Caring for Your Engagement and Wedding Rings

You will most likely wear your engagement and wedding rings more than any other piece of jewelry, so it is important to know how to care for and protect them. The following tips should help you in properly caring for your rings.

  • Try not to touch the stones in your rings when putting them on or taking them off. Instead, take rings on and off by grasping the metal portion that encircles the finger (the ring shank). Slipping rings on and off by grasping the metal shank rather than the stone will prevent a greasy buildup on the stone’s surface, which greatly reduces the brilliance and sparkle of a stone.
  • To keep rings sparkling, get into the habit of “huffing” them. This is a little trick we use to remove the dirt and oily film on the stone’s top surface (which occurs from incorrectly putting rings on and taking them off, or from occasionally “fingering” them—­which most of us do without even realizing it). Each time the stones are touched, a layer of oily film is applied to the top (no matter how dry you think your skin is), and the stone’s beauty is diminished. To restore its sparkle, just “huff” it. Simply hold the ring close to your mouth, “huff” on it with your breath—you’ll see the stone fog up—and wipe it off with a soft, lint-free cloth, such as a handkerchief, scarf or coat/blouse sleeve. You’ll be amazed to see how much better your rings can look simply by removing even the lightest oil film from the surface!
  • Don’t take off rings and lay them on the side of the sink unless you’re sure the drain is closed. Also, never remove your rings to wash your hands when away from home (too many have been forgotten … and lost).
  • Don’t wear your rings while doing any type of rough work such as house cleaning or gardening, or sports such as mountain climbing. Even diamonds can be chipped or broken by a hard blow in certain directions.
  • Avoid contact with chlorine, the principal ingredient in many bleaches, household cleaners and swimming pool disinfectants. Chlorine can cause pitting and discoloration to the mounting of your ring and to your gold or platinum wedding band.
  • Don’t carelessly toss jewelry in a case. Diamonds can scratch other gemstones very easily, and can also scratch each other. To prevent scratching, diamond jewelry should be placed in a case with dividers or separate compartments, or each piece placed in a soft pouch or individually wrapped in tissues or a soft cloth.
  • Every eighteen months have a reliable jeweler check your ring to make sure the setting is secure, especially the prongs. If you ever feel (or hear) the stone moving in the setting, it’s a warning that the prongs or bezel need tightening. Failure to repair this may result in loss or damage to the stone.

How to Keep Your Diamond Clean

Keeping your diamond ring clean is essential if you want it to sparkle to its fullest. Film from lotions, powders, and your own skin oils will dull stones and reduce their brilliance. As we said earlier, you will be amazed at how much a slight film can affect the sparkle of the stone, and it can also affect its color, making it look dingy.

It’s easy to keep your rings clean. To clean your rings, wash with warm, sudsy water. This is perhaps the simplest and easiest way to clean any kind of jewelry. Prepare a small bowl of warm, sudsy water, using any kind of mild liquid detergent (avoid harsh detergents). Soak your ring for a few minutes and then brush gently with an eyebrow brush or soft toothbrush, keeping the piece submerged in the sudsy water. Rinse thoroughly under running water (make sure the drain is closed—some prefer to place jewelry in a wire strainer before placing under the running water) and pat dry with a soft, lint-free cloth or paper towel.

If your engagement ring is a diamond ring—and this is for diamonds only—make a solution of hot water and ammonia (half water/half ammonia) and soak your diamond in this solution for about thirty minutes. Lift it out and tap it gently from the sides and back and then scrub gently with a soft brush to remove stubborn or built-up greasy dirt from the underside and around the setting. This technique is especially effective for diamond rings with a heavy buildup of oily dirt. It may take several “soaks” if the ring hasn’t been cleaned in a long time. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.

To clean your wedding band or any other gold jewelry without gemstones, rubbing with a soft chamois cloth will restore much of the luster. Tarnish can be removed with a solution of soap and water, to which a few drops of ammonia have been added. Using a soft toothbrush, brush the rings with this solution, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth. Grease can be removed by dipping the item in plain rubbing alcohol.

While more convenient, commercial jewelry cleaners are not necessarily more effective than the methods suggested above, and some can damage your jewelry. Never let colored gemstone jewelry soak in commercial cleaners for more than a few minutes. Leaving stones such as emerald or amethyst in some commercial cleaners for any length of time can cause etching of the surface, which reduces the stone’s luster.

We do not recommend ultrasonic cleaners for most gems and think it should be restricted to the cleaning of diamonds or gold jewelry only. We do, however, highly recommend the ionic cleaner because we have found it to be very safe and effective for all jewelry and all gemstones, and it is a real time saver.

After all is said and done, although some commercial cleaners are faster or more convenient, washing with warm, sudsy water is simple, effective and safe for all jewelry.

Keep Jewelry Safe While Traveling

When traveling, it is important to take a few extra steps to protect your jewelry and prevent heartache. Here are some simple, practical rules that you should follow carefully.

When you’re packing the jewelry you plan to take with you, be sure to keep diamond jewelry, gemstone jewelry, pearls and gold or silver pieces separated from each other to prevent scratching. The easiest way to do this is to keep your fine jewelry in soft pouches, wrapped in a soft cloth or placed in a Ziploc-type bag to help protect it. If you don’t have one of these available, just wrapping each piece in a soft tissue is helpful.

Don’t overcrowd your jewelry case. This can result in misplacing or losing pieces that might fall unnoticed from the case. Furthermore, forcing jewelry into your travel case may cause damage, such as bending a fragile piece, or chipping a fragile stone.

If traveling by car, never put the bag in which you have your jewelry into the trunk—extremely hot or cold temperatures (resulting from the sun beating down on the trunk or from driving for several hours in extreme cold) can cause thermo-shock, which can cause damage, even cracking, to many gemstones.

Whether traveling by car, train, ship or plane, keep your jewelry on you, in whatever bag you keep with you at all times. NEVER pack your jewelry in anything that will be checked, and don’t give any bag containing your jewelry to a porter or baggage handler, for any reason, even briefly. It’s easy for an accomplice to distract you, during which time the jewelry is removed—this happens faster than you can imagine, and by the time you discover the jewelry is missing, it will be too late!

Never put jewelry in a hotel “room safe.” No matter how secure it may seem—especially those for which you must “program” your own code—because there is always an “override” code that enables someone to open them (this is how they are opened whenever guests forget their own codes)! We know people who have learned this the hard way. One friend of mine left her most important jewelry in the safe while she went sightseeing in Europe only to return to the hotel that afternoon to discover that it was GONE. During a period of a few hours, thieves had managed to enter numerous rooms and remove the entire contents of each safe. The police were never able to recover any of the jewelry taken. When you are staying at a hotel, ask for a safe-deposit box, or if there are none available, ask to have your valuables placed in the hotel safe until checkout time.

If traveling outside the country, we recommend taking a photo—just lay out all of the pieces and take a quick snapshot—and have the photo notarized before departure. This will help you avoid any problems with customs when you return. This is especially important if you are a citizen of the USA and own ruby jewelry because of the current embargo against bringing Burmese rubies, or jewelry containing them, into the USA.

And finally, if possible, we recommend leaving your fine jewelry at home while traveling, ideally in a safe-deposit box at your bank. Apart from the possibility of accidental loss or theft from baggage or hotel, wearing fine jewelry in some countries—or in some neighborhoods—makes you a “target” for thieves. We know of people held at gunpoint and robbed of watches, diamonds and gold jewelry—even FAKES! You’re safer just not wearing anything at all because the thieves don’t KNOW whether you’re wearing a fake or the real thing! And there are more than a few cases where people have been physically hurt during the course of a robbery. So, to ensure a truly “sparkling” experience when traveling abroad, my best advice is to leave the “bling” behind!