THE FOUR S'S OF JEWELRY CARE
I am obsessive about caring for my jewelry. Maybe it's because I spent too much time working with jewelry repairs and I am scarred after seeing the worst of the worst, but I refuse to treat my fine jewelry as if it is indestructible. For whatever reason, in this industry more than any I've encountered, people seem to have a logical fallacy that jewelry can be worn at all times without any upkeep, and suffer no damage. Fine jewelry is made from some of the strongest stuff on Earth, yes, but it's not indestructible. Jewelry is not meant to be worn 24/7 and I'd like to throat punch whoever established that misconception.
So, when should you be taking off your pieces? I have come up with a simple way for people to remember and I call it the Four S's.
Your body does weird things when you sleep and your jewelry will fall victim to that weirdness. Fingers swell during slumber and could lose valuable circulation from a ring suddenly becoming too tight. Earring posts will poke your mastoids, or an earring back will fall off and get lost forever. Necklaces will leave creases on your face, become hopelessly tangled, or try and choke you whilst you slumber. Your jewelry can also be bad news for your bedding. Catch a prong on your 600 thread count sheets? Welp, now you have a hole in your sheets and have possibly bent a prong and lost a stone to boot. Neat.
Look, I know SO MANY people who think it's not only perfectly fine to shower with their jewelry on, but actually a smart idea because it "cleans" it. It does not. All that is happening is moisture, product, soap, etc. is getting the chance to build up in the crevices of your pieces and fester bacteria, which will eventually give you a form of dermatitis. Think of it this way - when you shower, you scrub every crevice of your body. You might even use a brush or loofah to really get into the tricky spots. Once you get out of the shower, you thoroughly dry your body. Now instead imagine if you got in the shower, poured body wash over yourself, stood still, let the water flow over it, then got out and put clothes onto a wet, still slightly soapy (and also dirty because you didn't scrub) body. That would be gross and ineffective, right? People who shower with their jewelry on do not take a brush with them into the shower to scrub into the crevices of their pieces. People who shower with their jewelry on do not take it off post-shower, thoroughly dry it, and only put it back on their completely dry body once the jewelry is fully dry. You're not innovative - ya nasty.
There are quite a few reasons not to swim in your jewelry. The first is the same as the no-shower thing - moisture breeds bacteria. Secondly, if you're swimming in a pool - the chemicals that go into pools (like chlorine) are really, really bad for your jewelry. Third, similar to sleep, your body does weird shit in water. It shrinks in water. Did you know bodies of water are the number one place people lose jewelry? It's because when your skin shrivels up in the water, your jewelry doesn't fit and slides right off. Sad.
When I say sweat, I mostly mean working out. I especially mean things like weight lifting, boxing, rock climbing, rowing - these are the perfect situations for your jewels to get knocked around, bent, and broken. Even with activities like running and yoga, you're still going to be sweating, and what happens when you sweat? Yup, you guessed it, moisture - which breeds bacteria, which festers and causes skin problems. Cute.
I know this seems like a lot, but honestly, there are actually even more situations when you should take off your jewels. Washing your hands, doing the dishes, gardening, cooking....these are all settings in which either your jewelry itself is at risk of being damaged or your skin is at risk of dermatitis from product/food build up between your pieces and your skin.
Are there people out there who have never taken off their jewelry and have never had an issue? Yes. But they are the exception, not the rule. Besides, those people have several year's worths of sweat, dead skin, oil, product, food, and who knows what else built up in their jewels. I don't know about you but to me, that doesn't exactly sound like something to brag about.
Jewelry can and will last a lifetime, but only if you take care of it. Leaving jewelry on 24/7 is not taking care of it.
Happy jewelry care, kids!
PS - suddenly feeling a strong urge to cleanse the shit out of your jewelry? Here's how to do it safely at home. You're welcome.