Diamonds may be forever, but it takes work to keep diamond jewelry looking its best.
Wendy O’Donnell of Madison, Wisconsin, discovered this the hard way.
The diamond had fallen out of O’Donnell’s ring, something she alarmingly discovered in the shower when her stoneless ring got caught in her hair. O’Donnell couldn’t find the diamond in the drain catcher, either.
“I was freaking out,” she says.
Eventually O’Donnell found the diamond inside a gardening glove. The prongs on the ring had become loose, and the stone slipped out. This incident helped O’Donnell learn that rings need regular care.
“Diamond jewelry is durable but not indestructible,” says Mark Mann, a director for the Gemological Institute of America.
Keep It Clean
Rings need regular cleaning in order to maintain their sparkle. Diamonds can easily pick up grease, even from the natural oils in skin, and that can change the appearance of the stone.
“Clean your rings frequently with warm water, mild soap and a soft brush,” says Mann.
The GIA recommends cleaning diamond rings once or twice a week by soaking in an ammonia-based household cleaner, such as window cleaner. Let the ring soak overnight and then brush it with a soft, clean toothbrush to remove any leftover dirt. For rings with fragile settings or estate jewelry, skip the brushing step. Simply rinse the ring with water and dry with a lint-free cloth.
If the ring has a lot of built-up dirt on the diamond, the GIA suggests taking it to a professional jeweler for an ultrasonic cleaning. This process sends high frequency sound waves through a detergent solution to clean the stone. While this method can be very effective, it can also be tough on rings with fragile settings.
Make Sure It Fits
Proper sizing may also be an issue with a ring, particularly if you inherit a ring that’s a much different size than your finger. To resize a ring a jeweler will cut the ring and either add a piece to make it larger or remove a piece to make it smaller.
“You’re fusing metal one way or another,” says Steve Quick, of Steve Quick Jeweler stores in Chicago, adding that accurate sizing can be difficult.
“You really are trying to hit a moving target,” he says. “The size of your finger at 11 a.m. may not be the size of your finger at 7 p.m.”
Quick recommends the best sizing is slightly tight once in a while and slightly loose once in a while.
“If you need to resize your ring, have your finger measured at least three times at different times of the day, to ensure the best fit,” says Mann. “Rings should be snug going over the knuckle, but fit comfortably once on.”
Tend to Wear and Tear
Everyday use can also do damage to a ring, including causing stones to fall out. Something as simple as opening a metal filing cabinet can hurt a ring if it’s done often enough.
“Every shock you put into that metal is a shock to the ring’s system,” says Quick.
“If you wear your diamond rings every day, have them professionally cleaned and examined about every six months to prevent the loss of a stone,” says Mann.
As O’Donnell knows, you never know when that could occur.