Q&A

Q. On which hand should I wear my engagement ring during the ceremony?

A. Since the engagement ring is traditionally worn on top of the wedding band, so the band is closer to the heart, some brides wear their engagement ring on their left hand and then slip it off before the wedding-band exchange. Others opt to wear it on their right hand during the ceremony, placing it on their left hand afterward. Do whatever makes you most comfortable.

Q. How do I ensure that my ring slides on easily at the ceremony?

A. A flawless ring exchange begins with sizing, says N.Y.C. jeweler Leslie Greene. "Never assume you know your ring size when ordering a ring; having a professional measure is essential," she says. For a few days before the wedding, avoid seasonings (especially salt), drink plenty of water and get a good night's sleep to prevent hands from swelling. Also, don't forget to "cream up, baby!" she says. Apply lotion to soften hands and so the band slips on without a struggle. One subtle trick: Have your fiancé kiss your finger at the altar, sneaking in a quick little lick, right before he puts on the ring, to add moisture. And if it still sticks? Says Greene, "Get it on halfway and hope no one notices!"

Q. Is it absolutely necessary to insure my rings?

A. Stuff happens—a ring falls down a drain or is placed in a pocket for safekeeping, never to be seen again. That's why you should buy insurance for it. Homeowner's policies typically cover personal effects for up to only $1,000—renter's policies often insure less—and the payment may be limited to theft, not loss or damage. Riders to your policy—about $50 extra per year for a ring valued at $5,000—can get you more coverage. Make sure it's a replacement-of-like-kind or cash-back policy so you can get the same ring you lost. A stand-alone policy specifically for jewelry from firms like the Chubb Group and Jewelers Mutual is another option.

Q. What's the safest way to clean my engagement ring at home?

A. Soak it in warm, soapy water, using a soft brush to gently clean the crevices. Next, rinse your ring in a cup of water—this will eliminate the risk of it accidentally falling down the drain. You can reduce grease buildup on a diamond ring by dipping it in plain rubbing alcohol before soaking. To keep your ring pristine, don't wear it when you're doing housework or gardening, and leave it behind when you head for the spa or beach.

Q. What's the difference between a prong setting and a bezel setting?

A. A prong is the most classic gem setting. The prongs are claws that grab the upper edge (the girdle) of the diamond to hold it securely in place. Prong settings lift the diamond out of the ring so you can see more sparkle around the body of the diamond. A bezel setting nestles the jewel inside a cuff of metal. Bezel-set rings are a freshly contemporary alternative to the traditional prong setting.

Q. I love sports and lead a very active lifestyle. What's a good ring style for me?

A. If you are mindful of taking off your ring and storing it in a very safe place when you play sports, you can opt for any style. However, if you think youll be more casual about storing your ring before you play tennis, lift weights, work in the garden and so forth, a bezel-set or channel-set ring will be a more suitable option. Both bezel and channel settings nestle the diamond (or diamonds as the case may be) in the ring itself so the gem is flush with the metal, making it less likely to catch, chip or come loose from the setting.

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