This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

usa: $5 flat rate shipping

How To Protect Your Jewelry From Harsh Summer Elements

Summer Jewelry Care

picture of jewelry on beachy background

Well folks, it’s almost here! We’re officially entering that coveted time of year - summer! It’s time for school break, vacations, picnics, swimming, tank tops and sunshine.

There is so much that I love about this season, even in the blistering Tucson heat. While that tenacious heat fills the air here (bring on the monsoon season, Arizona!), I know that summer is so wonderfully different in different parts of the country. Growing up in the south, I loved how the vegetation was verdant and flowering all around (which inspired the Joy Collection). In San Francisco, summer brought fog and chilly evenings. Regardless, there are endless summer activities to keep us busy like swimming, hiking, biking, camping (or, glamping as I prefer these days), getting hands dirty in the garden, floating on the lake and in the ocean - the list goes on. There’s every reason to enjoy all the parts of this season in every part of our beautiful country.

But, if you're someone who’s inclined to wear your handmade jewelry year-round, it’s also helpful to understand how to best protect your jewelry against the - at-times - harsh elements that are present during these warmer, more active months.

Summer Elements & Activities Can Damage Jewelry

Summertime brings with it exciting outdoor activities and adventures, but it also exposes your favorite handmade jewelry pieces to potentially damaging elements. The warm weather often encourages us to head for the beach, take a dip in the pool, or participate in sports like hiking and biking.

Since summer is often synonymous with time spent outside, keep in mind that the following are all things that can damage your jewelry:

    • Sun Exposure & Temperature Variances - exposure to sunlight can create a tarnishing effect on metals like sterling silver, while heat and humidity will actually change the color of certain gemstones and metals. Subjecting jewelry to extreme variations in temperature can also be damaging to metals and stones as well. Not to mention, in colder temperatures, slight finger shrinking occurs which may result in a lost ring!
    • Lotions - sunscreens, moisturizers, and gels are often excellent protectors of our skin but what rests on and around our skin, not so much. An inherently greasy and/or sticky quality is typical of many lotions and this residue can easily work its way into the decorative nooks and crannies of any ring, bracelet, necklace, etc. While over time, this film can be damaging to the integrity of the metal or stone, most immediately, it will contribute to a dull, less lustrous appearance.
    • Insect Repellant & Sprays - aside from the fact that many of the chemicals present in insect repellants are far from safe - I’d even make the argument that they’re a no-no for use on your skin but that’s for another article! - they also create grimey build-up in jewelry the way lotions and gels do.
    • Sand - sand’s natural makeup is that of finely ground rock and mineral particles. Despite its granularity in size, its content is actually quite hard and coarse and for this reason, any interaction with sand, whether through excessive rubbing or digging, has the potential to damage metals and gemstones - especially softer ones. After all, sandpaper isn’t called sandpaper because it’s gentle on what it comes into contact with!
    • Salt Water & Sweat - both saltwater and sweat, with their obviously moist and inherently salty composition, are foes of jewelry. Not only can they compromise the appearance of your jewels, by rendering them dingy and cloudy, they can also compromise the integrity of your precious pieces by slowly corroding the metals - like rose gold, iron, and copper.
    • Chlorine - chlorine is a strong disinfectant, responsible for killing many unwanted bacteria, but that doesn’t mean its well-suited for your jewelry. In fact, not only does chlorine discolor metals, it also reduces the luster and polish of hard gemstones.  
    • Dirt - although dirt, itself, is not finely ground rocks and minerals the way sand is, it certainly houses a great multitude of rocks and other natural particles both hard and sharp. Digging in soil with jewelry on can subject your jewels to unwanted scratches as a result.

If you live in the desert Southwest, there are specific elements of our climate to account for. Pay careful attention to the heat, sunlight, and UV rays as they each can can affect certain gemstones, especially those prone to heat sensitivity like opals. Heat can cause gemstones to crack, fracture, or lose their color. Prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV rays can fade or alter the color of certain gemstones and organic materials. It's advisable to protect jewelry from direct sunlight and store it in a cool, dark place when not in use.

Prevention Of Damage To Jewelry During Summer

Ok, so we’ve identified the culprits. Now let’s get proactive about how to protect your jewelry around these elements! I'm all about prevention of damage and tarnish with jewelry. Follow these 4 simple tips care for your jewelry during the summer months:

Avoid Heat & Moisture

Do your best to store your jewelry in cool, dry places free from moisture. Keeping them out of direct sunlight and away from excessively damp areas (I’m talking to you bathrooms!) will improve their shelf life. It probably goes without saying but this also means no swimming or hot tub soaking with them on either! Packaging them individually is always a wise idea as well, especially when traveling as it will keep them from bumping up against one another and scratching, denting, or breaking.

Get Ready In Stages

When going outside for the day, always apply your moisturizers, sunscreens, bug sprays, etc before putting on your jewelry. Be sure to wait long enough for said lotion, spray, or gel to become fully absorbed before your jewelry goes on. This will lessen the likelihood that these pieces become “gunked up” with excess residue. When the day is done, remove your jewelry before washing up and applying night lotions and creams.   

Clean & Polish

You ought to clean and polish your jewelry every 3 to 6 months, but during the summer months, when jewelry is exposed to particularly harsh elements, it’s helpful to break out the polishing cloth and fine jewelry-specific cleaners to give your pieces some extra TLC and shine. I like to start by washing my jewels gently in warm water with mild dish soap, then using the dips in my jewelry cleaning kit to get my pieces back to their sparkling, shiny selves! For more info, check out my blog post on handmade jewelry care!

When In Doubt, Leave It Out!

If the activities on your agenda are really threatening to your precious pieces, the best way you can protect your jewelry is to simply not wear it. I know it’s never ideal to go through a day feeling bare, especially when our jewelry is such a crucial aspect of our self-expression, but if the event calls for excessive exposure to any of the above culprits, go ahead and give your jewels the day off.

Tips For Traveling With Jewelry

Summer is synonymous with travel. Whether you're taking a road trip or flying to your destination, you'll want to pack your jewelry with some amount of care. Here are some tips for traveling with jewelry:

  1. Carry your jewelry in a small pouch or case: To prevent tangling and damage, it's best to pack each piece of jewelry in a separate compartment. A soft fabric-lined pouch or compact travel case will help protect them from scratches. Or, store each piece in its own zip baggie to provide protection from tarnish and damage!
  2. Packing valuable pieces in carry-on luggage: Keep expensive or irreplaceable items in your carry-on or personal item bag, where you can keep an eye on them. This will also help prevent loss or theft.
  3. Pack only the jewelry you need: Limit the number of pieces you bring with you by selecting versatile options that can easily be dressed up or down.
  4. Remove jewelry before participating in outdoor activities: Hiking, kayaking, swimming, and other outdoor activities can expose jewelry to rough surfaces that can scratch or damage them.
  5. Clean your jewelry before and after traveling: To restore its sparkle, clean each piece with a soft cloth before packing it away for home travel.

I really like to only bring a few essential pieces with me when I travel. Since all of my Lila Clare Jewelry pieces are versatile, it's easy to narrow down the ones to bring. Following these tips can help ensure that your precious items remain beautiful and undamaged while on vacation.

By following these simple tips and taking good care of your favorite botanical jewelry pieces throughout the summer months, you'll be sure to enjoy their beauty year-round without unnecessary wear-and-tear caused by harsh weather conditions.