If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that frequent hand washing and sanitizing is important. Oh, don’t get us wrong: it always has been important, but now people actually believe it and, more to the point, DO it! What’s more, we don’t see that changing in a post-pandemic world. Frequent hand washing just makes sense for good health and hygiene, and it’s something we should be practicing now and forever after. The question is: what does all this hand washing do to our jewelry? Is sanitizer detrimental to our rings? And how can we ensure we are looking after our precious ‘forever after’ jewelry – wedding, engagement and other rings of value, be it sentimental and/or financial – while still looking after our hand hygiene and health?
Read on to get all the dirt on how to keep your jewelry clean, germ- AND damage-free, and in particular, how to look after your rings in a time of constant hand washing and sanitizing.
CLEAN VS DAMAGE-FREE
There are two parts to the COVID/jewelry conundrum:
- You want to make sure all those nooks and crannies in your rings aren’t harboring any germs you’ve just taken such great care to remove from your hands.
- But you also want to make sure you aren’t damaging them.
The good news is: you don’t have to choose. It’s not an either-or situation. You can keep your rings clean and germ-free without damaging them with just a little bit of extra thought. Even better news? Proper cleaning is actually key to ensuring your jewels are always looking their best, and more likely to last a lifetime.
BROAD OVERVIEW OF JEWELRY CARE DURING COVID
Sanitizer & Jewelry
The sanitizers recommended for use by the CDC are those that are alcohol-based. This is great news for your jewels and bad news for germs. Alcohol based sanitizers which boast more than 60% alcohol as the main germ-killing ingredient are harmless to most jewelry items, particularly those featuring gold, platinum and harder gemstones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. Take note though: soft stones like opal, kunzites, pearls, tourmalines, and emeralds should be kept away from alcohol (aka hand sanitizers)! In fact, experts recommend that you remove your pearl rings (and other softer stone dazzlers) altogether before sanitizing, and then waiting until your sanitized skin is completely dry, and the sanitizer completely evaporated, before putting them back on. Why so? The alcohol in hand sanitizer can change the surface of the pearl, with the potential to cause both a loss of luster and a change in color. White pearls, for example, might turn yellow if repeatedly exposed to such chemicals.
It is also worth noting that sanitizing your hands won’t necessarily do a very good job of sanitizing your rings. Just think of all the small crevices in that vintage setting, the grooves between your diamonds, the ins and outs of an engraved sparkler. If you’re wanting to keep your rings as germ-free as your hands, take the time to take them off and sanitize them separately and thoroughly. See our tips below on how to disinfect your jewelry safely.
Soap & Stones
Where alcohol-based sanitizers are generally benign when it comes to most types of jewelry, soap is another story. Some soaps contain abrasives that can damage the surface of jewelry and cause rhodium to be worn away. Even gentle, ‘safe’ soaps, which won’t damage rings, will leave a filmy residue on stones and metals over time, dulling the sparkle and shine. Bottom line? Choose your soaps carefully, and make sure to have some proper jewelry cleaner on hand for the occasional professional-grade clean to bring your jewels back to full sparkle. (An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, readily and affordably available online, is a game-changer!) See more tips below on how to safely soap your jewels on a daily basis.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR JEWELRY
Clean your jewelry vigorously and clean your jewelry often. Maybe not as often as you clean your hands, but certainly once a week – especially during the pandemic. (Just think about all the crud and gunk that can collect in the crevices of your claw settings, between stones, and in the grooves of your rings… Ack!)
The most commonly held advice for cleaning any kind of jewelry is simple: use hot water and a very mild dish soap to ensure the gentlest, least abrasive clean which won’t cause gems to become dull.
Now soap well, scrub all over, rinse, then inspect underneath all stone settings and inside any engravings. For dirt and stubborn luster-stealing grime created by things like hand lotion (another more frequent addition thanks to compulsive pandemic paw-cleaning), sunscreen, and soap buildup, use an old toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies.
After washing, allow your rings to dry completely before putting them back on: trapped moisture between ring and finger is a common source of skin irritation and goodness knows we don’t need any more reason for our hands to hurt! (Hello cracked, dried up old claws, courtesy of constant hand washing.)
Pro tip: When cleaning your rings, do it in a small bowl in the sink AND make sure your drain is properly plugged, just in case!
HOW TO DISINFECT YOUR JEWELRY
As with any cleaning these days, it’s not enough to just clean your jewelry. You need to disinfect it as well. While soap and water will physically remove germs and bacteria, they won’t actually kill it. Germ-killing is what we want.
As already touched on, you can safely disinfect your solid gold, platinum and harder gemstone jewels (diamonds, rubies, sapphires) using regular household isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as well as any alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Other forms of jewelry – pearls, emeralds and other softer stones – require a gentler touch.
And again, remember: rubbing hand sanitizer on your hands will not sanitize your rings! Germs can stay hidden, and healthy, on the inside surfaces and in any crevices, nooks and crannies. It is important to take your jewelry off and disinfect or sanitize them separately.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, and you feel tempted to just store your precious rings and other jewelry items in a safe until safer, post-pandemic times, remember this: like common hand hygiene, looking after your jewelry, keeping it clean and sanitized, shouldn’t be limited to this strange time in history. This should become common practice. Not only will your jewelry look better, think more sparkle and shine, it will be better looked after.
At Keezing Kreations we have decades of experience working with stones and metals creating custom jewelry items designed to spark both sparkle and joy. And while the pandemic might have changed many things, it hasn’t changed the human spirit and capacity for love. Love shown in the giving of jewelry that speaks from the heart. Our experienced jewelry designers know how to create, and look after, pieces that will not only provide the best value for your money, but also sentimental value you can’t put a price on.