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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, we have all significantly increased our usage of hand sanitizer, making it one of the scarcest and valuable commodities in this pandemic. During these unprecedented times, it is so important to keep yourself safe and healthy by practicing hygiene and sanitizing your hands. However, could this new increased usage of hand sanitizer be damaging to our engagement rings and fine jewelry?

Will hand sanitizer ruin the finish on diamond rings, like The Caroline Elizabeth?

Will hand sanitizer ruin my engagement ring?

First, you need to figure out what type of hand sanitizer you’re using. There are two types of hand sanitizer, alcohol based and non-alcohol based.

Alcohol based sanitizer contains isopropyl or ethyl alcohol mixed with water, glycerin, and sometimes fragrance. The CDC recommends using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol

Alcohol based hand sanitizers will not have a negative effect on your jewelry when used in moderation. Note: that we are talking about durable gemstones and metals like diamonds, sapphires, rubies, yellow gold, non-rhodium plated white gold, platinum, and palladium. However, repeated use over time may have a negative effect on your engagement ring including diminished brilliance of stones, lack of metal shine, and loosened engagement ring prongs.

The alcohol in the hand sanitizer can also cause a buildup or film between your stones and your metal. Here at Abby Sparks Jewelry, we never use rhodium plated white gold, but if your engagement ring is rhodium plated increased use of hand sanitizer can contribute to that plating breaking down and wearing away faster than usual.

Non-alcohol based sanitizers typically contain an antibacterial – like triclosan, and antiseptic – like iodine, and some type of chloride cleaning agent. If you are using alcohol free hand sanitizer, the harsh chlorine chemicals it contains can tarnish your jewels.

How to Protect Your Engagement Ring From Hand Sanitizer

It is possible to keep up important hygiene practices and protect your ring. 

To avoid damage to your engagement ring from long term use of hand sanitizer, slip off your ring and put it in a little jewelry dish, or on a necklace chain to wear on your neck. Then you can safely rub the hand sanitizer into your hands without worrying about damage. When your hands have completely dried, it’s safe to put your ring back on. This solution works for any harsh cleaning products that you may be using during this time, as the majority of them contain chemicals that are damaging to gemstones and metal. If you are unable to take your ring off, then we recommend wearing gloves when handling these products.

Of course you should put the hygiene and safety of your health before anything else, your engagement ring is important, but your life and health are worth far far more. To protect yourself from the bacteria that can accumulate on your ring without damaging it, be sure to clean your ring at least once per week using this method.