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To wet, or to dry

I’m curious to know what others would do with these?
They were all listed as fire opals originally, from various locations.
They stay a solid colour, middle one did a day in water, the clear one had a week, they don’t appear to get damaged either way, wet or dried out.
A couple are Contra Luz, but most have no colour inside them at all.
I’ve a dozen or more like it, some yellow and orange ones too, all living in a water container now, and I’d rather have them in display pots.
What would you do with them, and/or am I missing somehing?

I’ve searched online, most info refers to Hydrophane Opals and colour loss due to water either being to wet or dry. I’ve found nothing that matches these stones anywhere.

I’d put them in my fish aquarium.

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Oh great! More decisions, a goldfish in a bowl, or a 5ft tank full of guppies?
Now where’s my Idiots Guide to Freshwater Aquariums? :rofl:

Not sure were the “Fire” descriptor came in since they do not have the orange to red body color associated with fire opals.

However, I am very interested in the Contra Luz opals you mentioned since I do not yet have any of those in my collection.

FYI: The one on the left looks more like an exceptionally fine milk opal. One I would consider buying for my collection.

The one on the right is reminiscent of some hyalite opals I have seen. You may want to test it under UV to see if it glows green.

These do not look to have any particular prismatic fire…so you’d value them as fire opal, but they are not, as someone else said, the right color for fire opal, which is yellow to orange to red in color. The milky ones are just opal base without any fire that I can see, so not worth much. The transparent stone is worth something as a transparent faceted stone, but it is a weak and brownish yellow, so not worth much. I don’t see any contraluz fire in the light that you’ve used to photograph them, so that issue may make a difference in price, but still, I can’t see these being highly desirable. Now if there is some fire somewhere inside them, they might be cut to reveal it, but the chances that the cutter missed that are slim to nil. -royjohn

None of the 3 pictured are Contra Luz, but all like water.
The ‘milk opal’ is a Faroe Island opal, it likes water too, the pic below was taken friday morning.

This pic was taken this morning.

I just noticed, I got the ‘Milk Opal’ is upside down, in this pic, it has two visible brownish inclusions. It weighs 6.34cts when wet, this morning it’s down to 6.30cts, it could drop a little lower, but it takes little water or time to make it transparent again.

The other is Mexican, it will dry out eventually, but it could take a few weeks. None of them pictured fluoresce under any wave length I have available, 254, 365, 395 or 405mn. UV was one of the first things I tried.

You’re right, there is no fire in any of the ones pictured, you can get orange/red flash from the back facets, but that’s about it. I like how they look, if I could just keep the water content in them, not so impressive being opaque white sitting in gem pots, which was the reason for the start of the thread.

If you like the wet look, it might be worth experimenting with oil, wax, or resin.

The typical process for opals that come from Queratero in Mexico is to let them dry out for several months or longer on a sunlit windowsill. Those that do not crack or go milky can a be sold. Trapped water molecules have a lot to do with the appearance of opal, and apparently yours do not retain the water necessary to make them translucent and/or give them fire. It is pretty typical for opal to be displayed in jars filled with water and having a curvature that magnifies the stones within. It is also typical for the savvy buyer to ask to see the stones outside the vials of water. Fire opal, the kind with no play of color which is faceted for its color, should be displayed and sold dry for the obvious reason you have seen. I don’t know of any way to seal in the water reliably. I would chalk this up to experience and go on to enjoy other stones and to educate myself further. Ethiopian opal, interestingly, loses its play of color when wet, but regains it when it dries. That’s quite disconcerting when you start to cut one and the fire all disappears! -royjohn

I could experiment with a few bi coloured (orange/white) Mexican ones I have and see if they’ll take it, but it’d be a shame to ruin the Faroe Island ones, I’ve spent most of the weekend trying to find facted ones, not found any at all, cut or otherwise. Very little out there about Faroe Island Opals.

i guess you noticed, I wasn’t particularly savvy when I started this hobby, but learning all the time, reading what I have on opals crazing when they dried out, I was quite surprised this don’t, I’ve dried them out and soaked them a few times. I’ve an orange one that crazed, but it was like that when I go it. But it is fun watching them do it.

Until I find a viable solution, I’ll dry them all out again, put them where they ‘live’, in gem pots. Wait for an other issue with something else :slight_smile:

Thank you both @rlynch @royjohn for the suggestion, much appreciated .

These are most likely faceted Ethiopian origin opal. The specific term you are looking for his hydrophane, meaning they are water-loving and absorb water. Unfortunately they will also absorb oils, which will permanently damage them. A much faster reaction can be achieved by using denatured alcohol or acetone, however be careful if you suspect they are dyed because either will damage the material.

They are Hydrophane, but the small white one is from the Faroe Is, the larger one is from Mexico. The Mexican stone is still drying out, but the Faroe Is one only took two days, and it dropped in weight from 6.34ct to 6.29ct, if my math is right, under 1% weight difference, not a lot of water to take it from opaque to transparent.
Still, neither show any colour, so no good for jewellery, but fun for a collector to play with :slight_smile: