Photo: Frances Tulk-Hart
There are few things more mesmerizing than watching your engagement ring sparkle and dance in the light, so it's only natural to want to maintain that bling by giving your ring regular cleanings.
But the only thing worse than a ring that's lost its luster, is a ring that's damaged due to improper care. So before you get too wrapped up in wacky cleaning hacks and old wives' tales, we tapped Mark Mann, the director of Global Jewelry Manufacturing Arts at the GIA for his professional advice on how to clean your jewelry safely and what to avoid at all costs.
First, determine what kind of gunk has gotten on your ring, says Mann. "If you're very active outdoors or in the kitchen and there's a hard compacted layer of oil or dirt, it's best to get it cleaned at the jewelers using professional-grade products that will restore the brilliance of the stone safely."
However, if your ring has been dirtied by common cosmetics — for example, hairspray, lotion, makeup, or perfume — a simple at-home cleaning should be sufficient. "The best way to clean your ring is to make a solution with warm water (almost hot) and dishwashing soap. Soak your ring for about 20 to 40 minutes, gently brush the stone with a very soft toothbrush, and then rinse under warm running water. If needed, repeat."
As for substances that you should never use to clean your ring, stay away from any household cleaners such as bleach, chlorine, and acetone, advises Mann. "These harsh chemicals can break down some of the base metals in your ring. Also never use any kind of abrasive products such as toothpaste, baking soda, or any powdered cleaners, which can easily scratch metals — particularly gold."
Lastly, also avoid at-home ultrasonic jewelry cleaning machines, especially if your ring features pavé set stones, says Mann. "If one of the prongs is weakened or if there's the slightest error in workmanship, the vibrations from an ultrasonic machine can dislodge a stone," he warns. "Your safest bet for ultrasonic cleaning is to take it to the jeweler, where professionals can test the security of the settings first — or fix it should anything come loose."