Summer Jewelry Care

Summer Jewelry CareSummer has finally settled in. Summer activities abound with the sun out, so it’s worth mentioning that some jewelry needs to be treated a little differently during the fun things we all love to do when it gets beautiful outside.

One of the most common jewelry problems I see during (or right after) summer is ring discoloration that isn’t due to rhodium plating wearing off of white gold. I see it in yellow gold, as well. The culprit is swimming pools and hot tubs. The chlorine and bromine infused in the water corrodes the metals alloyed with the gold, causing pitting and brittleness and generally wreaking havoc. Sterling silver jewelry doesn’t stand a chance in pools and hot tubs, either. Chlorine and bromine can do a number on colored stones, as well, like opal, moonstone, pearls, and turquoise.

Rough activities can also jeopardize jewelry. Sports like baseball, softball, football, and basketball can take a heavy toll by bending or otherwise deforming metal, breaking prongs, and even chipping or fracturing gemstones.

For those of you in the stands clapping and cheering for your team: be aware of having rings on both hands. They can bang against each other, which can bend the rings out of round, or even break them at solder joints. It’s rather amazing how much force actually goes into a single, average clap, so when you consider how hard your hands are striking together when you’re really riled up, it’s no wonder that rings can get damaged.

And there’s one more seemingly innocuous activity that always catches people off-guard when I tell them it’s bad for some of their jewelry. Tanning, whether outside sun-bathing, or in a salon bed, can literally fade the color right out of some gemstones.

Below is a list of stones that are notorious for fading, reverting to a pre-enhancement color, or other adverse effects after prolonged exposure to direct sunlight or ultraviolet light. When I say, “prolonged exposure,” think laying out or sitting without changing your physical location for more than an hour. For some gems, like heated amethyst or citrine, it takes that kind of exposure multiplied over the days of a summer or several summers. But for others, like kunzite or blue zircon, once may be all it takes.

Kunzite (very sensitive; I recommend only wearing kunzite during the evening or at indoor events)

Heated and natural aquamarine

Heated and natural morganite

Heated and natural heliodor

Heated and/or irradiated tourmaline

Heated and/or irradiated and natural zircon

Heated and natural quartz (amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz, rose quartz, prasiolite, etc.)

Dyed and natural chalcendony, agate, and jasper

Irradiated, dyed, and untreated pearls

Heated and natural amber

Dyed and natural coral

Dyed jadeite jade

Dyed nephrite jade

Dyed and natural turquoise

Dyed and natural lapis lazuli

Oiled emeralds can dry out

Irradiated yellow and orange sapphire

Fracture-filled rubies are generally unpredictable

In short, take your jewelry off before you get into the pool or hot tub, before you don your baseball glove or lace up your cleats, and before a tanning session.

And – it’s difficult to believe I have to say this, but the issue has arisen before – please don’t wear your jewelry while rock climbing. No good can come of it.

Posted in: Amethyst, Aquamarine, Emeralds, June Birthstone, Pearls, Sapphire

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