Does Your Diamond Ring Still Sparkle?
Care & Cleaning of Diamond Rings
We are often asked how to care for and clean diamond rings. We have to consider the diamonds, the ring mount, and any other stones apart from diamonds. Other Stones
On this page, we will limit ourselves to the care of the diamonds and mount, for information about any other gemstones, please refer to our A to Z of Gemstones page.
General Diamond Jewelry Care
Diamonds are extremely hard and durable, but there are things which can damage them, so it is important to know what to avoid. Diamonds can be broken by a sharp impact on a hard surface, so dropping a ring onto a concrete floor could cause the diamond to cleave, especially if it struck at precisely the wrong place. This is not very likely to happen, and diamonds are so durable, that you may get away with dropping it onto concrete 1,000 times without damage. We would not recommend the experiment! Rings do come in for a large amount of wear and tear when they are on fingers, and an accidental blow on metal or other hard surface could have a similar or greater effect than being dropped.
This sort of collision damage is more likely to wear or break the ring mount, so it is worth inspecting the ring carefully after any hard knock to ensure that any claws are still intact and the stone is tight.
One of the worst things for causing wear and damage to diamonds is allowing them to rub and knock against other diamonds. This will cause abrasion and chipping, particularly around the girdle of the stone. If you wear several rings next to each other, it is better if there is a metal to metal contact between them. Although this will cause wear, it can be repaired fairly easily. We do see a number of older ladies, who have acquired a number of rings over a long period of time, wearing two, three or more rings on one finger. We even had one customer who had seven diamond rings on one finger. They were all quite large, and the thought of the damage to the diamonds made us cringe. This particular little old lady knew that her enjoyment of her rings was more important than the cost of any damage to them.
A number of years ago, we sold a large cubic zirconia ring to a lady, who brought it back less than six months later with all three stones almost worn away and looking very dull. We replace it, but advised her not to wear against her other diamond rings.
Reasonable care should be taken not to catch diamond settings with filaments of thread, particularly strong synthetic threads which may bend claws, and loosen the stones they are meant to be securing.
It is worth having your ring checked by a jeweller occasionally for wear or damage to the settings, particularly with claw set rings. Of course, you can do this yourself, but most jewellers have suitable magnifying glasses which make close inspection much easier. If you notice a stone which is loose, this should definitely be checked by a jeweller as soon as possible.
Cleaning Diamond Jewelry
When jewelery is worn next to the skin, it will become covered and clogged in oily debris mainly composed of dead skin. Dust and grit become lodged in this. Wearing rings while washing up can also allow a greasy film to coat the backs of stones (diamonds just love grease!), and the inside of settings.
The main purpose of cleaning diamond rings is to remove all this greasy debris, and allow light to enter and leave the diamonds, restoring their sparkle. Nothing you would ever use to clean your ring is likely to damage the diamonds without damaging the mount, so we will describe how to clean the metal part of rings. The mount will normally be made of gold, preferably 18 carat gold, of platinum, or of a mixture of the two. Other gold alloys are not as suitable, for an explanation of this, please refer to our Durability of Gold Alloys page.
The Ring Mount
Most gold or platinum jewelery can be cleaned in warm soapy water, detergent is equally good. It can be gently brushed if necessary using an old tooth brush especially to remove debris behind the stones. It is better to avoid cleaning agents containing abrasives, including toothpaste. Some people swear by gin. All alcohol will dissolve grease, but this is a waste of good gin.
High carat alloys such as 18 carat and above, will not usually become tarnished, and will not be harmed by household chemicals.
Lower carat gold can be harmed by contact with chlorine based bleach and cleaning chemicals.
Chlorine can cause stress corrosion cracking in lower gold alloys of 14 carat and below, although it will be worse if the jewelery contains porosity through less than perfect manufacturing treatments. Because of this it is best to avoid cleaning your jewelery with bleach or other cleaners containing chlorine, and also to avoid wearing it when in contact with bleach.
Proprietary jewelery Cleaner
Most jewelers now sell tubs of “jewelery Cleaner”. Although it will clean your jewelery, it will not necessarily work any better than the warm soapy water we recommend above.
jewelery manufacturers and workshops use ultrasonic cleaning tanks. In these, the actual cleaning is performed by the cleaning solution, usually a mixture of ammonia and detergent, the ultrasonics merely provide the agitation to speed up the process. Small domestic ultrasonic cleaners are now available, and many jewelery stores sell them as gift items. We are not convinced that they work better than soap, water and a brush.
Low carat gold alloys will tarnish or discolour through exposure to air. This tarnish is not removed by ordinary cleaning. To remove it will usually require the application of gentle abrasive to rub away the layer of tarnished gold. In jewelery workshops, acid may to used to dissolve the tarnish layer, but this is not practical at home.
The best way to avoid tarnish is to buy 18 carat gold jewelery, which hardly ever becomes tarnished.
It is unusual for diamonds to be set in silver as it is too soft to be used for diamond rings.
If jewelery with polished surfaces becomes matt and dull over long periods of wear, it can usually be repolished, but we believe that this is not really necessary. Items like diamond rings are bound to become scratched, but we believe that, particularly with high carat golds and platinum, the intrinsic colour of the metal retains its beauty even when scratched and worn.
It is advisable to avoid cleaning stone-set jewelery in a hand-basin. If stones become loose in cleaning, they can easily become lost down the drain.
Right after cleaning is a very common time to discover that stones are missing. Occasionally careless cleaning can be the cause, but usually wear and tear over a period of time are the real cause, and the cleaning merely appears to be the cause. Damage and trauma to jewelery can occur in everyday use, and sometimes the stones are only held in their settings by a build up of grease. When this is removed by cleaning, the stones drop out.
Reprinted from http://www.24carat.co.uk/