Routine hand hygiene is practiced every day as COVID-19 continues to spread. Soap and water is the preferred and more gentle way to clean your hands and eliminate germs, but many of us (as proof by the shelves at Target) have reached for hand sanitizer more than ever in our lifetime. The CDC recommends hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to effectively practice proper hand hygiene. Disinfecting solutions are certainly effective in protecting us, but what about our jewelry?
The quick answer by jewelry expert James Allen, is yes.
Harmful Ingredients to Rings
Depending on the type of metal, setting, and gemstone your jewelry may be more vulnerable to the ingredients active in hand sanitizer, soaps, and other disinfecting agents being used to keep your hands clean. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol (alcohol-based) solution has been supported by the FDA and CDC. However, the FDA found many hand sanitizer brands contaminated with methanol, a wood alcohol that is toxic to not just our jewelry, but our skin.
And if you’re thinking that alcohol-free hand sanitizer will keep your ring safe, think again. Chemical ingredients like chlorine and bromine found in alcohol-free sanitizer brands will still tarnish your jewelry.
These solutions over time can cause the following reactions:
- Residue build-up between the metalwork and gemstones
- Loosened ring prongs
- Diminished brilliance of gemstone or metal shine
- Tarnished metals
Effects of Hand Sanitizer by Ring Type
Soft gems like pearls, opal, and brazilianite can easily be scratched and be sensitive to harsh solutions. The durability of these gems can be protected by choosing a setting that covers the soft gem with lots of metal and try to remember to remove any soft gem jewelry when applying any kind of cleaning solution on your hands.
White gold contains a plating of rhodium used to protect the naturally white metal, giving the illusion of platinum. With constant exposure of hand sanitizer, the rhodium plating can deteriorate over time. An easy solution is redipping white gold jewelry every now and then to keep brilliancy and color.
Platinum and diamonds are both naturally tough metals and aren’t chemically reactive to alcohol, however, your ring could lose brilliancy by constantly exposing it to hand sanitizing ingredients. Non alcohol solutions like chlorine and bleach are corrosive to platinum and diamonds, causing loosening of your ring prongs.
Rose gold is a blend of pure 24K gold, silver, and copper. Like white and yellow gold, it shares the characteristics of mixed alloys but does not require rhodium plating. Rose gold is more durable than white gold, however vulnerable to powerful cleaning agents since it cannot be plated and renewed.
Gold will stand the test of time and solutions. It is a hearty metal that reacts very little to its surroundings, still, depending on the amount of gold metal in your jewelry, try to practice cleaning your gold jewelry once or twice a month. Polishing your gold will keep it looking like new, removing any dirt or build-up from sanitizing lotions.
Ring Hygiene 101
Hand sanitizer, wipes, and soaps are vitally important to our well-being and should be used with proper care and consideration. Be mindful, use proper hand hygiene, limit the exposure of chemicals to your ring as often as possible. Adopt the following best practices to sustain the longevity and integrity of your jewelry:
- Use gloves when cleaning with disinfecting solutions.
- Keep your ring off if your job requires you to “gel in, gel out.”
- Get in a habit of removing your ring when using hand sanitizer.
- Use soap and water (if it’s available) instead of hand sanitizer.
- Clean your ring weekly with very warm water, dish soap, and baby toothbrush to gently remove any residue in your setting.
At Zillion, we believe in tools that help protect your most prized possessions. Practicing good hand hygiene is a simple commitment to personal health and the well-being of your community. Together we can stay safe, stop the spread of germs, and protect your most valuable jewelry for decades to come.