You now have a gorgeous Ethiopian opal in your life!
Maybe its from one of my pieces or from something other awesome creator.
They are beautiful, sparkly and colourful. And sometimes you wonder how you haven’t been in a car accident because you were mesmerized by its majesty.
But maybe you are wondering how to take care of it, or worse, its changed colours on you and you’re not sure why.
First thing to know about Ethiopian opals:
- They are very sensitive to water. They are called the “living gem” because they soak up water and liquids like a sponge.
If fully immersed in water, or in a hot humid climate they can go a murky green/yellow/brown color.
- What can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen?
Dry them off if they get wet right away.
Do not wear your opal in the shower, while washing hands, doing dishes, sitting in your mini pool in the backyard with a glass of champagne (unless of course you keep it dry), jet skiing, shampooing your dog, or underwater cave hunting.
- Read number 2 again, because sometimes, the color will return and at other times it will not come back at all, so be diligent and show it the love you would give to a baby bunny, or squirrel.
You may then wonder, WHY does it change color?
Lets talk about the really cool science and origin of Ethiopian opals.
They were only discovered in 2008 in the Wollo Province of Ethiopia. They are sometimes referred to as Welo Opals or African Opals.
These opals are called “hydrophane” because of how porous they are and their ability to absorb water. Some can even gain up to %15 water weight!
But they can do something called dewatering. More on that to come.
This hydrophane property can cause some durability issues if not taken care of properly.
It can cause cracking or breakage, which nobody wants. So keep them dry!
They do not absorb water instantly. It may take several hours for the opal to absorb a significant amount of water. Hydrophane opal will dewater if allowed to dry, and the dewatering can occur in a few days to a few weeks. After dewatering, the opal will have the same appearance and properties as before the water was absorbed.
How were they formed?
Much of the welo opal is produced from a single area of stratified volcanic rocks. The main vein is an opalized rhyolitic ignimbrite up to one meter thick that overlies a base of clay. The opal likely formed as silica-bearing waters accumulated on top of the impermeable clay. Silica gel precipitated in the pore spaces of the ignimbrite and was later transformed into opal.
So basically, you are now an expert on Ethiopian Welo opals, you will also be an excellent opal parent and you get 1 gold star for getting this far!