The trip to the beach is planned and the sea is waiting for you, but what to do with your jewelry?
After spending your life savings on expensive jewelry, you want to know that you're getting what you paid for, which is why it's important to take all the essential steps to ensure your jewelry is protected.
To learn more about the effects of salt water on jewelry and how salt water can damage it, read on.
If you wear jewelry all the time, whether it's a wedding band or an engagement ring, a simple pair of classic earrings or that necklace you never take off, you know, from your past experiences, that jewelry often suffers from exposure to different conditions.
The biggest culprit and cause for concern is often exposure to salt and chlorine, and both of these agents can cause irreparable damage to expensive jewelry, which is why it is recommended that you remove your jewelry when swimming.
You now know to remove your jewelry in chlorinated water, but did you know that salt can have just as damaging or even worse effects??
Salt can be very damaging to your gold or diamond jewelry, and the main reason for this is that salt causes the metal layer of the jewelry to erode. Platinum, silver, and gold are eroded by salt, and exposure to salt over a long period of time weakens precious metals, and jewelry can break.
Diamonds are also affected by salt water, with the main concern being tarnishing of the stone. Exposing a diamond to salt stains the facets, which dulls the previously sparkling diamond.
The good news is that tarnish is temporary on diamonds, and a good rinse of diamond jewelry after exposure to salt water will help it retain its shine.
Does salt water damage gold jewelry?
Yes, salt water damages gold, as well as all white jewelry such as silver and white gold. The reason for this is that salt water erodes the gold layer of the jewel, which weakens it.
While some tougher white metals, like platinum, tend to hold up well even in extreme saltwater conditions, softer metals, like gold and silver, don't hold up well, which means that if your wedding band or engagement ring is gold or silver, you need to be very careful near the ocean and in other areas with salt water.
Salt water from the ocean is particularly harmful to your jewelry. Its hardness means the salt will eat away at gold jewelry and the extent of corrosion is expected to worsen, especially for copper jewelry.
Gold is naturally very soft and cannot be cast into jewelry in its purest form. Metals like copper are mixed with gold to harden it. Although effective at hardening gold, copper is very reactive to salt, which means that you risk completely destroying gold jewelry by exposing it to salt water.
The other consideration you need to keep in mind is that the copper content of gold varies depending on the type of purity percentage of the gold - 18k gold contains less copper than 10k gold or 14k. Gold jewelery with a high copper content will therefore be affected by salt water.
Of the three main types of gold jewelry - white gold, yellow gold and rose gold - rose gold is much more sensitive to salt water and a rose gold ring will corrode faster than a ring. white gold or the traditional yellow gold.
Therefore, if you plan to go to the beach and you like your rose gold jewelry, you can take it off before swimming.
Note, however, that potential salt water damage is not limited to gold jewelry. Any metal jewelry exposed to salt water will be eroded and damaged; precious stones too.
Does salt water damage silver jewelry?
Yes, salt water can seriously damage silver jewelry, and we strongly advise against wearing your silver jewelry in the ocean as the salt will react with the silver layer causing tarnish.
We don't need to say how bad, cheap and ugly jewelry looks when it's tarnished!
Note that the combination of water, salt and oxygen causes extreme damage to metals, and the level of damage that results from this combination is believed to be worse than that which would be caused by rust.
The reason for this is that the combination of water, salt and oxygen eats away at the metal, weakening it and eventually causing it to fall apart.
It should also be noted that salt water causes metals to corrode at about five times the rate of fresh water.
So while silver would not normally be damaged in clean fresh water, the damage is extensive when you expose your silver jewelry to salt water.
Does salt water damage leather jewelry?
Yes, and you should avoid soaking your leather band or allowing it to come into contact with ocean or beach water.
The salt in the water or even the sand on the beach causes the oil in the leather to dry out, damaging it deeply and irreversibly.
Does salt water damage stainless steel jewelry?
Although salt water damages most metals and you may see the damage within days of exposure, stainless steel jewelry is more durable and exposure to small amounts of salt will not damage it.
Stainless steel jewelry has chrome, which is protective, and the best thing is that even if the stainless steel is exposed to salt water and becomes slightly tarnished, you can wipe off the tarnished layer with fresh water and a clean, soft cloth.
Does salt water damage brass jewelry?
Brass is a beautiful metal known for its golden glow and brilliant shine. When new, brass shines like gold, but after a while it becomes dull.
While natural tarnish from exposure to air takes time, it wears out faster when exposed to salt water or seawater, due to the high reactivity of the copper used with zinc to make brass. You should therefore not wear brass jewelry at the beach.
Interestingly, brass can be cleaned with salt and lemon juice to remove tarnish, but you should wash it with hot soapy water and then dry it before storing it.