Wedding jewellery is a lot like your relationship: If you want it to be as sparkly and magical as it was in the beginning, you’ll need to put in a little work. Make sure your engagement ring and wedding band look great for the long haul with regular cleanings and maintenance, both at home and with the help of the pros. “Engagement and wedding rings are everyday jewellery, and everyday jewellery can take a beating,” says Katie Zimmerman, chief merchant officer at the Blue Nile. “I recommend getting your ring professionally cleaned, polished, and prongs inspected once a year to maintain the setting’s integrity.” Her jewellers use high-pressure steam and an ultrasonic machine to clean and polish bands for their clients, and they routinely check that the stones and prongs are secure.
In between professional ring cleanings, you can use at-home solutions to keep your rings in good condition. Commercial jewellery cleaners are easy to use, but, warns Zimmerman, brands made with ammonia—which won’t hurt diamonds—can “get a bit harsh on your gemstones should you not wash it off or have them soak for an extensive period of time.” (So, if you’re wearing your grandmother’s amethyst or your mother-in-law’s sapphire, for example, look for a cleanser that’s ammonia-free.) An even easier option: Dish soap. “Mix a dime-size amount with warm water and soak your jewellery for 30 minutes,” says Zimmerman. “For added shine, use a small toothbrush to remove debris in the prongs or pavé. Buildup blocks light interactions with the stone, so keep it at peak brilliance with a gentle cleaning routine every few weeks.”
More elaborate repairs—like replacing prongs, resetting stones, or re-plating the metal—will need a professional hand. “Jewelry repairs are like the tread on your tires,” says Zimmerman. “It depends on the wear and tear as well as the type of metal. Some rings will need to be re-plated once a year, while others can go for two years. It depends on how well the ring is taken care of, and if it is treated like fine jewellery.” Platinum, the most durable metal, may not ever need to be re-dipped; the metal’s density and weight means it “holds up exceptionally well to time and daily wear,” says Zimmerman. White gold, though, which gets its colour from being plated with protective, hard white rhodium, will require re-plating when its shine dulls.
Though wedding jewellery is tough enough to stand up to your everyday activities, some of the things you do on a regular basis could negatively impact how your rings look. “My top recommendations would be to remove your rings while gardening, in the kitchen, swimming, and showering,” says Zimmerman. “The chemicals in pool water or the ocean can be abrasive on both stones and metal. Lotion can also make the jewellery look dull and dirty.” While keeping your ring on for these types of activities is not likely to cause permanent damage, removing it will help you keep it sparkling between professional cleanings—but not instead of. “It’s impossible to keep your treasure looking new without regular ring maintenance,” says Zimmerman, “no matter how much you take it off.”
How Often to Clean Your Ring
You may not realize it, but many of your everyday habits can quickly take that brilliant sparkle off of your diamond ring. For example, shampoo, hairspray, hand lotions, hand soaps and cooking oils can leave a cloudy sheen across your diamond and your band. For this reason, it’s a good idea to clean your ring every week if you want to keep it in tip-top sparkly shape.
Consider bringing your ring to a jeweller for a professional deep clean twice a year. Suppose you lead an active lifestyle or like to get your hands dirty with, e.g., gardening. In that case, you may want to get your ring professionally cleaned more often, especially for a big event like an anniversary party.
How to Clean a Diamond Ring: All Metal Types (Platinum, Silver, White Gold, and Gold)
Soap and Water
The best way to clean a diamond ring, no matter your ring’s setting and/or metal type, is plain soap and water. To make the solution, get a small bowl and add very warm water and basic dishwashing soap. Soak your ring for about 20 to 40 minutes depending on how dirty it is. If you need to remove a substance such as a hairspray, lotion, makeup, or perfume, use a very soft toothbrush to remove any residue. Rinse the ring under warm running water and repeat if necessary. Using chlorine or other harsh chemicals, even some certified jewellery cleaners, can damage the engagement ring. It’s important to rinse your ring thoroughly after cleaning in order to remove any soap residue.
Non-Abrasive and Chemical-Free Solution
It’s important to do your research when purchasing a jewellery cleaner/polisher. If there are any chemicals in the solution, your diamond ring can become discoloured or lose its durability. Sparkle Bright is a highly rated jewellery cleaner that can polish and restore rings of any metal type.
Windex and Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
Here’s how to clean a diamond ring with hydrogen peroxide: get a small bowl and prepare a 50/50 solution of Windex and hydrogen peroxide. Soak your diamond ring for about 10–15 minutes. The Windex will remove the day-to-day dirt buildup, and the hydrogen peroxide will kill any bacteria on the ring. After soaking your engagement ring in the solution, gently scrub your ring with a soft toothbrush to remove residue. Rinse with lukewarm water and dry.
Pour 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda into a shallow bowl. Mix the solution so that the baking soda is completely dissolved. Soak your diamond ring in the solution for two to three hours. Then rinse your ring under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a tarnished silver ring, then ketchup could be your solution to getting the shine back. Dunk your band into a small bowl of ketchup for a few minutes. Use a soft toothbrush to work ketchup into the crevices, then rinse the ring with lukewarm water and dry. Be sure not to leave the ketchup on your band for more than a few minutes.
If your solid gold ring is losing its lustre, try pouring a little bit of beer onto a soft cloth and rubbing it gently over the band. Do not rub the beer on your gemstones or diamond, and be sure to avoid dark ale beer. After you’ve rubbed the beer onto the band, use a second cloth or towel to dry.
What Not to Use When Cleaning Your Ring
Diamonds are famous for their strength, but that doesn’t mean you should consider using harsh cleaning chemicals for giving your ring a scrub. Chemicals like bleach, chlorine and acetone can break down the metal in your band.
Use only the softest of brushes on your diamond. Hard-bristled toothbrushes and scrub pads may scratch your diamond, marring its beautiful sparkle and lowering its values. Likewise, abrasive cleaners, like baking soda, powdered cleaners or even toothpaste, can damage your band. Gold bands, in particular, scratch very easily.
Take care when choosing specialized jewellery cleaners. Be sure to choose a cleaner without chemicals or abrasive components. Even certain chemicals that won’t harm your ring could discolour your diamond.
Caring for Your Diamond Ring
While it’s important to know how to clean a diamond ring safely, it’s also important to be aware of the things you should not do when cleaning a ring. The last thing you want to do is damage your ring or cause it to age prematurely.
Thick lotions and creams can result in residue buildup on your ring. This can make your ring look and feel dirty, and cause it to become discoloured—especially if your band is made of white gold or platinum.
Your ring is a fragile object; therefore, it’s extremely important that you handle it with care. If you bang your ring onto something hard enough, it could chip the band or loosen the setting. If you know that you’re going to do something labour-intensive, take off your ring and put it in a safe place.
If you have a warranty, it’s important to stay up-to-date on your maintenance appointments. Being proactive and bringing your ring in to be inspected by a jeweller can prevent any stones from falling out and resolve any chip or crack issues.
Remove your ring while cooking. Food and other oils can get stuck in or discolour your ring.
Depending on the setting of your stone, food may be almost impossible to remove from the ring. It’s important to take care of your ring, as it has tremendous sentimental value. If you’re ever questioning whether or not a solution or treatment is safe for cleaning your ring, do yourself a favour and consult a professional.
What Not to Use When Cleaning Your Diamond Ring
The only thing worse than a ring that has lost its lustre 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 abrasive products such as toothpaste, baking soda, or any powdered cleaners, which can easily scratch metals, particularly gold.”
How to Clean Gold Jewelry at Home, According to Experts
Don’t Use Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners at Home.
While ultrasonic jewellery cleaners produce a sparkling result, the machine works by sending vibrations through the water and cleaning solution in a matter of minutes. Mann says that vigorous movement can cause stones to become loose or even fall out in the machine. And while a professional jeweller 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 out, in which case you—hopefully have your ring insured—have to go to the jeweller anyway.
Where to Get Your Ring Professionally Cleaned
If your ring came from a local jeweller, there’s a good chance professional cleaning offered as a lifetime complimentary service. Having your ring cleaned at the same place it was purchased is best because the jewellers 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 jeweller who will be performing the service. You’ll want to look for someone with experience caring for jewellery similar to yours in materials, age (important for antiques), and structure. With an understanding of the piece, you own.
Homemade jewellery cleaner
One popular site specializing in do-it-yourself natural remedies recommends the following:
Put the jewellery in a glass mason jar.
Cover with 1/2 cup of vinegar or witch hazel. Add one drop of tea tree oil and swirl to mix.
Allow jewellery to soak in the mixture overnight.
The next morning, coat with baking soda and scrub with an old toothbrush, then rinse with water.
Our Advice: Every element in this method has the potential to damage your jewellery. Both witch hazel and vinegar are slightly acidic and won’t agree with soft or porous stones or plated jewellery.
Baking soda is also slightly abrasive, which could scratch softer stones and metals.
Finally, using an old toothbrush is not the best recommendation either. Old toothbrushes will have toothpaste residue, which will scratch the jewellery.
Salt, Baking Soda & Dish Detergent
A prevalent resource for everything from fashion to food proposes the following to clean your jewellery at home:
- Line a bowl with aluminium foil and top with salt, baking soda, and dish detergent.
- Add hot water and drop in your jewellery, letting it sit for 10 minutes.
- Gently scrub with an old toothbrush.
- Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
Our Advice: Again, there are potential issues with both the ingredients and methods in this suggestion.
You have abrasive baking soda, plus the instruction to scrub with an old, potentially contaminated, toothbrush. Steer clear of this method.
Hot Water & Baking Soda
A top cleaning resource suggests a simpler recipe:
Let your rings sit for a few minutes in one cup of hot water with 1-2 tsp baking soda.
Our Advice: At least this recipe calls for fewer ingredients and no damaging tools. However, we still have the issue of abrasive baking soda, even in this simple solution.
Our Recommended Homemade Jewelry Cleaner
Dish Detergent & Warm Water
The best homemade jewellery cleaning solution is a mixture of a few Dawn dish detergent drops in warm, not hot, water.
Let the piece sit in the solution for a few minutes, longer if it’s very dirty, then gently scrub with a new, baby-size, soft toothbrush. To rinse, place the item in a new container of lukewarm water.
Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold, as some gemstones do not take well to drastic changes in temperature.
You can dry the piece off with a paper towel or a regular cloth, as long as you’re careful not to snag the prongs on the fibres.
Things to Never Do to Your Engagement Ring
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.
Don’t Wear It While Cleaning.
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. However, household cleaners such as bleach and common chemicals, such as acetone nail polish remover and chlorine from pools, can erode alloys in precious metals. So to be safe, it makes sense to take off your ring while cleaning (be sure to put it in a safe place in the meantime). The same holds 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 jeweller 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.