By Becca Jones
Congrats! Your honey popped the question and you’ve got the bling to prove it!
But how, you might ask, should you keep it as bright and mesmerizing as the first time your fiancé slipped it on your finger? An item that symbolizes so much deserves an extra bit of special care… like a routine professional cleaning.
Here, Kathryn Money, vice president of strategy and merchandising for Brilliant Earth, answers a few FAQs on how to keep your engagement ring in tip-top shape (beyond the usual “clean it every year”).
What does a professional cleaner do that I can’t at home?
- Physical inspection of the ring under a microscope: The jeweler will look for loose gemstones, bent prongs or other potential issues that need to be addressed.
- Ring polishing: The ring is buffed and polished on a high-speed wheel to remove scratches on the surface of the inside and outside of the ring. This step smooths the surface of the ring, making it look shiny and new.
- Ultrasonic cleaning: The ring is immersed in water with cleaning solution inside an ultrasonic machine that vibrates at a high rate. The ultrasonic waves break up the particles of dirt behind the diamonds or gemstones. One point of note is not all gemstones (i.e., emeralds or opals) can be placed into an ultrasonic, as the cleaning solution or vibrations could cause harm.
- Steam cleaning: The ring is rinsed and blasted with steam. The powerful jet of steam removes any last particles, and it also brightens the metal.
Regular cleaning maximizes the sparkle and luster of your jewelry and helps to preserve and protect your jewelry.
How often should I take my ring in for cleaning? Does it differ whether it’s a mere band or something with bling?
Air pollution, dirt, and daily wear can dull the surface of your jewelry and cloud the brilliance of a diamond or gemstone. Professional cleanings are recommended as frequently as once a year, depending on how often the jewelry is worn. Factors such as lifestyle, metal type, and gemstone type play a role in cleaning frequency—things like contact with dirt, extreme temperatures, household cleaners, and even perfumes can impact jewelry. It’s best to exercise caution when wearing your jewelry.
What at-home cleaning practices can I adopt?
Between professional cleanings, a mild solution of six parts water to one-part ammonia can be applied with a soft bristle brush to clean diamond and sapphire jewelry. Carefully rinse with lukewarm water after, and dry with a soft cloth. Pearls and emeralds can be cleaned with a mild soap and water solution and then allowed to dry. Dry pearls may be wiped with a soft, lint-free cloth. We recommend doing this as needed—whenever you notice the jewelry isn’t shining as bright as usual, feel free to clean it at home to restore its original luster.
Platinum? White gold? Rose gold? Does it make a difference?
Platinum requires very little maintenance, as it is corrosion resistant and does not tarnish. It is also less malleable than gold. With daily wear, however, platinum sustains small scratches more easily than other metals, and may start to take on a matte appearance. Many people enjoy the visual appeal of this unique finish, but the platinum surface can also be professionally re-polished to return a more reflective finish.
Because it features rhodium plating, 18K white gold must be re-plated with some regularity to maintain its color. 18K yellow gold is 75 percent fine gold and 25 percent alloys added to strengthen the metal, making it durable enough for everyday wear. The copper in the alloy lends strength to 14K rose gold, making for a durable choice that doesn’t require extra maintenance.
Any final care tips?
When in doubt it’s best to remove your ring. Things like gripping items with force (including bike handles or weights) can affect metal bands or pavé set diamonds. Rings with softer gemstones, such as emeralds, require special care and should be handled and worn gently. Better safe than sorry!