Common knowledge used to say that it was taboo to wear jewelry to the beach. We’ve overturned that fashion rule alongside “don’t wear white after Labor Day.” Whether you’re at the beach for surf and sun, a wedding or just a day on the Boardwalk, it’s time to have fun and accessorize.
With that said, we do still have some tips to share about the types of jewelry you should choose. A beach environment can damage some materials more than others, and you may want to leave some particular pieces at home. We’ll walk you through common beach hazards and help you choose the best jewelry for whatever your day has in store.
What Jewelry Can You Wear in the Ocean?
It’s a warm, beautiful day on the beach. The sun is shining, the waves are calling, and you can’t wait to get in the water. Is your jewelry as ready for a dip as you are?
It’s been a wonderful day at the beach. The sun was hot and bright, making the cool ocean water feel even better every time you dove in. You had a lovely dinner on the Boardwalk. You even managed to keep a straight face when you saw a seagull dive down to steal an entire hot dog, bun and all.
Now you’re pleasantly tired and finally getting ready for bed. As you take your necklace off, you realize that the setting for one of the stones seems a little loose. That’s odd — you don’t remember it being loose this morning. What happened?
The secret is in the saltwater. More specifically, it’s in the salt. The salt in ocean water will corrode metals and leave them weakened and tarnished. Saltwater poses a particular risk for jewelry made with blue or rose gold, both of which are gold alloys. Blue gold uses iron and rose gold uses copper, both metals that salt will quickly corrode.
Most other metals will show less obvious evidence, though corrosion is still taking place. Solid gold, gold-filled, platinum, and sterling silver jewelry are the best at handling salt water. The biggest concern about saltwater damage to jewelry is that the salt will weaken thinner areas more quickly. Some of those more delicate areas are the solder points securing prongs for a gem setting. As the solder points grow weaker, the prongs loosen, and you may be at risk of losing the stones.
What are the do’s and don’ts of protecting your jewelry from saltwater damage?
The surf rolls in, and shrieks of laughter fill the air whenever a wave knocks someone off their feet. You’ve been happily wading and swimming out here for ten or fifteen minutes. The cold water was a shock at first, but the sun is beating down, and now it just feels nice. You know that it’s best to remove your jewelry before you go swimming, so you left all of your jewelry on the beach.
Except for your wedding ring, of course. You never take that off. It’s a plain gold band, though, with no settings to loosen, so you’re sure it will be fine. Lifting your hands to push the hair out of your face, and you realize the ring is gone.
When your body is cold, most of your blood flow is redirected to your core to ensure your organs keep working. As circulation goes down in your extremities, their blood vessels contract and those extremities shrink. The difference is usually too subtle to spot with the naked eye, but it’s enough for a ring that normally fits perfectly to slip off of your finger.
In addition to temperature changes, the waves themselves might also be responsible for missing or damaged jewelry. Delicate items like cords or thin chains can break or slip off in rough surf. Unbacked earrings may also fall out when you duck your head underwater.
What are the do’s and don’ts of keeping your jewelry in place?
The ocean is calm today, which is just how you like it. You’re out just deep enough to tread water, enjoying the coolness all around you as you watch the bright blue sky. Even the noise from the beach behind you seems a little bit calmer from out here. You drift out a little farther, wondering how far you can go before a lifeguard calls you back.
A slight shift in the current hits your leg. Then something catches at the little silver anklet above your foot and gives an exploratory tug.
Lifeguards keep a close eye on the water for potential dangers and post warnings if it’s unsafe to swim. Still, oceans are full of all sorts of creatures, and some of those creatures can be curious. You can make encounters with sea creatures even less likely through conscientious jewelry choices.
Shiny jewelry in the water can be like a fishing lure. Ocean mammals and fish see contrast very well from underwater and can mistake light reflecting off of metal for the gleam of fish scales. They may then swim up to investigate the light and movement. That investigation might not lead to injury, but at the very least, it’s likely to give you an alarming spike of adrenaline.
What are the do’s and don’ts of avoiding unwanted sea life encounters?