Why Does Opal Turn Yellow? (Answer and Tips)

Last Updated on December 30, 2023

Your Opal’s strange color flashes and ethereal glow make it seem like pure magic. They are, however, notorious for rapidly fading. They frequently develop an unsightly yellow or even lose all color, and it’s not uncommon.

If you’re perplexed as why your opal turn yellow, keep reading and find out our top recommendations for opal care.


Why Does Opal Turn Yellow?

Your Opal might have turned yellow as a result of chemical contact, an insufficient water level, or unusual processing materials.

The majority of Opals available on the market are from Ethiopia. They are the most water-loving type of Opal, which enables them to take in a lot of water. Aside from water, they can absorb any substance that comes into contact with them.

That is why Opals can absorb substances or even the colors of any liquid that comes into touch with them. That is precisely why it’s not a good idea to clean Opals in ultrasonic cleaners, which are commonly filled with jeweler’s rouge.

Opals are also treated with stabilizing chemicals, such as resins. When this substance becomes discolored with age, it will alter the Opal’s color or turn yellow in most cases.

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Why did my Opal turn clear?

Your Opal may sometimes be completely transparent or clear. Because of the stone’s changing water composition, this is frequently the case.

The majority of the time, changes in water content cause an Opal’s color play to be disrupted. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including accumulation of dust, grime, or harsh cleaning.

However, when an Opal goes clear, it is due to changes in the water content. If your stone has recently been in touch with water, it may have absorbed a lot of it and thus the color has vanished. Also, when heated beyond a certain temperature, the Opal changes color and loses all of its moisture.

How to Clean yellow Opals?

However, nothing is certain to get rid of the yellow hue in your Opal stone, especially if it was caused by chemical contact. However, there are a few things you may try:

  • Soak in warm water. You may try soaking your stone in warm water for a few hours. Then take it out of the water and allow it to dry on its own, whether it takes days or weeks to complete. This approach is usually effective in restoring the color of your Opal.
  • Get it re cut. You may also have your stone re-cut to remove the discoloration if it wasn’t done before. In some situations, the discoloration is limited to the surface level. However, in most tragic situations, the discoloration is visible all throughout the stone.

How do I make Opals white again?

Accumulation of dirt or grime, particularly in the nape of the neck, can cause opals to appear hazy or unclean. This might result in their true color and iridescence being lost. However, the color of an Opal stone may be quickly restored.

Clean with Mild Soap. Clean your Opals with mild soapy water and a soft towel to return them to their original color. A soak in water may be used to clean and restore solid opals.

However, you should never clean doublets or triplets with this method. Clean your Opal only with a wet cloth and mild, unscented detergent if it’s a doublet or triplet.

Get it polished. It’s also possible to have your stone polished by a professional jeweler. A good polish can add shine and color back to your stone.

How To Care For Opals?

  1. Don’t use chemical cleaners. Only warm water should be used to clean opals (and never harsh chemicals, even cleaners). We like to dampen a soft cloth and softly wipe the stones.
  2. Avoid exposing opals to extreme darkness or glaring light. Consider the stone as a houseplant that needs the proper balance of elements in order to maintain its natural appeal.
  3. Don’t fully immerse your opal in water. The water composition in your opal should not be dramatically altered, but you do not want to fully immerse it in water. Remove your opal jewelry when bathing, washing hands, swimming, cleaning, and other activities.
  4. Store your opals in a sealed container. It will regulate humidity and minimize color changes due to fluctuations in humidity in the air.

Remember, Opal is a delicate gemstone that may be damaged. The surface of this stone is extremely permeable, which means it will absorb water, oils, or other pollutants easily.

Water makes up a considerable portion of an Opal’s chemical makeup. This stone’s water content ranges between 3 and 21 percent of its total weight. You should be cautious with your Opal stone around water, chemicals, or extreme environmental conditions in order to avoid color loss in the future.

Wondering how can you spot a fake Opal? Check out our guide.

Jackie Palmer is a Houston-based coin journalist and fashion enthusiast. She joined Jewels Advisor’s content team after years of experience as a content strategist, managing blogs and social channels for local stores. Jackie mostly collects and studies US coins produced during the 20th century and over the years, published hundreds of articles for multiple coin publications.