Spending the summer months at the coast is something nearly all Southwest Floridians look forward to. With the beginning of summer now upon us, you may be wondering what, if any, jewelry you should feel comfortable wearing when you go. After all, with the amount of sand and salt water that gets on your towel- it’s easy to be concerned about your precious jewelry. Whether it’s an antique family heirloom or a brand new engagement ring, you don’t want to risk any damage. Here are a few things to consider:
How Well Does it Fit?
Your hand shrinks in cold water, so a ring that fits well can become loose very quickly. Any rings should come off before you go in the ocean unless they're really tight and you never take them off. But water isn’t the only thing loosening your favorite ring: tanning oil, sunscreen, and just plain sweat all create a lubricate. If you’re really worried about losing a precious ring while at the beach, it may be best to take it off and keep it in a safe place beforehand.
What Type of Metal is it?
While stronger metals like platinum should have no problem standing up against the salty sea air, softer precious metals will not fare so well. It's especially harmful to rose gold jewelry because of the copper used for coloring. Sea salt is very corrosive to copper and it will cause the jewelry to collapse much faster than traditional yellow gold. Sponge-like or absorbent materials like coral or turquoise, a favorite in beach necklaces and bracelets, will absorb the sea salt and air and eventually rot. While that won’t happen quickly, if you plan on spending all summer by the shore you may want to consider leaving jewelry made with soft materials at home.
Are There Gemstones?
While sand is corrosive, it will not harm strong precious metals like gold. With gemstones, it depends on the hardness of the material. If it's a tougher stone like a diamond, sapphire, or ruby, the sand won't hurt it. But if it's a more fragile stone, like an amethyst, then it's a lot more likely to be scratched.
Will You be Around Chlorine?
Many trips to the beach include a dip in the pool as well, especially if you’re staying at a resort. Don’t forget to consider the chlorine in the pool when deciding whether to wear your fine jewelry to the beach. Chlorine, whether it is found in the swimming pool or in the hot tub, can degrade gold jewelry to the point of disintegration.
Will You Be Tanning?
A big part of the beach for many is getting that perfect tan. Keep in mind any big or clunky jewelry will create tan lines. If you think you may be tempted to take off your bracelet or necklace once you start to bronze, it’s probably safer to leave it at home. It’s better to leave it and wear it later than lose it in the sand!
Once serious damage to fine jewelry has occurred, it is often impossible to repair and it must be repurchased or recreated. This can be devastating to the owner, especially if the damaged jewelry was a heirloom piece or something with emotional significance. If you’re planning on visiting often or slipping into the pool to cool off, you may want to keep your high-end jewelry at home.