Summer is here!
I don't know about you but I have been counting down the days for that longed for summer break.
Don't get me wrong - I love my job as a jeweller - so much so that I don't even really stop thinking about it even when on holiday. I know that people say thats bad, that you should have a total break, but I think about it in a different way...
I really relax and with that my imagination takes flight - I absorb shapes, sights and feelings from my surroundings in a different way - I get inspired by seeing new things - many a new jewellery collection has been born thanks to a holiday
BUT some of the things we like about summer may also have a negative effect on your gems and jewels...
so here's a quick checklist of suggestions to help you keep your jewellery tip top and sparkling this summer.
Top tips for caring for your jewellery whilst on holiday.
Travelling with jewellery
I mostly wear what I am bringing when I travel - Jewellery will only set off metal detectors if it's made from magnetic metals. This means that you don't need to remove good-quality rings, necklaces, bracelets and piercings if they're made from silver, gold or platinum.
Any extra jewellery I pack with care, ensuring that it is adequately protected. Depending on what you are carrying a good jewellery wrap is great but I generally use a hard cased box to ensure pieces are neither crushed nor scratched. (Plus you then have something in which to store those precious pieces whilst you are away).
I always carry my jewellery in my hand luggage to avoid the stress in case of lost hold luggage,
I am not a fan of storing jewellery in sealed plastic bags like some people recommend. They don't let the jewellery breath and can cause moisture build up which again will oxidize metals, causing tarnish / damage, reaction to the plastic of a Ziploc bag, or a reaction to the air in the bag. If you are following this (undeniably easy) route then do make sure to wipe the jewellery clean before putting away, pop a little desicant silica bag in to absorb any moisture (I save these up from other purchases for this very purpose) and do not leave your pieces in the bags for extended periods.
Sweat also causes similar moisture related reactions especially tarnishing of silver. Be sure to remove any pieces when taking part in activities or when sunbathing (who wants funny tan lines anyway?), and simply put your jewellery back on when you’re off for a beach stroll, out for lunch or a cocktail or two.
So how do sun, sea, sand & sunscreen affect your jewellery?
Be particularly careful with your gemstones as some are light-sensitive.
UV light (natural or artificial) can cause gems and minerals to fade in colour, especially when exposed to sunlight for long periods. Bright sunshine can also make them brittle and breakage-prone.
Below are some of the most common gems susceptible to bright light.
- Citrine, Smoky Quartz, Amethyst, Aventurine and other Quartz crystals can fade. Unfortunately, because of the presence of minerals such as manganese, iron, or titanium, Quartz cannot be kept under direct sunlight for lengthy periods of time without losing its beautiful hues
- Rose Quartz is one which fades particularly quickly. Under the right conditions Rose Quartz can fade to a white color within a year.
Berylis another mineral that will fade but slower than Rose Quartz
- Aquamarine can fade in sunlight especially if it has been heat-treated to intensify its color. Most aquamarine occurs in a very light shade of blue-green, often considered too light for many people, and is therefore often specially treated using a gentle heating process that intensifies the initial color.
- Kunzite is particularly sensitive and prone to fading.
- Opals are generally stable, but the heat from intense light can create fractures, known as “crazing.”
- Pearls, like opals, can dry and crack from excess heat produced by exposure to direct light.
- Emeralds - The oils within emeralds may dry altering the stone’s appearance or even causing cracking. Natural Emeralds all have inclusions and are often treated with oil, resin, or wax to fill these fissures, giving the emeralds a smooth and even surface.
- Like emerald, ruby and sapphire may be affected in the same way.
- Brown topaz gems may fade over time when exposed to light.
- Heat-treated zircon has been known to fade under direct light sources.
- Amber can darken with age.
- When dyed, coral may fade under direct light.
And don't forget to check your stone settings before travelling - There is nothing worse then worn claws giving way and your most precious gemstone subsequently dissappearing in the sea or sand. We recommend getting all stone set jewellery checked annually and retipping is relatively cheap so we advise servicing your jewellery regularly.Water, sea and pools
- Salt water and chlorine are harsh chemicals that can cause erosion.
- Exposure to pool chemicals could weaken precious metal and cause your jewellery to break, notably the springs in necklace and bracelet catches.
- Both salt & chlorine can cause silver to tarnish - see our blog for why, and how to clean tarnished silver, HERE
(An interesting side note about diet - silver reacts to anything that's sulfur–producing ...so If you've been eating food like garlic, feta cheese, olives (often associated with a mediterranean diet) when you exude it out your skin, it may have a direct reaction with silver turning it black).
Oh and as a general tip don't leave your jewellery in the bathroom...The humidity there will also encourage oxidisation and your jewellery losing its shine, and colour...Plus it is the most common place for people to forget their jewellery in hotels apparently
- Salt air will rust any sort of non–ferric metal like steel or iron to bits, and it will have a long–term effect on any jewellery.
- Wood, leather and other soft or absorbent materials like turquoise or coral will absorb the sea salt and air and eventually rot or go hard and brittle,. We definately advise removing (even before showering).
- No damage can come to a diamond ring at the beach (as long as it is in good condition) but again be cautious with softer gems.
- Matt silver is more susceptable to tarnishing than highly polished silver. The matt effect is achieved by creating a finely roughened surface which consequently tends to hold moisture and chemicals on the surface easier than on a polished piece thereby exposing it to these substances for longer.
- If jewellery does come into contact with salt water or chlorine, just rinse it off with clean water and pat dry.
- Don’t forget to check that your watches are waterproof before submerging).
- Going from strong sunbathing heat to shocking cooling water plunging may be too great a temperature change for your precious jewellery, so take care, And it can also result in changing finger sizes with the dire consequence of rings falling off.
- Durable materials like platinum and fine gold should be fine although salt can be especially harmful to low carat rose–gold jewelry because of the high copper content. Sea salt is very corrosive to copper, the alloy used to give red gold jewellery its colour, subsequently causing it to be affected much more than yellow gold, which has brass and silver in it.
- Sand is silica; a hard, abrasive material (the same material used to make glass). It can therefore ruthlessly scrape away at many surfaces.
- Whilst solid silver and gold should be fine it will especially wear off the surface of gold–plating, rhodium–plating, and vermeil. When coarse grained it can lead to scratch marks and other types of cosmetic damage and even has the potential to break functional pieces of jewelry such as clasps.
- - With gemstones, it depends on the hardness of the material. Harder stones like a diamond, sapphire, or ruby, are fine but softer stones, like quartz minerals (think amethyst or citrine), are much more likely to be damaged.
- - Pearls - yes they come from the sea but there they are protected by an oyster shell - take care not to scratch their soft outer layer on coarse sand and rocks. plus many pearls are glued in place and that glue can be suseptable to failure with heat, salt or chlorine. (we use a threaded or riveting technique to secure out pearls to avoid this failure but still advise caution).
- Whilst you may wish to protect your skin sunscreen will definately not do your jewellery any favours! Whilst not in itself corrosive it will dull the look of your jewellery plus speed up the deteriation of any plating. Both sunscreen and aftersun lotions can get stuck into the crevices of chains and around prongs, or behind stones, making both the metal and the gemstones appear flat and greasy. Remove any jewellery pre application and give it 10 minutes or so for the sunscreen to absorb into your skin before putting it back on.
- Side note - the same applies to insect repellants and perfumes!
The holiday nightmare of losing Jewellery
- Beware of forgetfullness! The absolute classic when you are being careful by taking off a piece to keep it safe and subsequently forgetting- in a pocket or on the towel (that is then flung in the air), in the hotel bathroom or bedside table.
- And finally when it's time to go home make sure to thoroughly check the following before leaving your accomodation...safe - bathroom - bedside table - any drawers - window sills - hire car
Wishing you all a wonderful summer