Your Beauty Routine Could Be Ruining Your Jewelry
Expert Neil Lane explains which products can be harmful to your favorite pieces — and what you can do to restore them to their original brilliance.
Diamonds are meant to be forever, but have you ever looked down at your ring finger and thought, “My diamond just doesn’t shine like it used to?” Anything beautiful or precious requires maintenance and care — it applies when caring for yourself, and even when caring for your jewels.
You might not realize that your self-care and beauty regimen can actually damage your valuable possessions. Here’s how your daily beauty routine affects your jewelry, and what you can do to restore the former sparkle to your beloved treasures.
Most of us wash or rinse our face in the morning without considering how water, soap and other products affect the jewelry we’re wearing. Soap adds a film to diamonds, and cleansing oils dull brilliance. Face washes can also leave behind residue in hard-to-clean spots on your jewelry . Water can have an impact, too. While a wet diamond isn’t a cause for concern, other gemstones, such as emeralds, are best not soaked in liquids.
All of this considered, it’s advisable to remove jewelry before washing your face, but find a safe space for your pieces before doing so. I can’t tell you how many of my clients have lost their rings down the drain or simply forgotten where they’ve put it. To avoid a plumbing disaster, put a strainer over your drain and keep a jewelry bowl next to the sink.
Additionally exfoliants are designed to remove dead skin cells so new ones can thrive. This is great for your face, but bad for your jewelry. The tiny scrubbers in some exfoliants create microscopic scratches on precious metals, such as gold and platinum. Over time, this consistent wear and tear can damage your rings. Before you start scrubbing, be conscious of what you’re wearing.
As we transition from the winter months into sunny, skin-baring seasons, it’s only natural to want to slather on thick lotions and creams. While hydration is undoubtedly important, creams often leave behind a residue that can discolor your jewelry — especially on softer stones like opals and pearls. White gold and silver are also particularly sensitive to oils, chemicals and other sources of moisture like sweat. When exposed to moisture, these precious metals tend to tarnish, so try to store them in a closed, dry space and only put them on clean, dry skin.
Perfumes and Fragrances
Always spritz before you accessorize. The oils found in perfumes tend to stick to the faceted surfaces of diamonds, dulling their shine. As some of the most beautiful, natural gems in the world, opals and pearls are best not exposed to fragrances, which can cause them to darken or yellow. The golden rule when it comes to jewelry is “last on, first off;” your jewels should the last thing you put on before leaving the house, and the first thing you take off before beginning your nighttime beauty routine.
Your Jewelry Needs a Beauty Routine, Too
Aside from removing your jewelry, there are a few ways you can make sure your gems withstand the test of time. Every so often, you should take them in for a checkup and professional cleaning, but most pieces can also be routinely maintained between trips to the jeweler.
Your engagement ring, for instance, can be rinsed with warm water and dish soap and scrubbed with a toothbrush. Be sure to scrub gently, as brushing too hard can loosen the stones, especially the smaller diamonds in the band. If you’re looking for a more delicate cleaning method, you might take a cue from the extraordinarily glamorous Elizabeth Taylor with a tried-and-true home remedy; soak your ring in a shot glass of vodka or gin overnight and rinse with water in the morning.
Another important note for maintaining your jewelry, specifically your ring, is to always read the instructions of jewelry cleaner to ensure proper use and avoid damage. By the same token, read your warranty or insurance policy carefully. Some may require you to have your ring inspected annually to check that it’s being cleaned and cared for.
Certain metals, like gold, can be polished, or treated for tarnish by gently scrubbing with a prepared jewelry cleaner or with soap and water mixed with a few drops of ammonia.
Opals and pearls can be wiped with a soft cloth, warm water, and dish soap — but be sure to handle with care. Because pearls are usually strung on silk, wetting the strand too much can weaken it. For that reason, pearls should also be brought in for restringing every 10 years or so. If you inherited an heirloom that was made in a different era, getting an expert opinion before cleaning is also recommended.