Cottage season in Ontario has arrived and soon we’ll be frolicking on beaches, in lakes, rivers, and streams as our Canadian summer heats up. Canadians welcome the arrival of summer so we can enjoy the beaches, lakes, rivers, and streams, but from our perspective, we know that summer can be hard on jewellery. From cold to heat, sand to sunscreen, here are some ways you can protect your jewellery from the hazards of summer.
Hazard #1: Cold Water
The water in lakes, rivers, and streams isn’t going to harm your jewellery. It will help you lose it instead. As a simple lubricant, water can make it easier for rings to slip off fingers. Cold water causes extremities to shrink, making it even more likely that a ring can slip away without you noticing. And as any LOTR fan knows, a ring slipping off a finger can be disastrous.
Hazard #2: Hot Water
You might not have a natural hot spring nearby, but many Canadians will spend part of their summers relaxing in hot tubs. We strongly advise customers to avoid wearing jewellery while enjoying their hot tub experience. Chlorine in general is not good for jewellery. Hot tubs often have higher levels of chlorine and the addition of heat accelerates the damage chlorine can cause. White and yellow gold react with chlorine. If the chlorine concentration is high enough your gold jewellery can turn green. More harmful is the invisible chemical reactions between your gold and chlorine that causes your jewellery to become more brittle as chlorine.
Hazard #3: Pool Water
Everything we said about chlorine affecting jewellery in hot tubs can also happen in regular swimming pools. Chlorine levels are usually lower in swimming pools, but people spend more time in pools than they do in hot tubs. Your gold and silver jewellery can still be damaged by exposure to chlorine in swimming pool water. Do you have a saltwater pool? It might be better for you but your jewellery still isn’t safe. Salt water is still corrosive for jewellery.
Hazard #4: Your Garden
Gardening is one of the joys of Canadian summers but it can have a one-two punch on jewellery. The first hazard is just simple abrasion. Digging around in soil can be damaging to the finish on rings. A second knock-out punch can be delivered to your rings by impact damage that can weaken the fittings that hold in gems. A hard enough bump can even knock a stone out of its setting. For those of you with strong grips, you can also bend a ring out of shape when tightly gripping garden tools like pruning shears. An out-of-round ring may also have loose settings so you can still lose a gem even without impact damage.
Hazard #5: The Beach
If there’s one thing we know about sand is that it gets everywhere. Sand is abrasive and can have a significant effect on plated jewellery, whether it’s gold-plated, rhodium-plated, or vermeil. This isn’t limited to the metals: even gemstones can be affected by sand abrasion. Harder gemstones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires should be fine, but softer stones like opals, topaz, and amethyst can be damaged by sand abrasion.
Hazard #6: Outdoor and Sporting Activities
Even if you’re nowhere near water, outdoor sports can be hard on jewellery. Being outdoors means sun exposure can weaken glues in jewllery. Impact damage from volleyball, soccer, baseball, or any other sport can cause damage to ring settings and even dislodge gemstones. Necklaces and bracelets can become snagged on objects and break if you’re out on a hike or participating in sporting activities. Also consider that as you’re sweating you’re exposing your jewellery to salt which is chemically damaging to the metals. Another consideration is that an injury to your hand or arm or a bee or wasp sting can cause swelling so severe that it may be necessary to cut a ring off to prevent further damage to your finger.
Hazard #7: Moisturizers and Sunscreen
These products might be good for our skin to help ward off sun damage but there are a variety of chemicals in these products that can be harmful to your jewellery. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that jewellery should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off on a daily basis to avoid exposing your jewellery to “common” personal care products such as body spray, perfumes, and hairspray. At the very least, these products can cause a build-up over the surface of your jewellery causing pieces to lose their lustre. The chemicals in these products can react with the materials in your jewellery, sometimes causing permanent damage to the piece.
Three things you can do to keep your jewellery in tip-top shape this summer:
#1: Take it Off
We know this sounds really obvious, but every year we repair jewellery that’s been damaged in some way due to summertime activities. When a customer comes in having lost an engagement or wedding ring, we share the feelings of loss. It’s not a joyful occasion for us to have to replace a piece of irreplaceable jewellery. Taking off your jewellery avoids the vast majority of risk that summer activities can bring.
#2: Get it Cleaned
Sometimes chemical reactions can happen really quickly. Chlorine can cause damage to jewellery in a very short time. Other abrasives and chemicals do their damage over a longer timeframe. Regular jewellery cleaning can remove chemical residues and abrasive particles, keeping your pieces clean can minimize damage from external sources.
#3: Inspect and Insure
If you’re concerned about the shape of your ring’s settings, bring your ring in for an inspection. We’ll be able to tighten up any loose settings that could lead to gemstone loss if unaddressed. While losing jewellery is something we all want to avoid, it may be worth considering jewellery insurance for your most precious pieces. Homeowner insurance often doesn’t provide sufficient coverage so we recommend speaking to an insurance professional.
We love summer. As Canadians, we revel in the warm weather and want to enjoy every minute of it before we’re plunged back into the cold and darkness of winter. We want you to enjoy your summer and for you and your jewellery to get through it unscathed. Come visit us to keep your existing jewellery in great shape and while you’re here, check out some of the newest styles for this summer.