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How To Protect Your Jewelry From Harsh Summer Elements

How To Protect Your Jewelry From Harsh Summer Elements

Well folks, it’s finally here! We’re officially entering my favorite time of year - summer!

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. In San Francisco, summer brought fog and chilly evenings. Regardless, there are endless 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 her valuable 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.

What are the culprits?

Being that 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.

Ok, so we’ve identified the culprits. Now let’s get proactive about how to protect your jewelry around these elements! Follow these 4 simple tips to keep your precious pieces protected and leave you with peace of mind.

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 cleaning compound every week or two to give your pieces some extra TLC and shine. At times, washing your jewels gently in warm water with an approved solution (like a few drops of mild dish-washing liquid) will do wonders to maintain the quality of the piece(s). Have your jewelry cleaned professionally at least once every year. The end of summer is a perfect time for that!

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 wonderful 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.

How do you keep your jewelry protected in the summer months??

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