Back to IGS | FAQ | Contact

Opals cracking in the cold?

A client in Wisconsin wants to ship me a couple of opals to make a piece for him and he had an interesting question:

‘Is it safe to ship opals in very cold weather?’

I haven’t had a problem with this YET.

However… Obviously it could be an issue, especially with ethiopian material which I have seen have up to a 10% weight change from very dry to very moist conditions.

So: Has anyone had opals break in transit due to extreme cold weather?

The only problem you may have with them cracking will be if they are exposed to extreme temperature changes. You should not have that problem as long as they are well insulated and wrapped. When you receive the package, let the package rest and adjust to the temperature change. There should be no problems. I ship opals and have them shipped to me all of the time. I have been doing this for years with no problems with cracking due to temperature but only to bad packaging by the shipper and rough handling by the postal service.
All the best in this venture.

Thanks Otter, as I said, in 22 years it hasn’t been a problem YET, I would never try to quench a stone of any kind from cold to warm or warm to cold, but as they aren’t my stones, I asked him to wait until April, it’s -15c right now, better safe than sorry.

1 Like

Good to be safe with Ethiopian opals. They can be extremely fragile and you never know what the shipping conditions will be like. Murphy’s Law tends to strike at the most inconvenient times when dealing with expensive or fragile stones in my experience.
I had a beautiful 90 carat black Ethiopian opal show up cracked in half in perfect weather conditions. Broke my heart. I have not cut it down as of yet.
Hope all comes out alright on your shipping.

I have had customers send me opal in small plastic Boxes sealed with water inside.
Also make sure the wrap the package well , so long as it dose not De hydrate ( I think thats the word) It will be OK

Definitely not a good idea here in Canada, the water would freeze and you would be f’d!

I have some opal from somaliland, I know you will say Somalialand :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:, somalia has all the germs that you can find in this world, but my people are nomadics tend to look after camels rather than gemstones.

1 Like

Those are nice dark opals. I did not think about opals coming from your part of the world but makes sense. Are they all dark like this?