Is It Okay to Get Turquoise Jewelry Wet?

Turquoise is a popular semiprecious gemstone that has been used in jewelry and decorations for thousands of years. Its striking blue-green color and natural variations make it a beautiful addition to necklaces, rings, bracelets, and more. But turquoise is also a relatively soft and porous stone that requires some special care, especially when it comes to water. So is it okay to get turquoise jewelry wet? Read on for tips on wearing turquoise jewelry in and around water.

The Short Answer

In general, brief contact with water is okay for turquoise jewelry. But prolonged exposure to water can damage the stone. So it’s best to avoid swimming, showering, or submerging turquoise jewelry for long periods of time. Quick splashes and handwashing are fine, but take care to dry the piece right away.

The Properties of Turquoise

Turquoise is a copper aluminum phosphate mineral that rates between 5 and 6 on the Mohs hardness scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest. For comparison, diamonds rate a 10 while pearls rate a 2.5 to 4.5. This means turquoise is relatively soft and can be scratched or damaged by harder materials.

Turquoise also has a porous, non-crystalline structure that makes it absorbent. When immersed in water, the stone can soak up liquid, which leads to discoloration and breakdown of the material. Additionally, the copper in turquoise can oxidize or corrode when exposed to acidic substances like perfumes or soaps that are often present in water.

While pure turquoise is inert and stable, much of the turquoise used in jewelry contains impurities and binders that make it more susceptible to damage from water exposure over time. These factors mean prolonged contact with water is not recommended.

Brief Water Exposure

Luckily, brief encounters with water will not ruin a turquoise piece. Washing your hands while wearing turquoise rings or bracelets is perfectly fine. Just be sure to dry the jewelry thoroughly afterwards with a soft, lint-free cloth. The occasional splash or short stint in the rain probably won’t hurt either, as long as the turquoise doesn’t remain damp for an extended period.

Care should be taken with soaps, cleaners, and cosmetics that can cling to the surface of turquoise. These substances contain chemicals that can potentially react with the copper in the gemstone, especially with repeated exposure. Make sure to rinse turquoise thoroughly after using any harsh soaps or cleaners.

It’s also best to apply hairspray, perfume, and makeup prior to putting on your turquoise jewelry. This will prevent chemicals in beauty products from coming into prolonged contact with the surface of the stone.

Swimming, Showers, and Bathing

What turquoise jewelry definitely does not like are prolonged dips in chlorinated pools or soaks in hot tubs. The chemicals and prolonged moisture exposure will seep into the stone, causing discoloration, cracks, and other damage over time. Salt water can also penetrate and degrade turquoise.

It’s best to leave turquoise jewelry behind when showering, taking a bath, or engaging in any other water activities that will submerge the piece. Even brief dips in hot water, like while washing dishes by hand, are not great as repeated exposure to high temperatures can impact the color and integrity of turquoise.

For relaxed soaking in a tub, it’s safer to take off your turquoise rings, bracelets, or necklaces beforehand. And think twice before wearing your turquoise earrings or other jewelry in a hot sauna or steam room, as the combination of heat and moisture pose a high risk for damage.

Caring for Turquoise Jewelry

To keep turquoise jewelry looking its best, follow these care tips:

  • Remove turquoise pieces before showering, swimming, bathing, or strenuous activity where damage could occur.
  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure and high heat, which can dry out the stone.
  • Gently clean with a soft toothbrush and mild, non-abrasive soap and rinse well.
  • Use a jewelry polishing cloth to restore shine.
  • When not wearing, store turquoise in a fabric-lined box away from other gemstones to prevent scratching.
  • Consider having turquoise jewelry re-waxed every few years by a jeweler to maintain its protective coating.

By being mindful of water exposure and giving turquoise jewelry proper everyday care, you can safely enjoy wearing this colorful stone without worry. Use common sense when wearing turquoise rings, pendants, earrings or cuffs to prevent damage, and your pieces will remain beautiful for many years to come.