How Sweat Affects Your Jewellery

How Sweat Affects Your Jewellery

As the weather gets hotter and we start wearing less and less clothing, you’ll want to consider how sweat affects your jewellery. Other surprising things that will affect your jewellery include perfume, lotions, and sunscreen. The summer months are not kind to jewellery. However, you can prevent damaging your jewellery with proper care. 

You may have noticed your jewellery becoming dull or discoloured over time if you frequently wear something. This process is called oxidation, and it’s caused by wearing down the outermost layer of your jewellery’s metal. Some artists may purposely oxidize silver to achieve a specific look but this is not the same as oxidation due to wear. The best way to prevent wear and tarnishing like this is to consistently care for and maintain your jewellery. Here’s how sweat affects your jewellery and how you can properly care for your jewellery.

The Best Jewellery To Wear While Working Out

The best jewellery to wear while working out is no jewellery at all! We highly advise against wearing any kind of jewellery while working out, especially if it’s high quality, one-of-a-kind, or hand-crafted.

You’re likely going to sweat during your workout. Your sweat will damage and wear down your jewellery. Aside from damaging your jewellery, wearing jewellery during a workout can pose certain safety risks. Certain styles like dangle earrings, hoop earrings, and long-chain necklaces are incredibly dangerous to wear while exercising. Your jewellery can get caught on clothing and machines, which could damage both your body and jewellery.  

How Sweat Affects Your Jewellery

Our fingers, palms, and hands have more sweat glands than anywhere else on the body. The other highly-dense areas are the neck and forehead. Exercising puts the body into a metabolic state during which we produce 10 to 20 percent more sweat than normal. This means that the normal rate at which your jewellery is supposed to wear is increased during this time.

silver rings with brassy bands. This image shows two rings that have been worn down over time due to sweat and body oils.

Rings, bracelets, earrings, and certain areas on your necklaces will discolour from your sweat and body oils. For example, my necklace detangler is much more worn in than the necklaces I normally wear with it. This happened for two reasons: one, the detangler is super low-quality so it’s likely to wear much faster than my necklaces; two, the detangler sits in an area with more sweat glands than the rest of my body.

Necklace detangler with red and black oxidation due to sweat. This image shows that some jewellery wears faster than others due to the materials and where they sit on the body.

You may notice that over time your jewellery may turn red, black, or brassy. Additionally, the jewellery may even turn your skin black or green from the wear. Neither of these things are physically harmful but it certainly doesn’t look great. 

Certain gemstones will discolor or lose their luster due to natural body oils and sweat. Check to see how hard your favourite gemstones are according to the Mohs hardness scale. Softer stones such as opals typically tend to lose their luster easily and may even discolour from sweat. 

Also Read: Mohs Hardness Scale Explained

How Water Affects Your Jewellery

Similarly to working out, you should also remove your jewellery if you’re going to the beach, pool, or lake. The salt, chemicals, and bacteria in the water will affect your jewellery. Even the water from your shower can erode the metals. Unless the jewellery is something you don’t care that much about, like a pair of cheap studs from Claires, remove it before getting wet. The only time you shouldn’t remove jewellery before getting wet is if you have a new piercing that’s still healing. If you have a new piercing and you’re unsure about whether you can get it wet, consult your piercer. 

Also Read: How To Travel With Jewellery (Packing Tips and FAQ)

Can I Wear Sunscreen, Lotion, and Cosmetic Products With Jewellery?

Sunscreen is essential to maintain healthy skin and prevent sun damage. Unfortunately, sunscreen and other cosmetic products like lotions, perfumes, and makeup will affect our jewellery. 

Always apply your sunscreen and lotions before putting on your jewellery. Try to wait for your lotions to fully dry before putting your jewellery on. Avoid wearing non-essential cosmetic products and jewellery with softer stones during the summer. Even with careful application, products can get underneath stones and into crevices of your jewellery. 

Before putting your jewellery away, be sure to thoroughly clean your jewellery with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. If you need some extra help cleaning your jewellery, you can always bring your jewellery into Artina’s to have it professionally cleaned with an ultrasonic cleanser. Consistently caring for your jewellery prolongs the life of your cherished piece.

Also Read: How To Clean Your Jewellery At Home

Why Does Some Jewellery Wear Faster Than Others?

Not all jewellery is made the same. Certain materials tend to wear faster than others. For example, jewellery that’s only plated with gold will wear faster than filled jewellery. This isn’t to say that gold-plated jewellery, whether plated on brass or silver, is necessarily “bad.” Filled jewellery is made with more gold material and is fused with the base layer, prolonging the wear time. It’s important to note that different materials will wear differently than other materials.

Also Read: The Difference Between Gold-Filled and Gold-Plated

Sterling silver and other silver materials will oxidize, often turning dull, grey, or black. Although certain artists may choose to include this look in their designs, oxidation due to wear will appear inconsistent and dull. When purchasing silver jewellery, check to see what material it’s made out of. Sterling silver, 925 silver, and surgical steel will have a longer wear time than silver plated on say nickel and brass. 

Make note of what materials you’re wearing, as your body’s natural sweat and oils will wear down jewellery differently than others. Certain materials will wear faster and others may react differently. For example, gold jewellery may begin to look reddish or brassy over time. On the other hand, silver tends to turn blackish.  

Know When To Remove Your Jewellery

Now that you know how sweat affects your jewellery, you’ll want to consider how you need to protect your investment. We went over quite a lot in this blog, so let’s quickly recap some things we went over. Avoid wearing jewellery during the following activities:

  • Exercising
  • Going to the beach, pool, or lake
  • While applying lotions and sunscreens

Certain items, like rings and bracelets will wear faster than others since they are worn on the sweatiest places on your body. And certain materials will wear differently than others. It’s important for you to note what jewellery has a higher chance of wearing down. 

A common sign of wear is greenish or bluish skin. Although this reaction is unsightly, it’s completely safe and should wash off. If you begin to develop a rash, hives, or your skin feels itchy, remove your jewellery immediately. You may be having an allergic reaction to the materials in your jewellery.

Always remember to properly care for your jewellery by storing it in a soft jewellery box or pouch. Regularly clean your jewellery, especially after wearing lotions and sunscreen. 

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