In all of our predictions for 2020 or even 2021, we never would have guessed that hand sanitizer would become such a hot commodity!
With safety becoming increasingly important around COVID-19 in our communities, hand hygiene has become more important than ever. This has left many of our customers wondering, “is hand sanitizer bad for my engagement ring?”.
Soap and water are always best, both for keeping germs away and preserving your jewellery, but sometimes hand sanitizer is the only choice. The answer ultimately depends on the type of jewellery you’re wearing.
The best protection for your jewellery right now is to keep it at home in your jewellery box. If you just can’t resist, keep reading to learn more about the impact hand sanitizer can have on your jewellery and how you can keep both your hands and your jewellery safe and sparkling.
Will Hand Sanitizer Damage My Diamond Ring or Gemstones?
Using hand sanitizer while wearing a ring won’t cause immediate damage to diamonds or gemstones, but can leave a filmy residue on the stones over time, dulling the sparkle. But it’s not permanent, and nothing a quick restoration at our store can’t fix.
Hand sanitizers are not capable of removing tough, albeit thin, rhodium that’s on a piece of jewellery. But, the chemicals in hand sanitizer leave a residue that will dull the shine and brilliance over time. Once that’s gone, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to get back.
Regular cleaning with soap and water can help prevent the buildup of this residue. However, soaps can contain abrasives, that could damage the surface of jewellery and cause rhodium to be worn away.
The best solution to protect diamonds and gemstones is to take off your ring, use hand sanitizer or soap, and then place your ring back on once your hands are completely dry.
Will Hand Sanitizer Damage My Gold Ring or Precious Metal?
This question is a bit trickier and it comes down to the type of metal your jewellery is made with, as well as the type of hand sanitizer you’re using.
Alcohol based hand sanitizers are not really harmful to jewellery items because alcohol is the main germ-killing ingredient.
However, non–alcohol-based hand sanitizers typically use chlorine-based compounds as germicides. These chlorine compounds could react with water and release free chlorine. Free chlorine radical is very reactive and could cause tarnishing of jewelry, especially if it is made of sterling silver.
Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers
The short answer is similar to above; an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will not cause immediate damage but the buildup can cause tarnishing and wear over time and cause the metal to lose its shine.
Yellow gold is the least susceptible to damage from hand sanitizer because there’s no film or layer that can become tarnished or worn down.
Platinum is another fairly safe metal. It doesn’t react at all with the chemicals in hand sanitizer, although it’s still best to avoid it and keep up with regular cleaning to avoid any residue that will dull the shine.
White gold, on the other hand, is more likely to be damaged by hand sanitizer. This is because white gold has a rhodium plating that can wear off. It’s not uncommon for white gold jewellery to require replating at some point, but frequent use of hand sanitizers can speed up the wear and tarnishing.
Rose gold is another one you’ll want to be careful with because the chemicals in hand sanitizer react with the copper elements that give rose gold its unique hue.
Sterling silver rings are the ones you need to be the most cautious with, as they are more susceptible to tarnishing because of their reaction with chlorine compounds, especially in non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers
Not only are alcohol-free hand sanitizers less effective at killing germs, they’re also more likely to damage your jewellery. This is because they contain chlorine-based chemicals and these chlorine compounds could react with water and release free chlorine. Free chlorine radical is very reactive and could cause tarnishing of jewelry.
This is especially important if you wear a ring made from sterling silver, as chlorine-based compounds are much more likely to tarnish sterling silver.
If you have no choice but to use an alcohol-free hand sanitizer, we strongly recommend that you remove your ring, apply the sanitizer and ensure your hands are completely dry before putting the ring back on.
Will Hand Sanitizer Damage Pearls?
If you wear a ring or bracelet containing pearls, we absolutely recommend that you leave them at home for the time being. Sanitized skin should not come into contact with your pearls until completely dry and evaporated.
Similar to perfumes and hairspray, the alcohol in hand sanitizer can alter the actual surface of the pearl. This will cause it to lose its luster and even change the colour. We presume that you want your white pearls to remain white instead of turning yellow!
If you need to apply hand sanitizer while wearing pearl jewellery, remove it first, apply the hand sanitizer and then wait until it’s completely dry and evaporated before putting it back on. You’ll want to wait longer than other jewellery, ideally about 5 minutes.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but nothing trumps the safety of our customers and community. To keep your jewellery at its best and most brilliant sparkle for years to come, we recommend leaving it at home for the time being.
If you choose to keep wearing it, make sure to remove your jewellery while applying hand sanitizer and don’t put it back on until your hands are dry. The absolute best thing to do, of course, is to wash your hands with soap and water.
If you have any more questions about how to care for your jewellery, don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail and our jewellery experts will be happy to answer your questions. We can’t wait to see you in our newly renovated store once we’re able to open again!