Like anything of value, it needs TLC, too!
◾Always put your ring on last -- after clothing, make-up, hairspray and perfume. The prongs on your ring can (and will!) snag on clothes as you get dresses. Furthermore, the chemicals and oils in cosmetics can dull its shine. If your ring has opals, pearls or turquoise in it, the chemicals can even damage it.
◾Let your ring rest in a safe place while you do chores around the house, garden, or play sports. Make sure to store your jewellery properly. Diamonds can scratch emeralds, platinum can chip rubies and gold chains can kink and tangle with pearl strands. Each piece should be individually wrapped in velvet, tissue or some other soft material and stored in a jewellery box or bag.
Cleaning your Ring
Most rings that are made from precious metals are polished, so don't scrub them with a toothbrush. That will leave small scratches that will compromise the polish. A better approach to cleaning fine, polished rings is to leave them soaking overnight in:
◾a half water/half ammonia solution
◾a diluted mild detergent solution
◾a small glass of vodka (yes, really!)
◾a small glass of alcohol
◾a jewellery cleanser, according to instructions
Be sure to rinse well after using any of these cleaning agents, and to pay dry with a lint free cloth. Any of these solutions will gently dissolve the organic materials that rob your rock of its shine. (Note: for pearls, coral, opals or other organic gems, see below)
Most any jewellery store can steam clean your ring in just a couple minutes. Best of all, it's often a free service! Avoid allowing anyone but an expert polish your ring, because it it's done incorrectly, it can add years of wear to it.
Cleaning Celtic and Patterned Rings
Celtic jewellery and even weddings, are becoming increasingly popular in North America. Many of these rings are heavily patterned and feature designs with some type of antique or darkening agent to accentuate the depth of the design. It's critical not to use a toothbrush, paint thinner, or any type of acetone on this type of jewellery to avoid dissolving the darkening agent on it.
Many surface treatments used on this type of jewellery are subject to wear, so it won't last forever. When it starts to show wear and tear, talk to your jeweller about sprucing it up. It's not a complicated or expensive process, and can sometimes even be done at home.
It's important to note that for this type of ring, professional steam cleaning AND the use of a toothbrush will quickly deteriorate the darkening agent, and should be avoided.
Pearls, Opals and Turquoises
These gems are much softer and more porous than their harder counterparts like diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds.
As a matter of course, pearls should frequently be wiped clean with a soft cloth or rubbed with your fingers. Fingernails have the same hardness as pearls, so they won't scratch their surface. Never use solvents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda, milk, dishwashing liquid or chemical cleaning solutions on pearls. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner with pearls or you risk shattering them. Steam cleaning is also a no-no, as it's too hot for pearls.
Aside from gently wiping with a cloth or fingers, the only alternatives for these fragile gems are professional cleaning or a solution designed for pearls.
Opals and turquoise need gentle care as well. Avoid soaking them in anything. Rather, just wipe them clean with a damp, soft cloth. If this isn't adequate, take them to a professional.
Getting a Tune Up
All the cleaning in the world won't take the place of getting your ring professionally inspected by a jeweller on a periodic basis. An annual inspection is usually adequate, but ask your jeweller what's best for your particular ring. A professional will take a close look at it and ensure that the prongs that hold the gem in place are fully intact. Skip this important responsibility, and risk losing your precious gemstone without noticing.
In between professional inspections, try to frequently check the stability of your prongs by holding the ring up to your ear and tapping on it. A loose stone will sound loose. If you even suspect a problem, bag that ring and run it to the jeweller. Don't take chances.
A professional inspection will also catch early nicks in a setting or in a stone. Many of these can be easily repaired if caught early.
Take good care of your rings, and they'll be your treasures for a lifetime!