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There are few things more mesmerizing than watching your diamond engagement ring sparkle and dance in the light after it's been freshly cleaned and polished, and it's only natural to want to maintain that bling. And while you can always take it to a jeweler for professional cleaning, it's nice to know how to clean your diamond ring yourself, too. Regular at-home cleaning will keep your ring shiny and in the best possible shape between the professional cleanings.
Everyday wear builds up layers of oil, debris, and cosmetic residue on the stone's surface. Dirty rings are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause skin irritation, discoloration of the metals, and scratching of the stones, so knowing how to clean your engagement ring at home is important to keep it looking its best and free of germs. It should be noted that home cleanings are not a replacement for professional upkeep. While you can easily dislodge surface buildup and restore shine yourself, cleanings at your jeweler's will safely remove the hard layers of deep, compressed dirt and debris.
The best jewelry cleaner in this instance is simple dishwashing soap. Additional supplies you'll need can nearly all be found right at home: a bowl, warm water, a soft-bristle toothbrush, and a gentle cotton cloth. Remember to steer clear of harsh household cleaners and sanitizers, which can actually do more damage than good to your diamond. We talked to Mark Mann, the director of Global Jewelry Manufacturing Arts at the GIA, to find out exactly how to maintain your ring's optimal shine with easy at-home cleaning.
Meet the Expert
Mark Mann was previously the Global Director of Jewelry Manufacturing Arts at the Gemological Institute Of America (GIA).
How to Clean Diamond Rings at Home
If your ring has been dirtied by common cosmetics—for example, hairspray, lotion, makeup, or perfume—a simple at-home cleaning will bring back its sparkle. "The best way to clean diamond rings 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," advises Mann. "If needed, repeat."
In addition to dish soap, you can also use shampoo or body wash. But, whatever you choose as your ring cleaner, just avoid anything that is moisturizing.
Products that moisturize tend to leave a film on the ring, which is exactly what you're trying to avoid. As for drying off your ring, avoid paper towels; they can actually scratch the metal. Instead, use a soft cloth made of cotton or let it air dry.
How Often Should I Clean My Ring?
To keep your ring looking its best, try to clean it once a week. That's enough to keep everyday oil and buildup at bay. About twice a year, however, it's good to take it to be cleaned at your jeweler—even more often if your ring has been exposed to a high level of debris. "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," Mann says. You may be able to get away with less frequent cleanings by taking it off during activities that may damage or dirty it.
What Not to Use When Cleaning Your Diamond Ring
The only thing worse than a ring that has lost its luster is a ring that's damaged due to improper care. You should never use household cleaners such as bleach, chlorine, and acetone. "These harsh chemicals can break down some of the base metals in your ring," Mann says. "Also, never use any kind of abrasive products such as toothpaste, baking soda, or any powdered cleaners, which can easily scratch metals, particularly gold."
Don't Use Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners at Home
While ultrasonic jewelry cleaners do produce a sparkling result, the machine works by sending vibrations through the water and cleaning solution in a matter of minutes. All that vigorous movement can cause stones to become loose or even fall out in the machine, Mann says. And while a professional jeweler can test the stones to see if they're all still intact (and secure them on the spot), you would never know at home if one of your pavé set stones became loose in the machine—unless, of course, it fell all the way out, in which case you—hopefully have your ring insured—have to go to the jeweler anyway.
Where to Get Your Ring Professionally Cleaned
If your ring came from a local jeweler, there's a good chance professional cleaning is offered as a lifetime complimentary service. Having your ring cleaned at the same place it was purchased is best because the jewelers will be most familiar with your specific ring and how to care for it. When looking for a new place to take your ring for cleaning, speak with the jeweler who will actually be performing the service. You'll want to look for someone with experience caring for jewelry similar to yours in materials, age (important for antiques), and structure, and with an understanding of the piece you own.