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How to Care for Your Jewelry After a Beach Day

How to care for your jewelry after a beach day

Summer is all about sunshine, relaxation and peaceful afternoons at the beach. After all, you work hard all year long, and you deserve to treat yourself to a day, a weekend or even a week at the beach.

Unfortunately, the one thing that doesn’t love the beach quite as much as you is your jewelry. As relaxing and rejuvenating as the beach is, it isn’t always kind to jewelry. Between the wind, water and sand, there’s a lot that can damage your jewelry.

Despite this, there’s no reason you can’t still wear jewelry to the beach. Whether you want to look a little glamorous in earrings or other jewelry, or you’re just looking to wear a simple wedding band, you can certainly do so. As a conscientious jewelry-owner, however, it’s up to you to give your jewelry the care and attention it needs after a long day at the beach.

To help you better understand how to care for jewelry after the beach, we’ve put together this list of jewelry care tips. Follow these and your jewelry will stay spotless no matter how often you decide to hit the waves.

What Kind of Damage Is My Jewelry at Risk For?

First, let’s talk about the different types of damage that can occur when you take your jewelry to the beach. By understanding this, we’ll be better equipped to talk about the things you can do to protect your jewelry and the ways you can care for it after the fact.

1. Salt

Unlike the water found in lakes, rivers or even our own taps at home, the water in the ocean is salty. While this high salt content isn’t harmful to all jewelry, it can be quite devastating to others. Diamonds, for example, fair poorly when exposed to salt. These chemicals could potentially eat away at the fine polish that gives diamonds their beautiful shine and luster.

Many precious metals, as well, don’t react well to be exposed to salt. Salt creates a residue which remains on the jewelry’s surface even after you’ve left the beach. This residue then continues to eat away at the metal’s surface, creating ugly tarnish stains and other blemishes.

diamonds don't react well when exposed to salt

2. Sand

Sand is a hard, abrasive material that can scrape ruthlessly away at many surfaces, including the metal and precious stones in your jewelry. This can lead to scratch marks, scrapes and other types of cosmetic damage. It even has the potential to break jewelry clasps and other functional pieces of your jewelry. It can wear down the smooth finish of many pieces, often causing much more damage than might seem possible.

3. Sun Exposure

You might not initially have thought of the sun as something that could harm your jewelry, but it’s time to start thinking about it. Sun exposure can lead to discoloration over time, and can also soften adhesives holding different pieces of your jewelry together. It can lead to general fading and loss of sparkle and shine after a while. Certain gemstones can either darken or fade if they’re out in the sun for too long.

Sun exposure effect on jewelry

This isn’t usually an issue if you’re just walking across the yard or a parking lot, but when you’re spending hours under the intense sun and heat at the beach, the damage can add up.

4. Water

Other than the high salt content, water won’t damage your jewelry. What it will do, however, is make it very easy for you to lose your jewelry. When you’re splashing around in the water, it’s incredibly easy for a ring, earring or bracelet to slip off.

It isn’t a huge problem to lose an earring at home, or even in a parking lot. Usually, there’s a fairly good chance of finding it again. When you’re swimming in the ocean, however, it’s safe to assume that any piece of lost jewelry is lost for good.

5. Sunscreen

Everyone knows the importance of lathering up in sunscreen at the beach. What you might not know, however, is that the chemical makeup of many sunscreens can actually be damaging to your jewelry. In the same way that salt can tarnish your jewelry, so can the chemicals in sunscreen. While the greasy nature of many sunscreens sinks into your skin and is absorbed, it just sits on the surface of jewelry, eroding the surface and leading to tarnishing.

Ways to Care for Your Jewelry at the Beach

If all these are possible ways for your jewelry to be damaged at the beach, what can you do about it? Are there precautions you can take? As it turns out, there’s a lot you can do to keep your jewelry safe after a long day on the beach. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Think About What Jewelry You Wear

While reactive care is always possible after the fact, the best and most effective way to care for your jewelry is simply to leave it at home. It isn’t absolutely certain that your jewelry will be damaged at the beach, but it is a possibility. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to assume this could happen. As you plan what to wear to the beach, keep this possibility in the back of your mind.

Ask yourself, “How much would I mind if this piece of jewelry was damaged?” If the answer is “very much,” then it might be best to leave that piece at home. Instead, wear pieces that you aren’t extremely attached to, or that aren’t highly valuable. If it sustains irreparable damage or is lost, you’ll be glad you weren’t wearing your favorite pieces.

2. Take It off Before You Go Into the Water

If you do decide to wear your jewelry to the beach, consider slipping it off and stowing it in a secure place before you head into the water. You might keep a sealing storage baggie in your beach bag and store your rings here before you start swimming. Feel free to wear them while you relax on the sand, but don’t wear them in the water unless you’re confident in how secure they are.

3. Go Easy on the Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an essential part of any beach trip, but when there’s jewelry involved, you’ll want to be sure to take it easy. Rub or spray your sunscreen on just like you normally would, but take extra care as you get close to your jewelry. Be careful to avoid accidentally rubbing sunscreen directly onto the jewelry. If possible, leave a small patch of bare skin around the jewelry. This might be less feasible with a necklace, but it’s easily done with rings.

Another option is to simply remove your jewelry while applying sunscreen, and wait until it is thoroughly rubbed in and no longer greasy before putting your jewelry back on. This option is more effective at protecting your jewelry, although it is slightly more of a hassle. If you’re serious about protecting your jewelry, however, it’s worth it.

Remove jewelry to apply sunscreen

4. Try to Keep Sand off Your Jewelry

This can be a tricky one to achieve, as sand has a way of getting everywhere when you’re at the beach. It gets in your bathing suit, in your beach bag and, inevitably, some of it will find its way underneath your rings and other jewelry as well. There isn’t a lot you can do about this, but it can go a long way if you do your best to keep your jewelry clear of the sand.

If you plan on building a sandcastle, remove your rings first. If you want to sunbathe, put a towel between you and the sand. Little actions like that can sometimes make a world of difference between your jewelry being scratched up and coming away undamaged.

Jewelry Care After the Beach

All of these are great tips for preventing damage to your jewelry at the beach. But what happens if you went to the beach and your jewelry still got covered in sand, saltwater and sunscreen? What can you do if it did sustain damage?

Don’t worry. While it’s ideal if your jewelry doesn’t get damaged in the first place, there’s still plenty you can do to clean and care for your jewelry after exposure to beach hazards. Here are just a few of the tricks you can try.

1. Basic Wipe-Down

In some cases, you might come back from the beach, examine your jewelry and realize that you managed to escape unscathed. Maybe your jewelry still looks like it’s in perfect condition. If that’s the case, then that’s good news. Still, it’s always a good idea to be cautious. It could be that there are contaminants on your jewelry that you can’t see with the naked eye.

To prevent any damage from occurring post-beach, use a soft damp cloth to gently wipe off any jewelry you wore at the beach. This will help ensure that any sunscreen, salt or sand residue is wiped off and won’t continue to corrode the jewelry, and will help maintain the natural shine of the metal and stones.

Use a soft damp cloth to wipe jewelry

2. Heavier Cleaning

While sometimes you might come away with your jewelry looking untouched, other times you might not be so fortunate. If you come away from the beach feeling like your jewelry has been through the wringer, it might be time to give it a more heavy-duty cleaning job. For times when you need to clean sandy jewelry, this should do the trick.

The best thing to do is to wash your jewelry as soon as possible after the exposure. The longer the sand and salt sit on the metal, the more damage they can do. It’s best to clean them off as quickly as you can. To do this, try a combination of water and gentle soap. This can be whatever kind of soap you have on hand, whether that’s hand soap, body soap or something else altogether. Harsh chemicals or other cleaning treatments are absolutely not recommended.

Be sure to use a soft, non-abrasive cloth along with your soap-and-water formula, as well. Carefully clean the entire piece of jewelry, making sure you don't neglect any of the sides or facets. Once you’re satisfied that it’s clean, use another soft cloth to dry it completely. It’s important that the jewelry is dry before you store it, as the last thing you want is to store your jewelry while still damp.

3. Give Special Attention to Leather

Not all jewelry is made of metal and precious stones. If you have any leather bracelets or any other jewelry with leather components, those are going to require special treatment. It’s worth noting that leather should never be wet, and should absolutely be kept out of the ocean. Accidents happen, however,and if your leather jewelry is worse for the wear after a day at the beach, there are ways to clean it.

Try cleaning the leather with a cloth that’s slightly damp, with all the water wrung out of it. Use this to brush off any residue or stains that may have collected while at the beach. There are also specialized leather cleaners available that are specifically designed to clean contaminants while not damaging the leather more than necessary by adding water content.

4. Get Your Jewelry Cleaned Professionally

Jewelry should be cleaned professionally every so often, whether or not it’s been to the beach. If you notice that your jewelry is looking a bit haggard after a beach day, however, and none of the DIY methods seem to be working, it might be time to schedule that professional cleaning.

Even if no particular beach trip seems to have damaged your jewelry, it’s still a good idea to schedule a professional cleaning for the end of the summer season. Between beach trips, sunscreen, summer lotions and the hot sun beating down, summer can be a damaging time for jewelry. It’s always better to play it safe and get it cleaned by a real professional rather than risk permanent damage. Even if you’re jewelry isn’t damaged, a professional cleaning will help your jewelry last longer and maintain its original sparkle.

Schedule a professional jewelry cleaning

Shop Jewelry at Little Switzerland Today

Whether you’re headed to the beach, a summer party or a tropical resort, it’s important to look your best. One of the best ways to do that is with the right accessories. Are you looking for some great new pieces to accessorize with this summer? Then stop by Little Switzerland today and browse our selection of luxury jewelry.

Here at Little Switzerland, we’re proud to be the Caribbean’s most trusted watch and jewelry retailer for more than 60 years. We offer the Caribbean’s largest selection of fine watches and luxury jewelry, and we do it all while offering preferred no-interest financing plans so that you can pay the way that works best for you.

Shop in-person when you visit one of our locations, or browse our selection online and enjoy free shipping in the continental United States on orders over $100. If you’re ready to find that perfect piece of jewelry to fit your summer, there’s no reason to wait. Browse our selection today.