You love your jewelry.
But do you know how to care for it?
It’s ok. You don’t have to feel embarrassed. Most people are clueless when it comes to jewelry care!
When you buy a piece of jewelry it doesn’t come with an instructional care tag like your favorite cashmere sweater or silk blouse. But proper jewelry care is the number one way to protect your investment. So, today I’m sharing my list of “what not to do” while wearing your jewelry!
First on the list of what not to do while wearing your jewelry is something you’ll spend roughly 50% of your life doing: Sleeping.
Your bed might seem like a harmless place to wear your jewelry. After all, you’re surrounded by pillows and blankets! What’s the worst that could happen?
Because you move around while sleeping, the potential to sustain unintentional damage to your jewelry is actually quite high. Tossing and turning in the sheets can catch a ring prong between threads, pulling it open ever-so-slightly. You may not even notice a change when you wake up, but over time a stone could come loose or even fall out. You’re better off playing it safe.
Solution: Invest in a ring box or dish to keep on your bedside table. Get yourself into the habit of taking off your accessories each night before bed. Keep your jewels safe all night and they’ll be ready for you to wear in the morning!
Between abrasive soaps, slippery water, and the drain, the shower is one of the last places your jewelry wants to be.
Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that I have broken this jewelry care rule. In fact, I’d wager that most women wear their wedding rings into the shower. But your fine and fashion jewelry are both better off on the counter (or back in that special box you bought back in #1!)
This is because the ingredients used in soaps, shampoos, shaving creams, and scrubs can cause both temporary and long-term damage to your favorite accessories. Residue from these substances gets caught between the prongs of your rings, dulling the shine and making stones appear dirty. Furthermore, abrasive agents eat away the finish on your metals, requiring you to have them re-plated by a professional jeweler at more frequent intervals. If this happens to your fashion jewelry, which is generally not built for longevity, the plating could come off altogether after a dip in the shower.
Finally, we’ve all heard horror stories of people who lose their wedding ring down the drain. Even if it feels secure when you step into the shower, the combination of conditioner and water can cause a ring to slide right off your finger!
Solution: Save yourself the headache and make sure you’re totally naked before taking a shower.
Whether you’re taking a dip in salt water or a chlorinated pool, remove your jewelry first!
Any blonde who’s spent too much time in the pool on a summer day can attest to the caustic properties of chlorine. But did you know that it can also discolor your jewelry? Gold-plated jewelry responds particularly poorly to pool water, since the chlorine can strip the plating completely. When this happens it exposes the raw brass underneath, which can turn green in the chemicals.
Salt water and its close companion, beach sand, also pose a risk to your jewelry because of the small, abrasive particles of which both are comprised.
Solution: Leave your jewels at home. Or, bring along a small zippered bag made of neoprene or plastic that eliminates any risk of sand getting inside. Tuck it inside your beach bag, and you’re set!
Remove your jewelry before applying hairspray, perfume, aerosol deodorant, or spray-on sunscreen.
Much like the products you use in the shower, spray-on substances adhere to the surface of your jewelry, dulling the shine and getting stuck in small nooks. The damage that sprays cause is two-fold:
- Sticky sprays like hairspray can catch dirt, dust, and particles from the environment, which will then stick to your jewelry.
- Non-sticky sprays like perfume will cling to the surface of your metal jewelry and eat away at the finish or plating.
Solution: Keep all of these cosmetics in a place near your shower. That way, you can apply them first thing after washing up, before getting dressed or putting your jewelry on for the day.
My final jewelry care tip is to go [metal] accessory-free before you exercise.
Sweat isn’t a great substance for most types of jewelry to come in contact with. Plated metals are particularly vulnerable to the damage sweat can cause. The oil and salt that your skin produces during a heavy workout or long afternoon in the sun are both abrasive and adhesive, so the finish wears away while other damaging particles like dirt and dust easily get stuck. This isn’t the glistening goddess look you’d envisioned!
Unlike rules 1-4, this one has a couple of exceptions:
- Cloth jewelry: hemp, cotton, nylon, etc. (as long as you can wash it!)
- Stone bead jewelry like Mala bracelets, which are a popular accessory and meditation aid among yogis
Solution: Leave your jewelry at home before hitting the gym. Or, use the same type of bag from #3 to keep your jewels safe!