Have you got a piece of jewelry you wear every day? Perhaps it holds sentimental value or maybe it features your favorite gemstone?
Now be honest, how often do you remove that piece of jewelry when you take a shower or go for a swim? If the answer is never, you could be doing your favorite piece of jewelry more harm than good.
We hate to say it but there isn’t a lot of waterproof jewelry out there. Sure, some metal types are more resistant than others but whilst they may be okay to undergo a quick clean with a splash of water, submerging them for excessive periods or wearing them in the swimming pool could be problematic.
Here we’ll look at different types of jewelry and identify whether they are in fact waterproof. We’ll touch on how you can potentially make your jewelry more waterproof and finally, sum up whether it’s generally a good idea to wear your jewelry in the pool or shower.
Which materials are used for waterproof jewelry?
Before we look at how different jewelry types fare in water, it’s a good idea to know why some materials tarnish. Basically, tarnishing is the result of a chemical reaction between the metal in your jewelry and moisture. It causes a thin layer of corrosion, which discolors jewelry and over time leads to weakness and permanent damage.
It’s worth knowing that it’s not just moisture from wearing your jewelry in the shower or pool that can cause tarnishing but also moisture in the air or from your skin, in the form of sweat.
As we said before, some jewelry types are less prone to tarnishing than others, so let’s take a look and see which fares best and could even be deemed waterproof jewelry…
Stainless steel jewelry
Stainless steel is an affordable metal that is commonly used to make jewelry such as rings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches. Some of the reasons it’s so favorable are that it’s hypoallergenic, very durable and extremely resistant to water.
Unlike many other metals, stainless steel will not rust or tarnish as a result of contact with water. If you’re a keen swimmer or play a lot of sport and are looking for active jewelry, you’d be wise to choose pieces made from stainless steel.
It may look delicate in design but braided jewelry made from wax cord, like friendship bracelets and stacking bracelets, is usually waterproof. Sure it’ll get wet but leave it to dry in the sun and it’ll be just fine.
Durable and long-lasting, sterling silver is a popular choice for rings, necklaces, bracelets and cuff links but without proper care, it will soon tarnish.
Showering in your sterling silver jewelry shouldn’t harm the metal itself but can induce tarnishing and discoloration. We’d suggest removing it before stepping into water that contains chlorine, like swimming pools and hot tubs as this can harm the metal.
As a side tip – you can purchase sterling silver jewelry that contains a higher percentage of germanium. This will toughen up the metal, making it a harder version of silver (a little like fine silver) and help to prevent tarnishing. Sterling silver of this quality will be less likely to react negatively in water but we’d still avoid spending too long in a chlorinated pool.
You may be wondering is gold waterproof? And the answer is a little ambiguous. You see, showering in gold jewelry will not harm the metal itself, however, it may reduce its shine.
Choosing gold for swimming pool jewelry is not advisable. The harsh chemicals will attack the metals alloyed with your gold, creating microscopic bubbles in your jewelry. Over time, prolonged exposure to these chemicals will make your gold jewelry brittle and weak.
Do the right thing and remove your gold jewelry before getting into the water. Gold jewelry isn’t designed to be waterproof jewelry and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Gold and silver plated jewelry
Plated jewelry has a microscopic layer of gold or silver, which is plated (as the name suggests) on top of a base metal like iron, nickel, copper, brass or titanium. The process is commonly used for fashion jewelry as it offers a lovely finish but isn’t too expensive to make.
Unfortunately, plating does wear off over time and the base metals are prone to oxidizing and corroding.
With this in mind, it’s not really a good idea to swim or shower in gold or silver plated jewelry.
Platinum is a rare and expensive metal. A popular choice for engagement rings and wedding bands, it is extremely durable and will not tarnish.
Having said this, it’s still best to avoid wearing platinum jewelry in water. Whilst it may be deemed waterproof jewelry, as it won’t be damaged by water, over time it could lose its shine.
Regarding swimming, chlorine shouldn’t affect platinum jewelry but that’s providing it’s made from 100% platinum. If it contains any silver or gold, it’s better to take your jewelry off before going swimming or risk permanent damage.
Gemstone and diamond jewelry
Whether or not you can wear gemstone and diamond jewelry in water depends on the type of stone.
Organic gems like natural pearls and coral are fine in salt water but won’t fare well in a chlorinated pool.
Never wear semi-precious stones that are soft, such as turquoise, opal, and emeralds in swimming pools, as the chlorine will bleach and discolor them.
Harder precious stones like diamonds, sapphires and rubies are more tolerant of chlorine, however, water can still damage them, as can the products you use in the shower. Natural oils, soap, and lotion can form a film on your gemstones, resulting in less brilliance and sparkle.
It’s always best to take off your precious stone jewelry and leave it in a safe place like a waterproof jewelry pouch before showering or swimming.
5 tips for buying active jewelry
As you can see, there isn’t a lot of choices when it comes to buying waterproof jewelry. However, if you’re set on buying active jewelry to wear when you’re playing sports or swimming, here are a few tips to help you make the right choice…
- Choose stainless steel jewelry as it’s the best waterproof jewelry
- Make sure the piece of jewelry is lightweight and comfortable to wear
- Avoid precious gemstones that could discolor or be damaged in water
- Make sure the jewelry has a secure clasp and is well-fitting
- Avoid spending a fortune on active jewelry as if you wear it in water or whilst playing sport, it could be at risk of damage or loss.
Can you modify jewelry to make it waterproof?
Just because there aren’t many jewelry materials that are really reliable to wear in the water, doesn’t mean you can’t try and make them more waterproof.
Many craft and hardware stores sell sealant sprays, containing silicone, which you can use to protect your jewelry. Spraying your jewelry with a sealant will help to form a barrier between the metal and water, oxygen and other elements that can cause rusting and tarnishing. Always do your research before using a sealant spray and check that it will not alter the look of your jewelry.
If you search on the web for ways to create waterproof jewelry, you’ll find that many sites suggest painting your pieces with clear nail polish. Whilst this should help to form a barrier between your jewelry and the elements, we’d only really suggest trying it on cheap costume or fashion jewelry. Painting your diamond engagement ring with clear nail polish is never going to end well!
If you do try this method, be prepared to reapply the nail polish periodically. It may flake off and could affect the overall finish of your jewelry.
Is it a good idea to wear jewelry in water?
When considering whether or not waterproof jewelry is really reliable to wear in water, you need to remember that generally speaking, it isn’t water that causes the most damage. No damage should occur from short exposure to water unless of course, the water contains other chemicals.
Water found in pools and hot tubs contains various amounts of chlorine and other harsh chemicals designed to clean the water and kill off bacteria. Unfortunately, the chlorine will not only dull and tarnish most jewelry but over time, can even cause irreversible damage, as a result of making jewelry metal brittle and weak.
Although it’s possible to buy waterproof jewelry made from non-corrosive metals, like stainless steel. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid wearing most other types of jewelry in the shower (where it may come into contact with soap and oils) and swimming pools.
Prolong the life of your jewelry and get your money’s worth by keeping it safe and dry.
If a retailer is selling waterproof jewelry, don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out whether it’s the real deal and make sure there’s a guarantee to back it up.
What’s your experience with waterproof jewelry?
Do you have any pieces you regularly wear in water? What are they made of and have they tarnished in any way? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!