The quick answer:
Yes, it’s okay to get jewelry wet once in a while, though, it's not recommended. However, if you do, just remember to just dry it off after. And always, always, always keep it away from chemicals and sweat—especially when gemstones are involved.
Chemicals are sneaky things that hide in city water (chlorine), perfume, lotion, hand sanitizer, and more. Please, use discretion before showering with your jewelry or putting on perfume while wearing your favorite pieces.
And why is sweat a problem? Sweat is mostly water, but it also contains salt, fatty acids, and ammonia. These things can eat away at metals and stones. So be sure to remove your jewelry before a workout or wipe it down with a cloth when you’re done.
Want more details? We've outlined it all below.
14k gold-filled is a thick layer of 14k gold, over brass. It’s 100 times thicker than gold plate and is typically great for those with allergies to metal. It’s highly durable, will not discolor skin, and is perfect for everyday wear.
Overtime, it can dull (usually because it’s dirty), but it should not tarnish. If your gold-filled has tarnished, its surface was probably scratched or exposed to a chemical that stripped off the gold and revealed the brass. And unfortunately...brass tarnishes. At this point, only sending it back to a jeweler to have it "re-filled" can fix it. So, we need to prevent this from happening in the first place. How? Yeap, you guessed it, keep gold-fill clean from chemicals--and long days at the beach, where things like sand can claw at it.
HOW TO CLEAN GOLD-FILLED:
Use lukewarm soapy water and a soft brush (like a toothbrush), and gently brush the metal clean. Dry it when done. Stay away from chemical cleaners and polishing cloths that can strip the gold off.
Silver wants to be worn! The oils in our skin keep it from tarnishing. Showering keeps it shiny, too. Remove it before entering pools and hot tubs, though. They often have heavy amounts of chlorine, which can cause discoloration. When not wearing sterling, store it in a plastic baggy to keep it from oxidizing.
HOW TO CLEAN STERLING SILVER:
If it has tarnished, use a polishing cloth or silver cleaner to get it looking brand new again. Just be mindful not to get any cleaner on gemstones.
If you don’t have either, mix baking soda and water to form a paste slightly more watery than toothpaste. Then, soak the piece in it overnight. By morning, wash and brush off the paste with a toothbrush and your silver should be much cleaner. Repeat as needed.
*There are great tutorials out there saying to use boiling water with the baking soda. These work great if there are no gemstones involved. If using the boiling water technique, remember to not to submerge gems in it.
Our Vermeil jewelry has a layer of 18-24k gold over sterling silver. This metal requires some care, as it can tarnish, but cannot be polished. Store it in a sealed baggy when not worn, and remove it before exercising, swimming, or bathing. Chemicals and saltwater can strip the gold off, leaving you with a solid piece of sterling silver.
If you see a piece of it starting to tarnish, try gently rubbing it with your finger. Often the oils in skin will rub off minimal tarnish. Do not use a polishing cloth. This will remove the gold.
24k GOLD OR STERLING SILVER ELECTROPLATE
Electroplate is a fine coating of gold or sterling silver electroformed over copper. It is often called gold or silver "dipped", and at GEMNIA, we sometimes use it on raw gemstones to create an organic look.
Like Vermeil, electroplate can tarnish, so it’s recommended to store it in a sealed baggy and to remove it when exercising, swimming, or bathing.
STRUNG OR KNOTTED JEWELRY
Strung jewelry is when beads have been strung on a beading wire or cord. Knotting is when a knot has been placed in between each bead to hold it in place. This is typically done with a silk cord and for pearl jewelry.
Residue and water can gather inside beads and corrode the wire or cord, making it weaken over time. Therfore, it's always a good idea to remove this kind of jewelry when exercising, bathing, or swimming.
To clean strung or knotted pieces, wipe it down with a damp towel, removing any buildup.
Ways to tell your crystal jewelry is not safe for water:
We’re generalizing here, but typically anything under 6 on the Mohs Hardness scale is a no go with water. The Mohs Hardness scale measures how hard minerals are by scratching them against each other. Diamonds are the hardest at a 10, Lapis Lazuli is between a 6 & 5, while Talc is among the softest at 1. Of course, there are exceptions to using the Mohs scale for this (especially with Emeralds), but it is a good basic tool to go by.
Another way to tell is mineral names that end in “ite.” There is no scientific reasoning for this when it comes to water—it’s more of a coincidence. For example, Selenite, Malachite, Fluorite, and Calcite all should avoid water. Selenite will eventually dwindle to nothing if repeatedly exposed to moisture.
Lastly, crystals that are high in iron ore or copper will corrode if they get wet. How do you know which ones have high amounts of iron and copper? Basically, if it looks metallic, keep it away from moisture until you can research it. Examples include: Pyrite, Hematite, or Magnetite.
Water Safe Crystals
Most Quartz (Amethyst, Citrine, Rose Quartz, Crystal/Clear Quartz, Smokey Quartz)
Carnelian (not saltwater)
Water Unsafe Crystals
As you can see, proper care for jewelry is really about knowing what the piece is made out of and what the stone can tolerate. When learning to care for your piece, make sure you know what it is so you can enjoy it for years and years.
Here at GEMNIA, we always send a care card with every order. That way you know how best to care for your new piece. And if you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.