Very Good
Mohs Hardness: 7.0 – 7.5

Tourmaline is a slightly harder stone than Opal and it is considered to have a fair toughness on the Mohs scale. This means it is not as easy scratched as Opal and may be more suitable for daily wear. However, there are still precautions that you should take when wearing and taking care of tourmaline to keep it looking brilliant for years to come.


Do not store in direct sunlight

Whilst tourmaline tends to be fairly stable and isn’t affected by chemical exposure, it can still be harmed in heat. Tourmaline should never be stored directly under sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can affect the properties of the gem, causing colour fading and alteration. Be sure to keep your jewellery storage away from windows or areas that receive direct sunlight.

Keep it away from heat

Exposure to extreme heat over a period of time can also damage tourmaline jewellery by distorting its original colour. Sudden temperature change, also known as thermal shock, can also cause fracturing. It’s not advised to wear it in very hot conditions, so when on holiday in a hot country, keep it for the evenings!

Clean with warm, soapy water

Again, cleaning with warm soapy water is the safest way to clean most gemstones, and this is the case for Tourmaline. It is not advised to use ultrasonic or steam cleaning methods on the gemstone as this could damage the stone.


Gemstone Specialists

McGowans are specialists in Opal and Tourmaline, plus many more types of gemstones. Our knowledgeable team know exactly how to take care of your pieces to keep them looking good as new. If you’re looking to buy, or simply need advice, pop into one of our stores in Glasgow or Aberdeen and our friendly team will be on hand to help. We also offer a range of in house services to keep your pieces well maintained, including repairs, re-beading, re-modelling, engraving, re-sizing, cleaning and much more.