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Sun, Sand, Hand Sanitizer. Is your jewelry safe this summer?

Sun, Sand, Hand Sanitizer.
Is Your Jewelry Safe This Summer?

It's summer, which for a lot of us means sand and surf. It also means a lot of hand sanitizer for all of us.
Now is a good time, then, to review some best practices to keep your jewelry bright and clean and safe while we keep ourselves safe.

Sand is easy. It's mostly made of quartz and quartz-related minerals and clocks in at around 7 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Check out this link to the Gem Society.
for specific stones, but diamonds, rubies, sapphires, topaz, emerald, garnets, etc. will be just fine. Anything at 7 or less hardness on that list could possibly be scratched by sand. The lower the number, the softer the gem. And as always, be careful not to lose your pieces. The beach, and ocean especially, has claimed many a shiny jewel.

Ocean photo from a drone Jane Bartel Jewelry
Most hard gemstones are fine when it comes to hand sanitizer. It will leave a residue buildup over time, but it's nothing a little soapy water won't fix. The best way to clean most stones is a gentle scrub with a soft toothbrush (not the harder bristly one you put in your mouth) and some suds. Keep the water temp at tepid or lukewarm because some stones don't play nice with heat, although in fairness that probably won't be an issue with water because your hands will burn off, but let's stay on the safe side. The soap should also be fragrance free.

Hand sanitizer and your rings
Moving on to porous gems. These you definitely want to take off when hand sanitizing. This includes opals, amber, turquoise, onyx (a lot of that is dyed), pearls, mother of pearl, corals, and emeralds. Emeralds typically have a lot of surface reaching inclusions and are almost always treated with oils or other fillers, so avoid chemicals and heat. Add anything you think might be dyed to this list. Additionally, you want to be careful getting soap near these. Avoid, and aim for a gently damp cloth and dry immediately afterwards. Emeralds are the exception - they can handle a soft scrub and soap, just don't go nuts. While we’re on the subject of care, pearls and opals should also be stored with a little water cup nearby in their enclosed space to keep them hydrated. And for the love of Pete don't get perfume or any other hairspray or spray anything even near a pearl. It will ruin that luscious pearly essence. Pearls are always the last thing to go on, first thing to come off.

Opal stud earrings by Jane Bartel Jewelry
Repeated baths in alcohol or chlorine-based sanitizers aren't good for any metals, really. If you're only out and about occasionally go for it, but I'd recommend at least giving the pieces a good rinse when you got home. If you're out all the time, take the piece off. Frankly that should be the recommendation in general, just take it off when you sanitize then put it back on. Obviously, that won't work for everyone because we want to wear our pretty things and might not have a safe pocket for them, but any time you use hand sanitizer, give them a gentle scrub when you get home to get that residue off. The less time metals spend with that stuff on them, the better.

 When it comes to spreading Covid-19, a regular ring cleaning schedule with soap (depending on the stone) should be just fine. No one is going to go licking your ring. And everyone should clean their pieces more often regardless, pandemic or not, because let me tell you they can get nasty. Especially earrings. That ear schmutz will eventually tarnish whatever metal is in your ear if you leave them in all the time, so clean weekly, preferably, but definitely monthly because blech. And really, what's the point of having a diamond that doesn't sparkle?

Gold and Diamond Stacking rings by Jane Bartel Jewelry
Happy summer and stay safe out there! ⛱ Let's connect @janebarteljewelry