COVID-19 has drastically altered the way people around the world live their lives. Many now find themselves working from home, barred from eating at restaurants, and substituting in-person visits with virtual hangouts.
But even in times of crisis, we still have nice things we want to hold onto. For many, their jewelry is one possession that lifts their spirits. However, new health habits such as increased handwashing and use of hand-sanitizer can cause concern among jewelry owners who worry it will tarnish their pieces. We’ll explain how you can clean jewelry during COVID-19 without risking damage.
Cleaning Hard Gemstones
If you own non-porous gemstones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires set in solid platinum or gold, the best way to clean your jewelry would be with a mild dish soap and warm water once every few weeks. However, with the current presence of COVID-19, you can also take additional steps to ensure a more thorough cleaning. Place your pieces in boiling water, and let them sit for five minutes to sterilize.
Using hand sanitizer alone on your jewelry will not get rid of germs. This is because jewelry contains many nooks and crannies where germs can hide. COVID-19 has been shown to last for hours or even days on various surfaces, with copper being one of the most inhospitable surfaces for the virus.
For Soft Stones, Limit Contact With Water and Avoid Alcohol
It’s important to limit contact with water and alcohol for soft stones such as pearls and opals. This is due to unique chemical compositions of these materials. Both stones are vulnerable to scratching and react badly to jewelry cleaners. Opals are highly sensitive to any changes in temperature, and they can be damaged by water that is not set at room temperature.
Soft stones can be deep cleaned by water, but it requires a much more gentle, detailed process. Make sure to follow your jeweler’s recommendations for cleaning, and plan carefully before attempting to clean opals and pearls with water. It’s best to stick to the use of a soft cloth gently wiped over the soft stone’s surface otherwise.
If you find yourself unable to do a proper deep cleaning of your hard or soft stones, it may be wise to heed the words of health professionals.
Health Professionals Stance on Jewelry
Health professionals are advising caution. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, advises taking off jewelry before washing your hands or not wearing it altogether for the time being. The CDC has reported that skin underneath rings contains more germs than areas of your hand that are not. More research is needed to determine if wearing rings increases the risk of germ transmission.
Some jewelry owners may be hesitant to stop wearing their pieces. Wearing your favorite ring can help your mood, but be sure to make well-informed decisions that will keep both you and your stones safe and sound.