Why does an Opal turn Clear or Yellow?

While Opals sure are a mesmerizing sight and make beautiful jewelry pieces, they are quite fragile. Opals are easily susceptible to damage yet they are one of the most popular semi-precious gemstones in the world. Ever wonder why?

Well, of course, the wonderful color play of an Opal can catch anyone’s heart. Additionally, the healing properties, good luck, and a positive aura associated with an Opal are some things you wouldn’t want to miss. 

But Opals are usually notorious for quickly losing their color. They often turn into an ugly shade of yellow or even entirely lose color, at times. 

If you’re wondering why that happens, I’d suggest you to continue reading because it really isn’t some sort of a gemstone miracle. It doesn’t mean anything in particular and most of the time, you can easily restore the color. 

Anyway, let’s get right into it!

Why does an Opal turn Clear or Yellow

Why did my Opal lose its color?

As mentioned earlier, Opal is a fragile stone. The surface of this stone is highly porous. And that means your stone can easily absorb water, oils, or any contaminants in the surrounding. 

On top of that, a significant portion of an Opal’s chemical composition consists of water. The water content in this stone can range from 3 to 21 percent of its total weight. 

Now you may wonder what water has to do with the stone changing its color. Well, the amount of water in the stone alters the diffraction of light in the stone. As more and more water is absorbed by the stone, it begins to lose color.

In essence, your Opal stone may have lost its color due to fluctuations in its water content. The water composition of the stone is commonly affected by external factors such as humidity, heat, or chemicals.

In order to avoid the loss of color in the future, you should be careful with your Opal stone around water, chemicals, or extreme environmental factors. 

Why did my Opal turn clear?

Many times, your Opal may completely turn transparent or clear. This happens mainly because of the change in the water composition of the stone. 

The majority of the time, the color play of an Opal is disturbed due to fluctuations in its water content. At other times, this may happen due to the accumulation of dirt, grime, or harsh cleaning. 

However, when an Opal turns clear, it most definitely happens due to changes in the water content. If your stone recently came into contact with water, it may have absorbed lots of it and so, the color is not there anymore.

Or in some cases, when exposed to excessive heat, the Opal loses all of its moisture content and loses its color. 

Why does an Opal turn yellow?

Most Opals available in the market today are Ethiopian Opals. They are the most water-loving type of Opal and so have the ability to absorb a lot of water. 

But besides water, they have the ability to absorb anything that comes in contact with them.

And that means an Opal can absorb chemicals or even the colors of any kind of fluid that comes in contact with it. That is exactly the reason why it is not recommended to clean Opals in ultrasonic cleaners, which are often filled with jeweler’s rouge.

Chemical cleaners

Anyway, since Opals are overly sensitive, you need to be careful with the type of cleaners you use for them. Check the composition of the cleaners before you use it on your stones. Avoid using any colored cleaning fluids.

Stabilizing materials 

In addition to that, Opals are processed with stabilizing materials such as resin, at times. When this material starts changing color over time, it will result in the Opal changing its color or turning yellow, in most cases.

In short, your Opal may have turned yellow due to chemical contact, excessive or too little water content, or unusual processing contents. 

How to Clean yellow Opals?

Well, nothing is guaranteed to remove the yellow color of your Opal stone especially if it resulted due to chemical contact. But here are a few things that you can try:

Soak in warm water

Firstly, you can try and soak your stone in warm water for a few hours. And then remove it from the water and let it dry on its own, whether it takes days or weeks. In most cases, this technique should restore the color of your Opal. 

Get it re-cut

Other than that, you can take your stone to a jeweler and have it re-cut to remove the discoloration. 

In some cases, the discoloration is on the surface level only. But in most unlucky cases, the discoloration is all the way through the stone. 

How do I make Opals white again?

Opals may appear cloudy or dirty due to the accumulation of dirt or grime. This can cause them to lose their actual color and iridescence. But gladly, the color of an Opal stone can be easily restored.

Clean with Mild Soap

To make your Opals white again, clean them with mild soapy water and a soft cloth. Solid opals can be easily cleaned and restored by a soaking session in the water. 

However, you should never do that to doublets or triplets. If your Opal is a doublet or triplet, clean it only with a damp cloth and a mild, unscented detergent. 

Get it polished

Other than that, you can take your stone to a professional jewelry polisher. A good polish can help restore the shine and color of your stone.

How to Restore Opal Color?


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