It took you a lifetime, but you finally found the perfect specimen. Husband? No, actually we’re talking about your engagement ring. Oh, sure, there are hundreds of books and articles on how to care for your significant other, but what about your ring? It’s so shiny, so sparkly, so brilliant — the last thing you’d ever want to do is nick it, chip it, gunk it up or knock it loose from its setting. Horrors, you’re thinking. You would never dream of letting your beloved ring meet with such fate. So, how do you care for such a precious symbol of your love? Read on.
Your wedding jewellery is made to be enjoyed, and a little extra care will help extend the enjoyment for a lifetime — perhaps for several lifetimes if you pass it down to future generations. Use these care tips to extend the shine and sparkle, and keep your stones safely in their settings.
They’re two of your most prized possessions, so you should keep your engagement ring and wedding band as shiny and sparkly as possible. Here is everything you need to do to keep your engagement and wedding rings safe and in good condition so you all can live happily ever after.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Take It Off
- 2 Safekeeping
- 3 Keep It Free From Lotion, Sunscreen And Perfume
- 4 Have Your Setting Checked Regularly
- 5 Don’t Swim In The Ocean
- 6 Be Careful In The Kitchen
- 7 Keep It Clean
- 8 Schedule professional cleanings
- 9 Use mild cleaning solutions
- 10 Consider a “backup” ring
- 11 Say no to chemicals
- 12 Check the weather
- 13 Don’t risk the bling
- 14 Have a spot
- 15 Restore shine to white gold and platinum
- 16 Clean your ring four times a year
- 17 Give your metal setting a refresh every few years
- 18 Choose a ring with a warranty
- 19 Store your engagement ring safely
- 20 Avoid having your ring resized more than once
- 21 Remove your ring during hands-on activities
- 22 But don’t remove your ring in public
- 23 Insure Your Ring
Take It Off
Believe it or not, caring for your ring occasionally means taking it off, such as during the following activities:
- Playing sports. Holding a tennis racket tightly is particularly not good for a wedding band which has stones going all the way around — especially if you’re left-handed. As for taking your ring to the gym, lifting weights with it on can also be hazardous. You wouldn’t want a 25-pound dumbbell making contact with your stone.
- Gardening. It is possible to chip your diamond or knock the setting loose while doing heavy yard work.
- Cleaning house. Harsh chemical soaps or cleansers can soil the ring. It’s also a good idea not to wear your ring while doing the dishes.
If you’ll be taking your ring off to do the activities above, make sure you have a safe and memorable a place to put it. Diamonds should be stored in their own separate box, pouch or jewellery compartment because they can scratch other pieces of jewellery.
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Keep It Free From Lotion, Sunscreen And Perfume
These products can gunk up your diamond, and even etch coloured gemstones. It’s a good idea to take your ring off before you put these things on.
Have Your Setting Checked Regularly
Most jewellers recommend you have your setting checked every six months to make sure the stone hasn’t been knocked loose, especially if it is particularly large.
Don’t Swim In The Ocean
Coldwater may shrink your fingers just enough to loosen the ring from your finger, and if you lose it in the deep blue sea, you won’t be seeing it again. If you must, you may swim in a swimming pool with your ring — at least the pool can be drained if it slips off your finger. Note, however, that while platinum can withstand virtually any chemical, experts advise not to expose gold or silver rings to the harsh chemicals found in swimming pools and spas — the bands can become severely discoloured over time.
Be Careful In The Kitchen
Cookie dough, turkey loaf, a piecrust… it’s great to mix with your fingers. But these foods can leave a film on your ring and really affect its lustre.
Keep It Clean
Most jewellers will clean your ring free of charge, so take advantage of this courtesy. If you don’t have time to get to the jewellery store, there are a few ways to clean your ring at home.
Craig Small Jewelers in Los Angeles suggests using gentle dish detergent to clean lotion buildup from the bottom of the mounting. Simply scrub the top and bottom with a soft toothbrush and rinse several times in hot water. For diamonds, you can use a drop of Formula 409 with a large quantity of water, but be sure to rinse several times to get all the cleaner off.
If you have an emerald ring, only use gentle detergent; never use chemicals such as 409.
For extra shine, soak your diamond ring in a small bowl of ammonia diluted with three times the amount of water, and gently brush the top and bottom of the mounting with a soft toothbrush. Dip the ring into the solution again, then rinse in warm water several times to be sure to get all of the solutions off.
Note: If you do this over an open drain, use a filter!
You may set the ring on a soft towel to dry, or gently pat it dry.
Check out our post on What are the wedding accessories?
Schedule professional cleanings
Most jewellers, like Ritani, offer free cleaning services. Not only will your ring be steam-cleaned by an on-site jeweller, it can also be examined under magnification to make sure the prongs are secure, and to check for diamond fractures and loose stones.
Experts say having a professional cleaning at least twice a year—much like a dental appointment—is a great way to manage the structural integrity of your ring and keep it as sparkly as the day you first slipped it on.
Use mild cleaning solutions
Rumour has it Elizabeth Taylor would clean her 33.19-carat Krupp diamond ring in a combination of hot water and gin. However, the experts at Ritani say if you’re going to wash your ring at home, you should soak it in a mixture of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid for half an hour, before gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Baking soda’s mild, non-abrasive consistency makes it another great choice for cleaning metals and precious stones. Simply pour a bit of baking soda into a bowl and mix it with a bit of warm water to create a soft paste. Take off your ring and use your fingers to gently rub the paste around the stone, the setting, and the ring. Rinse the ring in warm water and dry with a lint-free cloth.
If you’re really serious about keeping your ring clean, here are a few more tips.
Consider a “backup” ring
Another increasingly popular option is what’s known as the “backup ring.” This is an alternate ring that may not be as valuable—monetarily or emotionally—and can be worn more regularly without the worry of it getting lost.
Many department stores and boutiques sell costume jewellery that looks very similar to real engagement rings and bridal sets. For some, substituting their ring for a stand-in is completely worth the additional price to avoid putting the real ring at risk.
Say no to chemicals
Aside from cleaning products, chemicals like the ones in perfume, lotion and sunscreen can add residue to the ring and diamond, which can cause potential damage. Always remove your ring before applying these or any other products that may be made with harmful chemicals.
Check the weather
Whether you’re making a quick run to the grocery store during a snowstorm or hiking in the Alps, most people’s fingers naturally get smaller due to the temperature. This means there is a risk that your ring could slide off during cold weather.
Alternatively, hot weather can cause fingers to expand and may cause your ring to feel uncomfortable. Either way, consider leaving your engagement ring at home when the temperature is intense outside and sporting your wedding band only.
Don’t risk the bling
Certain activities put your ring at a higher risk than others. Sailing, for example. Dangling your hands out in the open sea while sipping champagne? Risky.
Even certain outdoor chores, like gardening, can be fraught with peril. Any situation that may make the ring especially dirty, or impossible to retrieve, should be carefully considered. In our book, if you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and leave the bling at home.
Have a spot
When you do take your ring off, it’s best to have a designated spot for it. A specific drawer in your jewellery box. Your bedside table. The smallest pocket in your purse. By having a known location for it, you cut back on the likelihood of leaving it somewhere you won’t remember later.
Whether you’re going to the gym or having a particularly in-depth house-cleaning session, it’s important to have a place where you put your ring and to make a habit of keeping it there.
Restore shine to white gold and platinum
There comes a time when every white gold ring starts to dull, and a yellow hue begins to shine through. This is natural and unavoidable, no matter what care you give your ring.
White gold’s original sheen can be easily restored through a process called Rhodium plating. Not only will Rhodium bring back the shine of your ring that you fell in love with, but Rhodium plating can also make diamonds shine brighter. Depending on your activity level, the amount of care you give your ring and your body’s natural makeup, a white gold engagement ring can call for a Rhodium plating every six months to once a year.
Platinum rings do not need Rhodium treatments because platinum does not originally start off as yellow. However, those who want a shinier platinum ring can opt to have their platinum band plated to be more reflective.
Clean your ring four times a year
Dirt, oil and residue can lodge itself into your diamond. If you don’t clean it regularly, your ring will end up looking dull instead of brilliant. Even the slightest film can alter how light reflects off of the diamond. To keep your diamond shining brightly, you’ll want to clean your engagement ring several times a year.
You can have your ring cleaned at a jeweller’s (usually for free) or send it into online jewellers. You can also clean your engagement ring easily at home by the following these steps.
Step 1: Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water, then add one full drop of dish detergent. Stir the water and dish detergent with a spoon. Do not use the chlorine-based cleaner as it may react chemically with the precious metal of your ring.
Step 2: Place your ring in the soapy water for 10 minutes to break down grime and oil.
Step 3: Remove your ring and clean it with a soft bristle brush. Gently brush each side, especially the edges and the back of the ring.
Step 4: Set your ring back in the bowl of water and detergent. Continue brushing the ring to wash off any loosened dirt and grim.
Step 5: Rinse your engagement ring with clean running water. Remember to plug the drain!
Step 6: Use a lint-free cloth or hair dryer to dry your ring. If you let it air dry instead, you may notice water stains on your diamond.
Keep in mind: Avoid using bleach and other abrasive chemicals when cleaning your jewellery. You could damage the metal and your ring’s finish. If you’re not confident in cleaning the ring yourself, just stop into a jeweller’s. It only takes a few minutes for cleaning.
Give your metal setting a refresh every few years
Depending on the type of precious metal of your ring, you’ll want to follow the care instructions to ensure it stays shiny and in great shape. Over time, every type of metal will tarnish due to oxygen and moisture coming into contact with your ring.
Platinum and yellow gold require polishing every couple of years to maintain its smooth surface and shine.
White gold needs to be dipped every few years to replace the rhodium plating and to retain its colour and lustre. This process is inexpensive, and many jewellers even offer the service for free.
Choose a ring with a warranty
Reputable diamond vendors will usually offer a warranty for their jewellery products. Blue Nile’s lifetime warranty, for example, offers repair and replacement for any manufacturer defects for the life of the ring. James Allen also provides a lifetime manufacturer warranty along with free prong tightening, re-polishing, cleaning services and rhodium plating.
By choosing a reputable vendor, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ll receive care for your ring even years later.
Store your engagement ring safely
If you’re not wearing your ring every day, or decide to leave it behind when you go vacation, be sure you have a safe spot for your ring.
Choose a fabric-lined jewellery box with dividers, so your ring won’t rub against your other jewellery. Consider placing the jewellery case in a lockbox or a fireproof safe for extra security.
Avoid having your ring resized more than once
During different life stages, like pregnancy and postpartum, hands tend to swell and change sizes. Rather than continually resizing your ring, store it away in a safe place until it fits again. While you can always resize a ring, having it adjusted often can make the metal more fragile and subject to long term damage.
Remove your ring during hands-on activities
Take off your engagement ring during hand-heavy activities like moving furniture, gardening, lifting weights and doing manual labour. You may also want to remove your ring when you swim, kayak or paddleboard. You’ll not only increase the longevity of your ring, but you’ll reduce the chances of it getting lost.
We also recommend keeping a ring dish near your kitchen sink so you can remove your ring before you wash dishes. By taking off your ring, you’re limiting its exposure to harsh chemicals and knocking it against hard surfaces. The less wear and tear on your ring, the better.
But don’t remove your ring in public
While it may be tempting to remove your ring while washing your hands in a public restroom, it could slide down the drain, or you might forget it altogether.
Try to refrain from taking off your ring in public places. Plan in advance for workouts or manual activity by storing your ring safely at home before the day begins.
Insure Your Ring
God forbid that anything should happen to your ring — we all know it’s irreplaceable. However, it’s important to have insurance just in case. Most insurance companies will include your ring under your homeowner’s insurance, although you can always ensure it separately if you wish.
Take care of your ring, and it will always be as dazzling as it was on your wedding day.
Your engagement ring’s sentimental value can’t be replaced. But you can be eligible for the full financial investment should your ring ever be lost, stolen or damaged.
Have your ring appraised by a credentialed appraiser and then insure it for its full replacement value. Review a couple of insurance plan options before settling on the one that’s best for you (and gives you the most value for what you’re paying).
Because the cost of diamonds and metals tend to rise over time, have your ring appraised every five years. With an appraisal that’s a decade old or more, the value will likely be far less than what it’s currently worth.