Life is undeniably different right now with the world enduring through this coronavirus pandemic. Sterilization and hand-washing, once a side-thought, is now a top priority for people, but shouldn’t that include jewelry as well? Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your jewelry and yourself safe during this crisis.
To Wear or Not to Wear to Work
A study from the Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professionals recommends that health care workers remove their jewelry – specifically watches, rings, and bracelets, during the workday to prevent contamination. Jewelry creates a safe space for bacteria and viruses to proliferate; therefore, no amount of hand washing will thoroughly sanitize your hands. If you are an essential worker or you work with people during the day, the safest thing is to leave your jewelry at home.
Please do not use hand sanitizer and other antibacterial hand soaps that could damage porous and organic gemstones like pearls, opals, turquoise, amber, coral, and even some crystals.
Also, taking off your jewelry while hand washing does not adequately prevent recontamination. During the day, your jewelry comes in contact with several surfaces as well as the basin when you take them off. Placing contaminated pieces on clean skin does little to help prevent the spread of COVID.
Experts recommend cleaning your jewelry daily during this epidemic. So here is the jeweler and gemologist recommended procedure for cleaning any gemstone and metal. All you need is a bit of mild detergent, like Dawn, luke-warm water, and a SOFT toothbrush.
If the item is filthy, soak the piece in the soapy water for 10 minutes and rinse while gently scrubbing. Make sure to work the brush into the openings of the settings along the sides and back, because lotion, dirt, and other bacteria like to collect in these areas. The Gemmary uses and recommends Lavish, an excellent cleaning product that is safe on all organic, precious, and semi-precious gemstones.
Other articles will tell you to use the steamer on your espresso machine or an ultrasonic cleaner. Please DO NOT attempt these methods; the espresso steamer can easily burn you or the certain gemstones. And the ultrasonic shakes the jewelry violently so that loose gemstones could fall out of their mounting, and other gems with natural fractures, like emerald and tourmaline, might crack and break apart.
Sterilizing Your Jewelry
I know we are all more concerned than ever about germs and cleaning procedures, but please do not use bleach or any cleaning products on your jewelry. As previously mentioned, this will damage your gemstones and can react with certain metals.
Copper jewelry is safe because it has antimicrobial properties, which kills viruses and bacteria that it comes in contact with. The mechanisms that copper uses to do this are fascinating and extensive, so for now, know that after 4 hours of exposure to COVID-19, copper kills the virus versus 72 hours on plastic.
I have also seen mentions of UV light machines for devices and jewelry that sterilize your item within one minute. Some gemstones, like amethyst, can fade when exposed to prolonged daylight, but short and less intense bursts from these machines should not harm your jewelry. If you are interested or want to learn more, you can check one out here.