March 29th, 2020
Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Disinfect every surface.
The methods of keeping COVID-19 at bay can be tough on one’s hands, but if you’re careful, they won’t ruin your jewelry.
“Anytime you can take your jewelry off before doing deep cleaning, it’s best,” said Kyle Hartshorn, the manager of Cormier Jewelers. “Most hand sanitizers are pretty benign as long as they’re alcohol-based. But anything chlorine-based can break down some metals.”
Gold can withstand some abuse, and silver tends to discolor or tarnish when exposed to chemicals, but that can typically be cleaned away.
Hartshorn said precious and semiprecious stones may require special care and some, such as emeralds and opals, shouldn’t be exposed to cleaners.
Pearls are among the most susceptible to damage and should be treated like the fragile things they are, Hartshorn said.
“They can fade or change color and there’s nothing we can do about that,” he said. “Pearls should be the last thing you put on, after your hairspray and perfume, and the first thing you take off.”
Pearls and coral, which are organic materials, shouldn’t ever be exposed to harsh chemicals and hand sanitizers, he said.
Aside from those, most jewelry can be cleaned with a a soft toothbrush and a mild dishwashing soap, then rinsed thoroughly and dried before wearing, he said. With concerns about germs getting trapped on jewelry, the cleansing can help.
Wide rings and wedding bands can trap bacteria between the skin and the ring, and hands should be dried before putting them on. Hartshorn also recommends having a jeweler clean rings and other often-worn items every few months. Prongs and bezels can also be checked to be sure the precious stones stay in place.
While jewelry shops are shut down because of the pandemic, Hartshorn said he’s busying himself updating the store’s website and creating new designs. He’s mulling over making special pieces to celebrate when the pandemic is over and hopes people will get back to making discretionary purchases then.
He’s also pondering whether the folks who’ve had to stay at home with a significant other will be more or less inclined to put a ring on it when the isolation ends.
“And of course, nine months from now, I think we’ll see a lot of people shopping for push presents,” he said, referencing a possible baby boom and the new tradition of presenting gifts after labor and delivery.