Engagement Ring Care: 10 Tips with the Experts

For the betrothed who aren’t accustomed to wearing fine jewelry on the regular (which, let’s be honest, is most of us), engagement ring care for the first time is a bit like babysitting a newborn. You’ll look down at your sparkly new addition and have a lot of questions: Should I wear it to sleep? Take it off when I shower? Can I really clean it with dish soap?

All valid questions. Since an engagement ring will likely be the most expensive piece of jewelry you’ve ever owned, it’s no wonder that the newly engaged feel clueless about how to incorporate it into their daily lives. Here, a few insightful tips from industry experts on how to properly care for your engagement ring.

1. Clean your engagement ring regularly–at home and professionally.

“Buildup of dirt or oil will block the light interactions in the stone, so there’s no point in having a beautifully cut diamond if it’s going to be dirty,” says Tom Burstein, Christie’s international jewelry director. “If you’re not cleaning it, then you’re not doing the stone justice because it’s not living up to its potential.” At-home cleanings will help rid of some debris and buildup, but nothing beats regular professional cleanings. 

Luckily, a DIY cleaning isn’t a labor-intensive process. Drop it into a mug of lukewarm water mixed with a few drops of mild or Ivory soap. Let it sit for a few minutes (or even overnight), then gently scrub the stone and basket with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse, pat dry with a lint-free cloth, or blow dry if you’re in a time crunch. Burstein recommends cleaning it at least once every few weeks, and when it’s at home, “make sure you cover the drain!” 

2. Don’t polish your ring too often. 

Proper ring care involves more than just routine professional cleanings; the occasional polish should also be on your radar but be careful not to overdo it. “You don’t really want to polish your jewelry that often because, essentially, every time they’re polishing out those scratches, they’re removing microns of metal,” Kaman says, adding that it ultimately thins the ring. “When you bring your jewelry in for cleaning, they may also polish it up.” To prevent any misunderstandings, explicitly state whether you desire a polish. Vito Klahejian, owner of fine jewelry store Arka Designs, recommends a polish every three to five years.

3. Remember that while diamonds are tough, they’re not invincible.

Perhaps you’ve heard that it’s impossible to damage a diamond? Not true, says Burstein. While the stones are considered the hardest naturally occurring metal in the world, they can still fracture, bruise, and chip. And Burstein explains that it’s not a function of time or extended wear and tear: “Prong mountings are very secure and it takes a pretty aggressive knock, but it happens. I’ve seen a month-old ring with a big chip in it,” he says. “It’s like driving a new car off the lot and getting rear-ended.” With that in mind, take it easy on your ring and leave it home if you’re say, rock climbing. No one wants to get a chip or find loose stones (or lost stones!) in their ring.

4. So, steer clear of harsh chemicals.

“White gold is typically plated at the very end with white rhodium,” Kaman says. Rhodium plating involves dipping a piece of jewelry into a silvery-white metal to improve its durability and shine. “But when the rhodium starts to wear down, you will see a different coloration, so it will look like a warmer white, but it’s not as saturated as yellow gold.” 

5. Know when to remove your ring and when to keep it on.

Sure, it’s tempting to slip your diamond ring off every time you wash your hands, but try and resist the urge, says Daniela Balzano-Hull, the New York store director for De Beers. “It takes a while to get used to having this beautiful ring, and you want to protect it as much as you can, but so many brides end up washing their hands in a restaurant and leaving the ring behind.” Still, there are other occasions that experts recommend going ringless—like a day at the beach. Balzano-Hull warns that swimming can greatly affect your body temperature, causing your finger to shrink in size. Klahejian agrees that the beach is a no-go, considering prolonged exposure to sand weakens the ring’s metal. 

The rules for when you should and shouldn’t wear your diamond also depend on the type of stones you have. “If you have a more delicate ring with micro pavé stones, don’t wear it to play tennis or golf or during rigorous exercise. The stones tend to pop out more easily than others,” Burstein says. As for sleeping? Both he and Balzano-Hull agree that it’s strictly a matter of comfort and personal preference.

6. Get the rock insured as soon as possible.

“I recommend jewelersmutal.com,” Klahejian says. “God forbid you lose it, or it gets stolen from you, at least the money that you spent doesn’t go to waste.” Most companies—either homeowners insurance or renters insurance—will add the ring to their existing policy with a rider that includes a valuation of all the characteristics. “The valuation comes from the jeweler and goes above and beyond just the purchase receipt,” adds Balzano-Hull. “Some men will buy the ring, leave with it, and not propose for a few months, so it’s important that document goes to the insurance company right away.”

7. Be cautious when it comes to resizing your wedding ring.

Seasonal changes in temperature, weight fluctuations, and traveling can all affect the fit of your ring—so keep that in mind before jumping to have yours resized. At De Beers, Balzano-Hull prefers to size buyers in the late afternoon (2:30 p.m. specifically) or after they’ve exercised, to accommodate for swelling. “We also always ask clients where they live. If they’re from somewhere tropical and they’re trying the ring on in New York, we suggest going one size larger,” she says, adding, “I never recommend making any changes during pregnancies. Most women will just wear a wedding band or not wear anything at all.”