The world has drastically changed in the last few weeks, but it feels like overnight we’ve all had to stock up on supplies and food, adjust our lives, and stay inside. The single unifying aspect is the need to stop the spread of COVID-19. As you sanitize and purify your life, one of the most common yet overlooked things amidst the craze is jewelry and gemstones.
While we all vigorously apply hand sanitizer and wash our hands, what’s happening to the little items we wear every day? Is jewelry a hotbed for bacteria? And if so, could your jewelry and gemstones be harboring a lethal virus?
Many hard, durable gemstones aren’t at risk of being damaged by hand sanitizer. What about softer, more brittle gemstones like opal? Is hand sanitizer bad for opal?
There’s a mine full of information to excavate on this subject, so let’s get right to it.
Your gemstones and opal jewelry items are precious, but nothing is more crucial than staying healthy. Right now, your personal hygiene routine can make the difference between sickness and health. Unfortunately, even if you apply hand sanitizer 100 times a day and wash your hands frequently, are you really eliminating all the bacteria in your jewelry? Furthermore, is wearing your jewelry during this outbreak going to harm it?
Those are two very important questions we need to explore further.
Washing your hands and applying hand sanitizer isn’t enough to keep you safe when you’re wearing jewelry. Why? Because germs and bacteria can live and grow within the small harbor of your rings, bracelets, and wedding bands. What does that mean? That even if you wash your hands appropriately and apply hand sanitizer often, your jewelry might diminish your hygiene habits.
A startling 2018 study revealed that healthcare workers who wore jewelry on the job had bacteria where their rings and jewelry sat against their skin. Conversely, workers who left their jewelry at home had fewer bacteria.
In summary, taking your rings and hand jewelry off while you sanitize is only one part of the equation. In order to effectively kill all bacteria, you need to also clean your jewelry. But what if soaps and hand sanitizers are bad for opal jewelry? Does this mean you have to bid farewell to your opal items until the outbreak passes? Not necessarily, but you’ll want to be extra cautious about mixing opal with hand sanitizer.
Unfortunately, yes. Hand sanitizer isn’t safe for certain items, as it can cause cracking and surface damage. A prime example? Opal. The reason hand sanitizer is bad for opal is that it’s a porous gemstone, meaning it absorbs water and liquids.
Of course, there are exceptions. Australian opal is a variety that isn’t porous or hydrophane, so it won’t necessarily absorb hand sanitizer. Still, that doesn’t mean you are out of the woods. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can damage or dry out the surface of the opal, causing visible cracks. For porous opals like Ethiopian opal, you may risk permanent and irreparable damage from repeated exposure to hand sanitizer.
If you absolutely insist on wearing your opal jewelry, be sure to follow this step by step process to keep yourself, and your opal, safe:
You’re ready to go. But doesn’t this seem like a lot of steps to take to wear your opal jewelry? We know how much you love your opals, but
the safest way to avoid the growth of bacteria and damage to your opals is to leave them at home.
Bottom line: hand sanitizer is bad for opal, and it’s simply not worth risking your jewels for fashion at this moment in time. This is especially true if you have an heirloom opal that can’t be replaced. Coupling the danger to your opal is the risk for bacteria to grow within the cracks or crevices of your opal jewelry. Instead of fussing over your jewelry, put safety first.
Have you already been wearing your opal jewelry for the last few weeks? Don’t worry, you can still rectify the situation. It’s time to give your opals a bath! Don’t wash your opal jewelry directly in the sink, but instead, follow the routine listed above from the countertop. Wash your opal jewelry in a protective dish or basin with warm, dish-soap water. You can use any non-detergent, fragrance-free dish soap to cut away the grime and buildup. Really let them soak to remove all bacteria that may have built up from the recent use of hand sanitizer.
We don’t know how long the rippling effects of Coronavirus are going to last. What we do know is that we are capable of making wise decisions to protect ourselves. The current circumstances will leave their mark on history. You don’t want to compromise your health, and the health of your loved ones, which means the safest thing to do is leave your precious jewelry items at home.
Take care to stow your opal in a safe, lined jewelry box and out of dust and the elements. Once the storm passes and this virus is contained, you can rinse up your opals and flaunt them all over town.
Before you know it, life will resume back to normal and you’ll fall in love with your opals all over again!
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