What is Ethiopian Opal?

What is Ethiopian Opal?

What is Ethiopian Opal?

Ethiopian opal, also called Wollo opal, is one of the rarest and most unique opals on the market. Unlike Australian precious opal, which produces a play-of-color in a variety of formation and patterns, Ethiopian Opal has an amazing, firey color-play that shows directly within the stone as opposed to through or across its face. The black matrix can range from transparent to opaque, but it always allows the light in to reflect each stone's unique color pattern through its body.

The vast majority of Welo opals have a hardness rating of 5.5-6 on the Mohs scale, making it slightly softer than most gemstones used in jewelry, such as topaz and quartz. With that being said, they are not as soft as other opal varieties such as Peruvian or Mexican opals and can handle normal daily wear with moderate care. Over time, harsh activities and improper care can damage the internal structure of an Ethiopian opal and therefore damage its ability to exhibit its beautiful play-of-color. Also, without appropriate protection, your Ethiopian opal may be more susceptible to abrasion or scratching from hard surfaces that may cause dulling, dings and chips.

Ethiopian opals are mined deep in the ground and have absorbed a great deal of water. You may notice your Ethiopian opal ring stone looking cloudy or opaque at times. This is normal. However, a quick 15-minute bath in cool water will brighten it up, just like magic!

Ok, so we've established that Ethiopian opals make for a great option for a beautiful and unique engagement ring. But before you decide to go with a ring containing one of these stunning gemstones, it is important to know what type of care is needed to maintain the look of your ring to keep it looking shiny and new.

One of the most important properties of Ethiopian opal is that it generally does not need special care. Ethiopian opals are often hydrophane opals, meaning they will eventually absorb water and lose its color play when placed in strong sunlight for an extended period of time. We recommend not to wear your Ethiopian opal ring while doing washing dishes or being around harsh soaps or chemicals. If you find your ring is not as shiny or bright as it once was, soak your ring in a mild soap and water solution overnight. Use a soft brush to remove any debris and gently dry when finished.

As with any opal jewelry, it is important to understand the natural properties of Ethiopian Opal to ensure proper care and use of your gemstones. Opals have a hardness rating of 5.5 - 6.5 on the Mohs scale, making them suitable for everyday wear when set in an appropriate mounting. However, opal jewelry is best suited for occasional wear due to its lower hardness. Like most gems, care should be taken when wearing Ethiopian Opal rings so that the stone does not come in contact with hard or abrasive surfaces or objects.

Welo opals take standard opal care. As a 7-6 on the Mohs scale of hardness, they are slightly softer than some other gemstones, so you still need to avoid abrasive cleaning chemicals, hard knocks and scrapes, and do not expose them to high temperatures (such as keeping them near a home furnace or car engine). They can be cleaned in steam or ultrasonic cleaners with no issue.

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