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The Complete Beginner's Guide to Traveling with Jewelry

Whether you have a few favorite jewelry pieces that you wear everyday or you masterfully coordinate your jewelry wardrobe with different outfits, chances are you want to travel with your jewelry.

So, which jewelry must-haves should you take, what’s the best way to prepare and pack your sparkly pieces, and what are some style considerations? These insider tips will have you traveling with style and smarts:

1. Harry Winston or Target?

There is no right answer on whether you should travel with fine jewelry or go for costume pieces instead. Oftentimes, the type of trip you are taking will answer this question for you. Trekking through Bhutan? Keep it simple and leave the diamonds at home. Setting sail on a luxury cruise? Consider bringing some of your favorite precious stone pieces to sparkle at dinner.

Woman traveling on kayak wearing bracelets.
Match your jewelry style to the type of travel.

That said, I know plenty of travelers who will always wear their engagement ring – jungle, beach, wherever. Conversely, I also think it is completely OK to wear costume jewelry no matter the setting. Luxury travel is trending away from formality and towards a casually elegant vibe, and tasteful costume jewelry works just fine. There’s even historical precedent: going back to at least the late 1700’s, women have been wearing paste (imitation) travel jewelry and “rhinestones,” keeping their valuables safely at home.

If you are traveling with valuables, make sure that your homeowner’s or jewelry insurance policy is up to date (ideally with current appraisals), snap a photo of the items you are taking, check that your destination has a safe, and either wear your pieces or have them in your purse/carry-on during flights. Do always be aware of your surroundings and gauge whether you feel it is safe to wear your precious pieces. Also, speaking from personal experience here (sigh…): know whether your watch is waterproof or not before going swimming.

2. Suds Up!

For both fine and costume jewelry, a check and cleaning of your pieces will make the difference between ho-hum and oh, Helllllo!

For diamond jewelry, a pre-travel visit to your trusted local jeweler is smart. The jeweler will check that your prongs are solid, and can do a quick professional cleaning with ultrasound and high-pressure steam. White gold pieces also need the rhodium plating redone periodically, so it makes sense to take those pieces to your jeweler several weeks prior to travel.

If you are cleaning your diamonds at home, mix together a cup of hot water, a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid like Dawn, and about five squirts of Windex. Let your pieces soak in the mixture for about ten minutes, then use a toothbrush to scrub clean. Rinse in water (making sure the sink drain is closed) and dry with a lint-free cloth or coffee filter. Cue the blinding shine!

Woman traveling with jewelry.

For silver pieces, clean off the tarnish with a silver jewelry polishing cloth (this is a great task for when you’re watching Netflix with a glass of wine). For pearls, simply wipe with a very soft cloth (and never wear your pearls over lotion or perfume). For costume jewelry, a moist soft cloth should be all you need. Metal costume jewelry is prone to permanently dulling and tarnishing over time, so look at your pieces with a critical eye to see if they should be sorted out of your collection.

3. Pack Right

A quality jewelry roll is a good investment if you like to bring along a mini collection when you travel. Look for one that is compact, soft, and has different areas and compartments for necklaces and earrings.

A great alternative to a jewelry roll is a small, soft cosmetic pouch. Use zipper locking plastic sandwich bags to separate your jewelry, being especially mindful of keeping pearls separate from all other jewelry, as they can be scratched easily. For chain necklaces, keep about two inches of the chain hanging out of the sandwich bag closure to prevent tangling.

Whichever way you pack your jewelry, it will likely take up very little space, while upping your style quotient by a lot.

4. Style Essentials

Personally, I love to mix up my jewelry choices and include non-precious pieces. Stores from Nordstrom to Target have fun, trendy costume jewelry choices that are perfect to travel with, worry free. Keeping the look light and airy (think open circle pendant necklaces, light earrings in Moroccan tile inspired shapes) is an on-trend way to mirror the freedom and movement of travel.

Travel jewelry - a pair of golden link earrings and a wide ring.
Versatile pieces that can go from casual to dressy are perfect for many kinds of travel.

If you are looking for globally-inspired fine jewelry, be sure to check out Italian designer Marco Bicego’s collections like Jaipur, Masai, and Petali. If you love silver, John Hardy’s signature woven and intricately designed jewelry is crafted by master artisans at the company’s open air design center / workshop in Bali.

I select my jewelry differently depending on the trip.

For cruise travel, I like to have a little more fun with my jewelry, especially at dinner. When I’m packing my outfits, I select a few statement pieces for extra style. Mixing and matching outfit components with different jewelry can also get you more mileage out of your travel wardrobe. You can wear a pretty sundress with shimmery heels, Tahitian pearls, and a pashmina for dinner one evening, then wear the same dress a couple days later in port with casual sandals, tassel earrings, and a floppy hat for a completely different look.

One last tip: don’t overlook the power of a simple cuff or chain bracelet to add interest. It’s a simple way to elevate an outfit with minimal effort, and brings balance if you wear a watch on your other wrist.

I hope you enjoyed these tips! In addition to travel, gemstones and jewelry are a lifelong passion of mine, and I am a certified Diamonds Graduate through the Gemological Institute of America.

Happy Travels Always,


Photos courtesy of Unsplash, used by permission


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