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It’s a known fact that horse people like to “horse around," and are hard on their bodies, which means they are hard on their jewelry. From shoveling manure, holding the reins, and being exposed to weird horse product, equestrians are tough people. I have been riding horses for over 30 years and I am very aware of what we horse people do to our jewelry. Besides the fact that we damage our jewelry often, we also wear it so much that it eventually breaks-and we lose it in the arena or a stall filled with shavings. With that said, we still love our bling! As a second generation jeweler and a fellow equestrian, I am asked all the time if my jewelry is “horse people proof." The answer is simple, nothing is 100% horse people proof, but I can get pretty close! I hope all of my horse people enjoy this article, my goal is to assist you with protecting your jewelry from your abuse!
When choosing a head or mounting to hold your diamond or major stones in, you should always pick a head that has 6 prongs, not 4 prongs! If you love the look of 4 prongs, then make sure your jeweler checks your ring at least every 6 months. I do have a few horse people with 4 prongs on their rings, but I see them all the time and check their jewelry frequently. Yes, 4 prongs can be a prettier look if you are looking for something more sleek, but is not realistic if you wear your ring every day to the barn. One hard tug on a prong and your diamond can slide right out! Or, if you don’t notice your diamond is loose, then your diamond will just saw its way out of the head. Better be on the safe side and go for 6 prongs!
#2 Gold or Platinum?
Most jewelers are going to tell you that platinum is the ultimate metal. Jewelers are also going to tell you that platinum is stronger and more durable. Generally that is true, but when it comes to horse people’s jewelry, I will definitely argue with this! Jewelers don’t know how hard we are on our hands. I have had dozens of riders that trade in their platinum rings for 14k gold. Not only is platinum much more expensive than gold, but it is soft. Soft is great if you are gentle with your hands, but with today’s horseback rider, soft is not good! Platinum scratches easily and gets beat up really quick. Especially when you abuse your jewelry (which we do). The disadvantage to 14k white gold is that it is rhodium plated to appear as a whiter metal, and the rhodium plating eventually wears off. But all and all it is tougher and harder to scratch. You can have your jewelry re-rhodium plated as often as you want, which is less expensive than replacing stones when they fall out. If you go with yellow gold, then the color won’t even matter. Also, keep in mind that rose gold is also slightly softer than yellow, and will show scratches more easily. If you do decide to go with platinum over gold, make sure you choose a heavy platinum shank so that your ring doesn’t bend easily.
For those of you who truly do not want to worry about your larger stones, there is no question that bezel setting it is the way to go! You can choose a full bezel which goes around the entire stone, or a half bezel. Bezels provide the most protection for the stone, and if the stone gets loose, there is no place for it to go. If your major stone is set in a bezel, and you feel it rolling around, make sure you do bring it in to have it tightened.
#5 Rubies, Sapphires and Diamonds
The only stones that you should wear at the barn on a daily basis are rubies, sapphires and diamonds. These are three of the hardest stones on Earth, and they can take a beating. Plus rubies, diamonds, and sapphires can take heat. Diamond is considered one of the hardest substances on earth. They use industrial grade diamonds to make saw blades. But, just because they are tough doesn’t mean they are indestructible! Be aware diamonds can chip and break. Having your jewelry inspected every 6 months is essential to check for any damage to your diamonds and gemstones.
#6 Screw Back Earrings
No matter if you take off your earrings or never take them off, I recommend screw posts/backs. These are specially designed earring posts that have a thread and a screw back. It takes a lot of twisting to get them off or on. They are a major pain in the butt, but they are the most secure earring posts you can have. I know lots of ladies who have changed their show clothes in a tack stall, then realized hours later that their earring was missing. Screw backs are much harder to lose!
#7 Check Your Necklace
I make tons of client’s logo pendants with their brand, but these clients never take off their pendants. Their horse wears their brand every day, so why not them, right? Gold does wear down, just like the tread on your tires. If you wear a pendant and never take it off, always check your jump rings on the chain and the bail. The constant movement of a pendant on a chain wears away the metal over time. This is a super easy fix, but you want to fix it before your pendant falls off!
#8 Take it Off
Time flies when you're having fun! Especially when you are traveling to horse shows. With that said, it is always a good idea to take your jewelry off to clean and closely inspect it once a week. When cleaning your rings it is extremely important to make sure that any “crud” that is stuck underneath your ring is completely removed. Lots of time this “crud” makes fingers get infected. Usually people think they are allergic to the metal, but in reality they are allergic to the horsey product chemicals that is stuck in their ring, which can rub against your skin. If you really want to clean your jewelry right, it is an even better idea if you have a jeweler professionally clean it and inspect it every 6 months. I do not charge for this service, and most jewelers will do it for free, or have a minimal charge.
#9 Innsure It
Yes, it does cost extra money each year to insure your jewelry, but it is well worth it! Especially if you’re going to wear your jewelry everyday. I recommend putting jewelry on your homeowner's insurance policy, or use Jewelers Mutual or Gem Shield and have a private policy. Quite a few insurance companies will cover repair work, as well as loss. If you’re a horse person who doesn’t take their jewelry off, any piece over $1000 retail should be on your jewelry insurance.
I hope that this article helps you when updating your current jewelry, or when the time comes to choose a new piece. If you’re interested in remodeling any of your jewelry or have any questions, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I also participate in most of the major reining, cowhorse, and AQHA events in the state, and I am more than willing to meet you in person. I do a lot of work by email, text, and social media, but my destination jewelry store is a 3600 square foot freestanding building that is located in Fountain Hills, Arizona.