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It’s summertime and the living is…well, I don’t know about easy, but it’s sunnier than usual! Many of us have vacays coming up and I know we’ll want to travel with jewelry, so let’s take a minute to talk about how to travel with jewelry as safely and carefully as possible.

Bon Voyage: How to travel with jewelry

Wearing flashy or fine jewelry in public is always some level of a risk, but when you’re away from home, staying somewhere that’s not fully under your control, and very obviously a tourist, there is much more risk than usual – and that risk can endanger both you and your jewelry.

But vacay mode requires fun outfits, and fun outfits require jewelry, so what is a jewelry lover to do? Don’t worry, there are things you can do help make it as safe as possible to travel with your pretties.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not legal advice and no amount of care can guarantee that your jewelry will be safe while you travel.

Leave it at home

Part of traveling safely with jewelry is being strategic. If you’re staying in a busy hotel and you’ll be sitting on the beach all day, leave your grandmother’s diamond tennis bracelet at home.

In fact, the best piece of advice I can give you for how to travel with jewelry is this: never travel with anything you can’t bear to lose.

Or at least, keep the number of items you couldn’t bear to lose to a minimum. I usually bring my engagement ring when I travel, but it’s always either on my person or locked up. And while I might bring one or two other nice pieces, I leave the heirlooms at home.

Jewelry travel storage case options; the Alice jewelry keep by Rowallan, necklace compartment.

Keep it with you.

When you travel with jewelry, pack a small enough amount that it can stay on your body, in your purse, or in your carry-on until you reach your destination.

While in transit, you should be able to touch the bag that contains your jewelry at any moment. Never ever ever EVER put jewelry in checked luggage or in any other bag that will be out of your control. Things can be so easily lost, smashed, damaged, or stolen.

I recommend getting a good jewelry travel case to keep your treasures comfortable while they’re in your bag. It should make sure that necklaces won’t tangle, earrings won’t bend, and rings won’t rub against each other while packed.

Take it off.

Are you going to the beach? Putting on sunscreen? Hiking? Kayaking? Getting a spa treatment? Take your jewelry off! I know you don’t want to, but you need to. TAKE IT OFF.

I was chatting with my local jeweler the other day and he told me that his store’s gold buyback program sees an enormous uptick in the amount of wedding rings turned in during the summer, because locals with metal detectors head out to the beach every week and their teams find, on average, 10 lost wedding rings per person per day. The reason is simple: hot, humid summer air makes fingers swell, so that rings seem like they fit securely. Then when those fingers hit cold water, the skin rapidly shrinks and rings slip off into the water or sand, never to be seen again.

How to travel with jewelry! Photo shows me wearing my antique gargoryle ring in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Lock it up.

When you travel with jewelry, you need a way to secure your jewelry when it isn’t on your body. Many hotels offer in-room safes, which are always a decent option – although these safes can be accessed by people who work at the hotel, so they’re not impenetrable. (Also if you want to be horrified about the possible dangers of traveling with jewelry, go watch Season 1 of the tv show White Lotus.)

I like to use a travel safe when I travel with jewelry. I have something like this, which is a safe pouch that you secure by padlocking it to a sturdy structure in your hotel room, like a closet bar, bathroom pipes, or immovable piece of furniture. It’s not foolproof, but every obstacle that makes it harder for someone to steal your jewelry is a good thing.

When does your jewelry need to be locked up? Any time it’s not within your sight. Theft and loss can still happen, but reducing opportunity makes it less likely.

Create a jewelry capsule wardrobe.

The best defense against missing your jewelry when you’re away from home is to pack a really great selection of jewelry to bring with you.

I like to combine one or two nicer pieces that I will wear every day with a rotation of fun demi-fine and costume jewelry pieces that I pair with each other in different ways to keep things interesting. My travel jewelry essentials usually include 1-2 pairs of big statement earrings, 1-2 pairs of stud earrings, 2-3 rings that pair well together, and 3-4 necklaces of varying lengths that I can layer in different ways.

Make a switch.

Some people like to buy a cheaper ring to wear in place of their engagement ring while they’re traveling. I don’t do this, personally – if I’m not comfortable wearing my engagement ring somewhere, I just go without – but I know people who love this approach. It’s a great option if you don’t like your ring finger to be bare at the beach.

A silicone wedding band is also a good option if you like to have an alternate durable travel ring. My husband, the lovely Mr. DitL, has one of these that he wears for things like playing sports and enjoying the beach.

How to travel with jewelry! Me posing with my husband in front of a canal in Venice, Italy.

Be smart.

It’s one thing to put on some diamonds for an elegant evening in the bar of your Parisian hotel, or a glamorous gala in NYC when you’re taking a car to and from your event. But if your itinerary involves unfamiliar streets, big crowds, or uncertain destinations, it’s never a bad idea to leave off your flashiest sparkle. Remember that thieves can be anywhere and they’re smart, so don’t make it any easier for them to identify you as a target. Your jewelry isn’t the only thing in danger if you get robbed.

If you’re a fellow antique jewelry lover like me, remember that antique and vintage jewelry is more fragile than its contemporary counterparts. Leave delicate antiques at home where they’ll be safe. Same for new jewelry that’s especially dainty or breakable.

Accidents do happen anyway and there’s sometimes no way to prevent loss, but it never hurts to try to make choices to help ensure a good outcome when you’re traveling with jewelry.

Insure it.

Jewelry insurance exists for a reason, and that’s because bad things do happen. If you’re going to travel with any jewelry of value, it’s a fantastic idea to have it insured so that you can go about your business knowing that you have a safety net in case something bad really does go down.

Have fun!

Vacay is supposed to be about fun and relaxation! If locking up your jewelry and remembering to take it off at strategic moments stresses you out, just leave it at home. Buy something cheap and sparkly that won’t break your heart if it gets lost and know that your good stuff will be waiting for you when you come back. Then you’ll able to frolic freely without worrying.

How to travel with jewelry! Image shows my hand with my antique wedding set and two other antique rings, holding a US passport.

I hope you have safe and delightful travels this summer, my darlings!

And I can’t help myself, so I will also say this: please remember that some summer travelers (like me!) are immunocompromised/high risk and still in real danger from COVID. Please consider wearing a mask on planes and in public indoor spaces, and make sure you’re fully vaxxed and boosted before you take off for parts unknown.

For more articles about traveling with jewelry (and jewelry travel cases) please click here.

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