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Hand Cleaners and Your Jewelry

Hand Cleaners and Your Jewelry


With all this extra hand washing and sanitizing going on, we can see what it is doing to our hands but what about our jewelry? Our clients have been reaching out to us asking if the overuse of hand soaps and sanitizers could potentially harm their beautiful jewelry. We stand behind the need to constantly clean our hands with soap and water, to sterilize around our homes, and to use hand sanitizer liberally. However, we want to explain thoroughly what that cleaning and sanitizing might do to your jewelry, especially your rings. Since unfortunately, you aren’t able to stop in to Braunschweiger for a professional cleaning at the moment, we have some tips for you.

Basic soap and water will not harm most gems or metals; it will only create a soapy buildup that will eventually cloud the gems. All mild soap buildup is removeable with a good jewelry cleaning, which we are happy to do at our store the next time you visit. If you want to keep your jewelry clean, when you are in a private, safe space, take your rings off when you soap up. Keep a little tray or case next to your sink where you can place them so they don’t get lost. However, if you are in a public space like work or a grocery store, it is probably best not to take them off unless you bring a safe box or case to put them in until you can put them back on.

If you are using stronger cleaners that might contain bleach or abrasives, then we recommend you take your rings off. These can be very harmful to precious metals and gemstones. You should use gloves at all times or take the jewelry off before using these products.

Hand sanitizers containing alcohol are generally not harmful to most gems and precious metals. However, a few softer or more porous gems might be damaged by repeated exposure. These include pearls, emerald, coral, lapis and opal. If you are going out (to a store or to work) and anticipate using hand sanitizer, it would be best to leave those rings home. Over time, alcohol can strip gems of natural water and essential oils, and in many cases the damage will be irreversible. Also remember to never spray any aerosols (including perfume and makeup, but also sanitizing sprays) directly on your pearls. Be sure to wait at least 5 minutes before putting pearls back on, so the spray/sanitizer can dry thoroughly.

If your rings develop a foggy buildup underneath and you want to clean them yourself until you can get them professionally cleaned, use a solution of soap and water, and then scrub with a soft old toothbrush underneath. Do not use toothpaste on jewelry and silver, even if that’s what your grandmother used! The abrasives that clean your teeth so well can harm the surface of many gems and most precious metals, making them permanently dull.

These times we are going through call for prioritizing…and your health is the most important thing to us. Wash your hands often as you can, as you go about this new lifestyle. Put your more fragile jewelry away in a safe place for now, but in a place you will remember! If you have any questions, please contact us at and we will do our best to respond quickly with our best advice.

Be safe and stay healthy.

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