Wash your hands, yo. And protect your rings.
Many of us, on the best days, are germaphobes to some extent. My obsession with keeping germs at bay went into overdrive with the pandemic. I even thought about making some sort of non-fanny pack carrier for sanitizers and extra masks - a holster for emergency quickdraws. I’m pretty sure it would catch on.
Even before covid-19, I kept hand sanitizer close at hand, with mild concerns in the back of my mind that too much could damage my rings, but I figured a quick rub here and there wasn’t too much to worry about. In these times, with constant hand-washing and sanitizing, I can’t help but wonder what the constant use of chemicals might be doing to my precious jewelry.
Let’s be clear: Wash wash wash, spray spray spray, scrub scrub scrub. Do whatever keeps your hands clean. Whatever the value of the rings you wear, your health is more precious.
Of course, it’s good practice to take rings off for certain things, showering, lotioning, kneading dough, digging holes, meatball making… You know, all those jewel gunking up activities. But taking them off to wash hands or sanitize almost never happens. Maybe others are more fastidious, but I suspect not.
Here’s some dirt on keeping hands clean and rings protected (see what I did there?). The CDC recommends using alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, which will probably not affect metal jewelry. Soaps, on the other hand, often contain abrasives that can damage the surface of jewelry, causing it to be worn away. Soaps shouldn’t damage stones, but can temporarily leave a filmy residue, dulling their important sparkle. Pearls, however, are a different story. Hand sanitizer can change color and luster with repeated chemical exposure.
Bottom Line: To minimize harm, take rings off before handwashing with soap or hand sanitizers - just be sure to put them in a safe, predictable place… like an adorable trinket tray.
At the end of the day, reducing risk is always the most important thing. We’re all in this together and increasing our hand hygiene is the most proactive thing we can do.