Does Perfume Damage Jewelry? Here’s What We Found!

When you choose to look good by wearing your expensive jewelry, you also often want to make sure that you smell good by wearing a good perfume! But, is using perfume together with jewelry a good idea? Does perfume damage jewelry?

Consistent exposure to perfume does damage jewelry due to the presence of oils, synthetics including ethyl alcohol, and certain color dyes. These ingredients can cause jewelry to lose its sheen, erode metal coatings, or create a dull layer making the jewelry appear discolored.

It is advised to apply perfume on the skin and let it dry before you wear jewelry. 

In case you are wondering if or how perfume ruins imitation jewelry or even jewelry made of natural metals such as gold, silver, or gemstones such as diamonds, or even real pearls, then continue reading!

Does Perfume affect Gold?

Perfume corrodes the metal alloys that are used to create gold jewelry but does not ruin gold itself. The perfume will discolor or dull the gold alloy used in the ornament. 

It is important to note that gold jewelry is not made of 100% gold as pure gold is extremely malleable and doesn’t have the strength to be used for jewelry. Thus, all gold jewelry contains various alloys to provide it with the necessary strength.

These metal alloys usually react negatively to the synthetic chemicals in the jewelry. Here is a quick reference table to check which metal is used in your colored gold jewelry:

An Illustration of Common Gold Types, Alloys Used and Affect of Perfume

Gold TypeGold CompositionAlloys UsedDamaged by Perfume?
Yellow Gold (22k) 91.67%Silver (5%), Copper (2%), Zinc (1.33%)Yes
Rose Gold (18k)75%Copper (22.25%), Silver (2.75%)Yes
White Gold (18k)75%Palladium (10%), Nickle (10%), Zinc (5%)Yes
For other types of Gold and its alloys, click on (Source)

Thus, as explained, even though the impact of perfume on gold itself might be minimal, but the reaction of perfume ingredients with the other alloys present in the gold jewelry can damage the jewelry.

The loss in sheen will mostly be seen when perfume is applied on jewelry that either has low-quality gold plating or is made of colored gold i.e. mixed with rhodium, copper, or silver.

Will Perfume Ruin Silver?

You may be wondering that while perfume may damage gold jewelry but does it affect silver jewelry as well?

Silver is known to oxidize quite quickly. The case is the same even when it comes to the silver used in jewelry.

Chemicals present in perfume can abrase silver jewelry giving it a brown or black hue. This is because all silver jewelry reacts to both oxidation and chemicals.

Does Perfume Damage Sterling Silver?

Perfume can abrase sterling silver jewelry and turn it dull or give it a greenish hue due the fragrance oils and alcohol used. The perfume starts to corrode the copper used in sterling silver jewelry and, much like humidity or sweat, will cause a green discoloration. 

Can Perfume Damage Diamonds?

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Diamonds take millions of years to form under intense heat and pressure. It is one of the hardest natural materials found in the world! Thus, it is natural to assume that diamonds would be impervious to perfume exposure. However, the truth is quite different from what you may imagine it to be!

Perfumes can damage diamonds and all other natural gemstones. The essential oils in perfume, if not cleaned regularly, build-up on diamonds and start to give them a dull, yellow hue. The presence of chemicals in perfume reduces the brilliance of diamonds.

The essential oil residue can also leave a coat of oil that starts to even discolor the jewel mountings!

Jewelry experts recommend that if your diamonds have gotten soiled due to perfume, lotions, soap, or hair sprays then it is best that you use a soft toothbrush dipped in a solution of 6 part water to 1 part ammonia to clean them out. 

Can Perfume Damage Pearls?

Pearls are especially susceptible to perfume and can easily smudge, abrase and discolor. Even natural fragrance oils in perfume will react with the pearls and make them lose their natural shine. It is important to wear perfume 10 mins before wearing jewelry, especially pearls, to reduce the contact with the chemicals. 

It is recommended that to keep pearls clean and away from the effect of both natural oils and fragrance oils, you use a gentle damp cloth to wipe them down, dry out and store separately in zip lock bags.

Does Perfume Damage Imitation Jewelry?

One common belief is that perfume can only damage jewelery made of pure metal such as gold and silver. Thus, people often tend to continue using perfume on imitation jewelry thinking it will not get damaged.

Jewelry – whether real or imitation – is damaged by perfume, lotions, make-up, and sweat.  Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette or Eau de Cologne – all have synthetics materials that contribute to the corrosion of jewelry over time.

It is important to note that even the most organic fragrant oils can leave a thin film over the jewelry which will dull its brilliance over time. 

Thus, take some precautions while using jewelry and perfume together.

How to Get Perfume Smell out of Jewelry?

Since perfumes have fragrance oils, these smells build giving jewelry a bad odor. To keep jewelry clean and rid of any smells – including perfume – try these simple hacks. 

To get the perfume smell out of jewelry, use a mixture of water, baking soda, and white vinegar. Take a bowl of warm water, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and four ounces of vinegar. Soak your jewelry in this mixture for 2-3 hours to remove the smell and black or green hue.

Another option is to freshen up jewelry in a homemade cleaning solution. Just take a bowl of plain water and squirt half a lemon in it. You can also optionally add a tablespoon of salt as well. Place the jewelry in this lemon water bath for 15 minutes, rinse out with cold water, and pat dry.

Pro-Tip:
Do not soak diamond, pearls or any natural gemstones in any homemade cleaning solutions, or dishwashing liquids, as the acidic nature of these liquids will corrode them.

This option works well with imitation jewelry. Remember not to dip diamonds or pearls in this cleaning solution, as the acid in the lemon will react badly!

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