Skip to main content

Hand Sanitizers and My Jewellery

With the Covid-19 crisis, everyone is reminded over and over to wash their hands often and many of us also use hand sanitizers.  Do these hurt our jewellery? 

Hand sanitizers are typically one of two variations:  alcohol-based and non-alcohol based.  The alcohol version evaporates quickly and while it leaves behind a slight film, it won’t bother your silver, gold or platinum jewellery.  The film left behind can be easily washed off or in our store, we steam any film off.

As for your gemstones, they should be fine with the exception of pearls and ammolite.  These gemstones can be harmed by the alcohol leaching in and removing the luster or natural coating of the gemstone.  So if your rings or bracelets have pearls remove them, clean with your sanitizer, let it completely evaporate and then put your jewellery back on.  For necklaces, we would wonder why you need sanitizer on your neck!?

Now opals are a bit of a mixed bag.  Some sources say the alcohol will have an effect and others say no.  From the best resources, we feel, alcohol can be potentially harmful due to the evaporation causing a sudden temperature difference that could crack an opal.  Just a caution, we have no scientific proof of this, but a few opal sellers tell me they wouldn’t let their opals come into contact with a quickly evaporating liquid.  When you think that going out on a very cold day, the sudden drop of temperature can have an effect, (which we have seen personally in opals) I would take a cautious approach with your opals.

The non-alcohol based sanitizers can be a whole different issue. We have been trying to get some research on them, and the CDC website only mentions them briefly.  Other sites have more details and the active ingredient is typically benzalkonium chloride.  We were even told some sanitizers have ammonia in them but we haven’t been able to find any that say that on the label.  Chloride (and ammonia) can have an effect on your gold and silver, but not platinum.  The use of these will cause some discoloration and tarnishing.  Chloride can react with nickel in white golds (some, not all white golds use nickel).  The result can be a reduction of the shine, discoloration and in more extreme cases, cracks in the white gold.  These sanitizers will have the same effect on pearls and ammolite as mentioned above.  Some other gemstones may also be impacted as the chlorine reacts with the minerals in some gemstones, none of these being diamonds, sapphires or rubies.  Simple thing here is don’t leave your jewellery on when using these hand sanitizers.

In both cases, no matter which sanitizer you use, if your rings do discolor or seem to be tarnished, the luster and shine can be brought back with a proper polish, steam cleaning and even rhodium plating (for white gold).  Go to the end of my blog for more about this. Now the big thing to note is that sanitizers have to be used correctly to be effective at all.  And the alcohol-based ones are the better ones to use, according to the CDC.  If you are using a sanitizer, use enough to cover a palm, spread it thoroughly and let it fully evaporate before moving on.  The best is actually to use soap and water and thoroughly wash hands.  So what does soap and water do to your jewellery? 

First and foremost, if you cannot practically remove your jewellery before washing your hand, then use a soap that is free of abrasives.  We have a container of GOJO™ the stuff in the big orange plastic bottle, that works on tough greasy hands.  It’s great but it has a grit in it.  That will have an impact on silver, gold and platinum.  Over time it will act just like sandpaper and remove the polish, rhodium and even textures.  Stick with hand soaps that are clear or have no abrasives in them and you will be fine.  It may leave a film on your gemstones, but the film can be removed easily.

It is times like these when our first line responders, nurses and doctors truly become heroes.  We think they are underappreciated in normal times and overworked in unusual times like we are experiencing today.  We want to let you know we appreciate the efforts these individuals make. As a gesture of thanks, we want to make each nurse or doctor a special offer.  Bring in your rings and we will properly polish and clean them. If they are white gold, we will rhodium plate them as well.  All of this is free of charge (a value of up to $150).  There are no strings and no purchase required.  The details or “fine print” are as follows:

  1. Some form of ID is required to show proof of occupation.
  2. Up to two items per customer.
  3. First come, first served. The total process can be while you wait or one to two days if the items are white gold and need rhodium plating.
  4. Offer ends October 31, 2020.  In the event the pandemic lasts longer, and we all haven’t gone stir crazy, we will extend the offer deadline.  That will be determined in the months to come.
  5. No cash value for coupons and not transferable to any other service, repair or purchase.   Service as offered only.
  6. Bring screenshot or printout of the coupon for redemption.