While we are currently in a state of near-lockdown due to the coronavirus, one of the most important things to remember to still do is to wash your hands as much as possible. This is still a crucial step in avoiding catching the virus, and one that the government continues to recommend. Whether that’s with soap and water, or hand sanitiser (with at least 60 per cent alcohol content), we must all keep it going.
Washing your hands more can have certain side effects, however, including drying out hands and in many cases, dulling or stripping rings you wear on your fingers.
So what’s the best approach in protecting your jewellery amongst all the hand washing?
Protecting demi-fine jewellery
‘In these uncertain and unprecedented times, it truly is the moment to appreciate everything that fills you with love and joy,’ say Sheena and Natasha Appadoo, founders of demi-fine jewellery brand Stellar 79. ‘Wearing jewellery has the instant ability to lift your spirits, no matter what you are doing or where you are.’
Many brands such as Stellar 79 use materials such as 18k gold vermeil, which Sheena and Natasha say is best to remove prior to hand washing if at all possible: ‘When washing your hands with soap and water, you can keep your rings on whilst you do this, but we advise taking them off beforehand if possible to maintain the longevity of your jewellery.’
In general, as mentioned, it’s best to remove jewellery to ensure it’s protected. However, certain metals and stones react differently, and may be more hardy or require extra special care.
‘Some may be particularly concerned about their diamond rings,’ Sheena adds,’but be rest assured that diamonds are the hardest-known mineral and the most durable hard-wearing stone out there.’
Protecting fine or gemstone jewellery
Got a high-end gemstone on your finger? We spoke to Laura Lambert, founder and CEO of Fenton & Co, about these premium materials and stones.
‘Washing your hands often with soap is great, but can cause a layer of soap and dirt to build up behind a gemstone,’ she says. ‘If your gemstone is looking a bit dull, soak it in some lukewarm, soapy water to soften the layer of dirt, then use a soft toothbrush and some tepid soapy water to gently scrub either side and behind to bring the gemstone back to its sparkling best.’
‘In times of crisis it is inspiring to look at beautiful things that remind us that life can be beautiful.’
Gold and platinum
Luckily, most hand soaps will not affect gold and platinum, and alcohol-based sanitiser won’t have a detrimental effect on gold. Avoid chlorine-based sanitisers, which can lead to discolouration or brittleness in the metal.
Sapphires, garnets, aquamarine and rubies
As with gold and platinum, hand soaps and alcohol-based sanitisers won’t affect your garnets, rubies, aquamarine or sapphires, but chlorine-based sanitisers will. Alcohol-based sanitisers could cause a filmy residue layer on the surface of the stone, but this is easily cleaned off with tepid soapy water and an old toothbrush.
Emeralds are slightly less hardwearing, and thus you should avoid using hand soap and sanitiser when wearing them. Both can strip the emerald of the colourless oil found in the gemstone, meaning you should remove your emerald rings before washing your hands in any way.