Opals can be more difficult to work with than other gemstones due to their unique properties. One of the main challenges of working with opals is their softness and fragility. Opals have a Mohs hardness of 5.5 to 6.5, which is relatively soft compared to other gemstones. This means that they can be easily scratched or damaged if they are not handled with care.
In addition to their softness, opals are also prone to chipping and breaking if they are not properly cut and set in jewelry. Because of their unique properties, opals require special handling and attention during the cutting and setting process to ensure that they are not damaged.
Another challenge of working with opals is their tendency to dry out and crack if they are not stored and handled properly. Opals contain a high percentage of water, and if they are allowed to dry out, they can become brittle and prone to cracking. To prevent this from happening, opals should be stored in a moisture-controlled environment, and they should not be exposed to extreme heat or cold.
Despite these challenges, opals can still be used to create beautiful and unique pieces of jewelry. When they are properly cut, set, and cared for, opals can be a stunning and eye-catching addition to any piece of jewelry.