Your engagement ring isn't just a symbol of your union. It's also an heirloom in the making, a precious piece of jewelry that can be passed down through generations—as long as you take proper care of it.
While you may (err, should) already know to avoid opening boxes or attempting to pop bottle tops with your sparkler (trust us, people do try), there are a few unexpected, everyday activities that can put your ring in harm's way. We contacted a few experts—Debra Dolphin, a gemologist at Blue Nile, and Elizabeth Woolf-Willis, marketing associate at Simon G.—for their best advice on what to do, and what to avoid, to keep your ring lovely for a lifetime.
Meet the Expert
- Debra Dolphin is a jewelry expert, graduate gemologist, and customer service manager at Blue Nile, an online diamond and engagement ring retailer.
- Elizabeth Woolf-Willis is a certified gemologist and marketing coordinator for Simon G. and Zeghani Jewelry.
Don't Wear It During Vigorous Sports
Any activity that involves impact to your hands (from contact sports like volleyball to weightlifting) can bend or break the prongs that hold your stone in place, causing it to fall out of its setting. Similarly, experts warn against wearing it during water activities such as swimming, water skiing, or boating, as it's far easier for your ring to slip off when your hands are wet. "I've heard so many stories about rings getting lost in lakes and oceans," Woolf-Willis says. Even walking or jogging could put your ring in contact with the elements.
If you work out a lot, consider a rubber ring that you won't have to worry about at all.
Don't Wear It While Cleaning
According to Dolphin, ordinary cleaning materials won't damage your diamond (delicate pearls are another matter). "During the cutting process, the stones are cleaned by boiling them in acid. This makes them impervious to chemicals," she says. However, household cleaners such as bleach and common chemicals, such as acetone nail polish remover and chlorine from pools, can also erode alloys in precious metals. So to be safe, it makes sense to take off your ring while cleaning (just be sure to put it in a safe place in the meantime). The same holds true if you go swimming, as chlorine can seriously damage your gold or platinum band.
Don't Leave It Unchecked
Even if you don't wear your ring while exercising, normal daily activity—say, fabric snags—can loosen prongs, putting your stone in danger of falling out. Our experts recommend regular checks by an experienced jeweler every six to 12 months to make sure the settings are secure.
You can get your rings professionally cleaned at the same time. However, if you'd like to clean your ring yourself, our experts recommend using mild soap, warm water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush or a solution of five parts water, one part ammonia (for diamonds). And keep in mind to never use silver cleaner on anything that's not silver, Woolf-Willis says. Having your ring insured in case something does happen is a good idea as well.