How To Protect Your Jewelry From The Elements, According To An Expert

Has your mother or grandmother ever handed you an exquisite piece of jewelry that's been in the family for generations? Can you recall how special the moment felt, and how you vowed to keep that heirloom safe forever? Or maybe it's your engagement ring. Whatever the piece of jewelry, the desire to keep it safe from harm and to cherish it is strong. It's not only something sparkly and expensive — it's got sentimental value attached to it too. 

Perhaps you've googled the topic and educated yourself on the best way to clean your silver jewelry, but did you know that environmental elements such as the sun and the sea can also have a negative effect on your jewelry's quality? Even things like air pollution can cause sterling silver, in particular, to darken, according to Intercept Silver and Jewelry Care Co.  

Speaking exclusively to The List, Dustin Lemick, the founder and CEO of jewelry and watch insurance company BriteCo confirmed: "While fine jewelry is made of hard stones and metals, it's not as indestructible as people often think." There are numerous ways you can safeguard your precious jewelry, per Harper's Bazaar, but Lemick has some useful tips for how to protect your valuables from the elements, especially the sun and water. 

What happens to jewelry if it's exposed to the sun?

Even though you may not have to worry too much about sun-induced damage with fine jewelry, according to industry expert Dustin Lemick, if you're sporting a ring with gemstones and spending plenty of time in the sun, you may start to see some dullness in the stones over time. Lemick, who's the CEO of jewelry and watch insurance company, BriteCo, shares that it's not only the sunlight you should be worried about, though. 

You should be thinking about other aspects that go with your time in the sun, like sunscreens and lotions that contain sulfates or other harmful chemicals. "This isn't limited to fine jewelry alone, but also costume, plastic, plated, and crystal or other faux stones and materials," explains Lemick. If you've got a host of activities planned for the summer, you may want to take the durability and safety of your jewelry into consideration, per Brittany's Fine Jewelry

Lemick advises understanding the kind of jewelry you own and deciding if it could be negatively impacted by too much sun exposure. "Typically, most metals and stones won't have a problem with long-term sun exposure, but it's always best to do your research on your particular gem material," he notes. If there's any doubt, it's best to leave your valuables at home so they stay protected. 

What about water and other related elements?

Bigger might be better for jewelry trends in 2023, but that isn't necessarily the case when it comes to certain activities involving the elements. When enjoying the summertime either in or close to bodies of water like seas, lakes, and pools, you don't have to worry as long as you take some necessary precautions. "Elements like sand in the lake or ocean are abrasive to your jewelry and can scratch the metal and potentially loosen stones within their settings," warns jewelry expert Dustin Lemick

In fact, even gardening can be potentially harmful to your jewelry for the same reason, reports Jewelers Mutual. Planning to wear your fine jewelry while taking a dip in the pool? How about a nice relaxing evening in the hot tub with your engagement ring? You may want to reconsider, according to Lemick. Chlorine can break "down the bonds between the alloys," he says. Again, research and an understanding of what you're wearing and how it could be impacted by the elements could be the difference between a damaged precious item and one that lasts forever. 

Lemick also points out that losing your jewelry in the water is a very real possibility. "Once an item falls off, it can be very hard to locate it, particularly in a lake or ocean," he says. But, if you do remove the jewelry before hitting the pool, leave it with someone or in some place safe.