You’ve definitely heard diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and that they last forever. These ideas were deliberately crafted by a clever ad campaign, and we still live by them today. There’s also the idea that a diamond ring should cost three month’s salary. But whether your ring is a family heirloom or an expensive engagement gift, you want to keep it beautiful and sparkly.
As you consider how to clean a diamond ring, you should think about the metal. Diamonds are expensive, so they’re unlikely to be fitted on cheap ore. So the ring is probably gold, silver, platinum, or titanium. And while diamonds can withstand abrasion and harsh treatment, you want a cleaning system that won’t damage the metal. Let’s look at some diamond cleaning tips.
1. Block All Holes
You’re probably going to clean your ring next to a sink. This could be a bathroom or kitchen sink, or maybe an outdoor washbasin. Rings can easily fall down the drain or get lost in the grass if you’re cleaning outside. So make sure you’ve put the stopper in the drain and blocked holes.
These may include grills, grates, or spaces your ring could fall through. It also includes the bathtub and toilet – put the lid down! It’s so easy to fling your ring out of your fingers as you clean it. So cover everything up to avoid it, just in case.
2. Inspect the Ring
We’re not talking about spotting a real diamond from a fake. Yes, this could help with your cleaning techniques, but that’s not the focus of the assessment. Instead, you want to see whether your stone or stones are secure in their settings. If not, they might slip out while you clean.
So if any diamonds are loose, have them reset or repaired before you fiddle with the ring. Carefully inspecting your jewelry will also identify any particular stains or spots that may need extra attention. You can re-check those spots after cleaning to be sure you got all the dirt out.
3. Think About Those Stains
Generally speaking, rings have lots of decorative detail, and that’s where the dirt hides. When you’re figuring out how to clean a diamond ring, think about the types of dirt involved. It’s mostly your body’s natural sebum mixed with hand lotion, beauty products, bits of food, hand soap, and things you touch. Pay extra attention to those gaps and spaces to get them all out.
If your diamond ring is one you wear every day, think about the things you’re routinely exposed to. Do you work with glue, grease, petroleum products, chemicals? Might your ring get stained by printing ink, product label paint, condiments, or other products that ordinary people aren’t exposed too? This can all affect the choice of cleaning agent you select for your diamond ring.
4. Consider the Setting
How are your stones arranged in your diamond ring? The three most common styles are solitaire, side settings, and pavé settings or bead settings. Solitaire rings have one main diamond held in place with prongs. Side settings have smaller diamonds flanking the main stone, while bead settings have multiple smaller diamonds studded into the metal via bars, prongs, or bezels.
For pavé rings and even some side-set rings, commercial cleaning might dislodge the stone. So whether you’re mechanically cleaning at home or using a jeweler’s cleaning service, avoid ultrasonic cleaning tools. The vibration of those waves could remove the stone from its setting.
5. Use Non-Abrasive Products
Yes, diamond is the toughest material in existence. You can only cut it using another diamond. But polished diamonds can still get married, fogged, or scratched. And the metallic parts of your ring can be damaged too. So make sure your cleaning products won’t damage the metal or the precious stone. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to get rid of any dark spots or grime build-up.
You can also use a child’s hairbrush, a doll’s brush, or a leather shoe brush. You want something soft enough to activate foam and pick off bits off dirt but not so hard that the bristles damage the metal. And you don’t want to dislodge any bonding agents between the metal and the stone. Soft, fine bristles can slip between the gaps without breaking off and sticking inside those gaps.
6. Soak at Least Thirty Minutes
Whichever system you opt for, you want to give the cleaning agent time to fully work. And the longer it soaks, the deeper it cleans. This is a crucial step because ring settings have lots of corners and crevices. Some are decorative, like engravings or jeweler’s logos. You might also find rings with the polishing dates, owner’s names, or brands, store details, and serial numbers.
But some gaps in the diamond ring are functional, like the grooves that hold the stone in place. Or gaps designed for expansion and contraction. Either way, dirt hides in these gaps, and soaking gives the cleansing agent sufficient time to absorb and/or lift all the grime and dirt. You’ll clean your diamond ring about once a week, so don’t use anything too harsh for soaking.
7. Liquid Soap Works
Start with a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a glass or bowl. Preferably a see-through bowl. That way, you have an eye on the ring the whole time so you’re less likely to dump it out. You can also see any dregs of dirt. Add some warm water to the soap and agitate to form suds. Let the ring sit in the foamy water for 15 minutes to half an hour before brushing the ring carefully.
The reason dish soap works so well is that it’s food-grade, so it’s non-toxic and won’t harm the metal or the diamond. But it’s also designed to remove the toughest food stains, from greasy cooking fats to burnt food and acidic residue, so it can handle any kind of dirt your diamond ring throws at it. You can also use shampoo or shower gel since both are good at cleaning sebum.
8. Clean the Metal First
This tip is somewhat controversial, especially for fancy diamond rings. Many of us prefer lean, green, cleaning machines – even for our higher-end possessions. But purists will say products like baking soda, or toothpaste could devalue your ring. You should definitely avoid bleach since it will discolor certain metals e.g. silver but you can remove tarnish with ketchup.
Curiously, light-colored beer is good for shining the gold part of your ring. Vodka or seltzer can make your diamond more sparkly. Seltzer re-shines silver too. So consider spot cleaning the different parts of your ring. You can use toothpaste to clean every part of a silver ring, but avoid it if your diamond is set with pearls – the toothpaste will corrode those calcite ‘sea-stones’.
9. Watch the Stone
While these household products are good for metal, some of them can damage gemstones. So if you’re using any of the items in Tip #6, keep the diamond protected. On the other hand, some household cleaners are safe for the diamond itself. Try Windex and window cleaning fluids.
They’re great for shining your diamond and soaking up any grimy residue. And they’re safe on metals too. But remember, Windex is designed for glass, so it’s safe for silica-based gemstones. You can also mix one part Windex with one part Hydrogen Peroxide to make a cleaning mix. Use a toothbrush to get rid of stubborn spots, then rinse and pat dry to avoid leaving streaks.
10. Use Witch Hazel
We’ve touched on some home solutions like alcohols and acids. But you can make your own cleaning cream by mixing some of the items we’ve already discussed. Baking soda can be abrasive, so instead of soaking the ring in a mix of vinegar and baking soda, soak the ring in white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. You can dilute either option with water to add volume.
Add a few drops of Witch Hazel for extra luster. After soaking, brush your ring with a clean toothbrush dipped in your chosen liquid. If the ring is still dull, dip the toothbrush in some baking soda and brush the ring briefly before rinsing. Not too long, or you might scratch the metal surface of the diamond ring. Also, review the naysayers before you try these DIY tactics.
11. Avoid Acetone
Lots of DIY guides suggest cleaning your ring with nail varnish remover. Acetone, just like bleach or anything with chlorine, will damage most metals. If the ring is gold, you could use ammonia (or gold-colored beer as we mentioned earlier, but no dark ales). Some jewelers will also advise you to avoid baking soda, toothpaste, or powder detergents for the same reason.
This can be puzzling because these home cleaning solutions can fix anything! Especially home-made tonics of white vinegar and baking soda. But while they’ll get the diamond clean, they could ruin the metal. So unless your diamond is set in platinum or titanium, be wary of these.
12. Use a Store-Bought Jewelry Cleaner
If your concern is how to clean a diamond ring occasionally, you’re probably okay. But since you’re cleaning weekly, if you have multiple pieces to manage, consider buying a commercial jewelry cleaner. This could be an ultrasonic device you can use at home – if your jewelry isn’t studded. Or it could be a metal cleaning cream like Brasso or a jewelry gel like Simple Shine.
You can apply these pastes, creams, and gels using a toothbrush or a polishing cloth. Read the instructions on the pack to see whether they’re safe for your ring type and whether they should be applied to wet or dry items. For Brasso, avoid touching the diamond – the liquid is just for the metallic sections of your ring. You can mask off the diamond with tape to avoid damage.
13. Repeat As Needed
Your diamond ring picks up a lot of dirt, so it’s unlikely to get clean after just one wash cycle. You may have to repeat this process three or four times to be sure. That’s why it helps to use a white dish or clear glass. That way, you can see any dregs of dirt at the bottom of the dish. Rinse and repeat, scrubbing the ring with a clean toothbrush each time. Don’t re-use the soiled brush.
This doesn’t mean you need multiple brushes, but be sure to soap and rinse the brush separately between cycles. Otherwise, all you’re doing is adding dirt onto your clean ring. And this dirt could grind into the metal causing scratches and blemishes, so always use a clean toothbrush. You may need to have a designated toothbrush since you’re cleaning once a week …
14. Rinse in Clean Water
Let the ring sit in warm, clean water for at least half an hour to get rid of any debris. Then take out the ring and brush it again with a clean toothbrush. Pat the ring dry with a soft lint-free cloth. Some DIY sites suggest you air-dry the ring, but air-drying may leave watermarks on the metal.
This gives you additional work since you’ll have to buff these watermarks out. That’s why lint-free drying is best. Pat the ring– don’t wipe. This prevents liquid streaks. And if you’re really set on drying your ring by air, use a hair-dryer instead, pun intended. Set it to warm, not hot.
15. Call a Professional
For extremely expensive rings, you don’t want to be messing around with body wash. But even with more pocket-friendly everyday wedding rings, a professional clean is helpful. So in addition to your weekly washes, take your ring to a jeweler once or twice a year. Use the same jeweler that sold you the ring, or use the same service consistently, since they’ll be familiar with the jewelry.
Jewelers will use commercial steaming tools and ultrasonic cleaners, but they can use them safely. Plus, in case of any damage during cleaning, a trusted jeweler will cover the cost. But even if they don’t, they’ll evaluate the ring before and tell you of any dints or blemishes. Either way, read the receipt or release document carefully to see who is liable for loss or repairs …
What methods and products do you use to clean your diamonds? Tell us in the comments!