Topics: Beading

I have some opals stored in glycerine oil. They have been in oil since the 1930s. Must they stay in the oil or can I put them in cage bails?
- Terri
Since these ''floating opals'' have been stored this way for so long you may find removing them from the oil will not give you the same appeal as they have for so many years. Since opal is a porous stone, you run the risk of the oil having leached into the stone material, discoloring it once it hits the atmosphere.

If you really want to remove them, it would be best to consult a professional jeweler as the cleaning involved is tedious and needs to be done with great care so as not to damage this soft stone. If you remove the opals, care must be taken when storing the opal once in place within your design. If you live in a humid climate, the opal should be fine but if you have a dehumidifier in the room or live in an arid climate, storing the opal design in a bag with a damp piece of cotton or towel is advisable. Also, do not store the opal near a heat source and keep in mind that opals do not do well with sudden temperature changes.

If you are willing to keep the opals enclosed in the bottle of oil, and assuming the container that holds the opals and glycerine oil is a small glass bottle with or without a bail, it might be best to seek out a type of wire cage and bail to hold the bottle or use half-round wire to create a snug fit around the curve of the bottle and upwards to form a wrap and ring to attach to a premade bail.

- Sandra Lupo, Metalsmith, Jewelry Artist and Instructor

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