As social distancing and self-isolation are the key weapons we can collectively utilise to tackle COVID-19, this does diminish the importance of the simpler preventative causes such as washing and sanitising our hands frequently, particularly our rings.
With the UK venturing into the most alarming times we have witnessed in a while, emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness is at an all-time high. With the number of people contracting Coronavirus heightening, in addition to the elderly and anyone with underlying health conditions at further risk, the government has imposed strict instructions for everybody (with the exception of key workers) to remain at home and only leave the house for necessities.
As Coronavirus can remain active on surfaces and objects for days at a time, sanitising everything we possibly can should become second nature at this point in time. When washing our hands for a minimum of 30 seconds, naturally we may remove any jewellery and set it aside, and then place it back on our hands after.
However, this is not the most efficient way to go about the situation as jewellery can easily carry the virus. The easiest option would be to just stop wearing jewellery altogether to avoid hassle until we have seen the pandemic through, but for people who would rather not remove wedding rings or sentimental pieces, there are steps you can take to ensure your jewellery is not contaminated.
The first step is to simply wash your rings separately with an antibacterial wash, for the same amount of time you would wash your hands (or longer). Laura Lambert of Fenton & Co says: “For sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, garnet and diamond jewellery, washing your hands often with soap is great, but can cause a layer of soap and dirt to build up behind a gemstone. If your gemstone is looking a bit dull, soak it in some lukewarm, soapy water to soften the layer of dirt, then use a soft toothbrush and some tepid soapy water to gently scrub either side and behind to bring the gemstone back to its sparkling best. For emerald jewellery, gently scrub your emerald with a soft toothbrush and only water (no soap), and it should do the trick”.
If you have been rather active during the day and your hands have frequently come into contact with many surfaces or objects that may not have been wiped down and disinfected prior, you can also soak your rings in a rubbing alcohol solution. Anti-bacterial wipes are another alternative as you can carefully wipe down your rings, or spray some disinfectant on a towelette and do the same.
Laura advises: “For sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, garnet and diamond jewellery, generally speaking, contact with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser will not damage your gemstone. However, once the alcohol in the hand sanitiser solution has evaporated, there is a chance that a residual film layer will contribute to dulling the brilliance of the gemstone. It is hence recommended to soak the ring in lukewarm soapy water and then rinse it with clear cold water to remove any surface layer. Dab the ring in a soft, absorbent cloth after the final rinse, to avoid any water stains on the surface. The use of chlorine-based sanitisers should be avoided to protect the integrity of the gold. Chlorine attacks the copper that can be found in gold solders and contributes to solder joints becoming brittle and display discolouration.”
The bottom line is, we must clean, sanitise, wash and disinfect our way through this pandemic without missing the intricate stuff. We do not have to do away with anything that we are unsure of how to manage, including jewellery. As Laura puts it, “In times of crisis it is inspiring to look at beautiful things that remind us that life can be beautiful”.