Caring for and Cleaning your Diamond Engagement Ring
What is the hardest natural substance on earth? Diamonds. Legend says diamonds are indestructible. Diamonds are remarkable gems, hard enough to scratch everything, including themselves. Diamonds that rub together will scratch each other, so keep diamonds from touching one another when you wear or store them.
Diamonds are crystals that grow with a cleavage plane. This means a sharp blow on a vulnerable spot can chip or break the stone. This does not mean that diamonds are not very durable. They are the most durable of all gems. In fact diamonds have been through a lot of stress before they reach you. The mining process and cutting tests the stone long before it reaches you. With conscious care, the diamond can last for generations just as beautiful as the day you got it.
Diamonds can withstand most chemicals, unfortunately the metal jewelry cannot and will be damaged by them. Most notable is chlorine. Chlorine doesn't hurt the diamond just the jewelry. Ammonia may also turn some solder joints dark. Diamonds take heat well, but if the stone has been treated, some precautions should be taken.
Hardness is how we judge how easily things scratch. Some technical numbers show how a higher number scratches the same number and anything lower. Hardness is related to the Mohs hardness scale. Diamond is the hardest at 10. Talc is listed as 1 the softest. Pure gold (24 karat) is Mohs 2.5, 14 and 18 karat list at Mohs 3. Platinum list at Mohs 4.33. Sterling silver list at Mohs 2.5. This shows why jewelry metals get scratched by things like hard toothbrushes and dirt (most dirt ranges 4-8 on the Mohs scale).
Several different types of settings hold diamonds in the jewelry. From time to time gently touch the stone to see if it moves. If the stone moves, don't wear it and have a professional jeweler tighten the gem. Most jewelry stores will check you jewelry for free. Take advantage of this service.
Know your jewelry. Some jewelry designs are very robust; others are very delicate. Jewelry can be designed for every day use or special events only. Understanding the limits of your jewelry should allow for years of enjoyment.
A diamond's spectacular beauty is due to its light show. Diamonds make light reflect, show its many colors, and dazzle. To perform its magic the diamond must be clean.
Diamonds are grease magnets. They will pull the oil from your fingers. Soaps and lotions add a coating that stops the light show. Dust and dirt stick to the grease and oils creating a lifeless diamond.
Cleaning your diamond jewelry at home is simple and rewarding. Use a soft toothbrush and mild soap then rinse thoroughly with warm water. The key to diamond cleaning is the underneath side or pavilion. The light needs a clean surface to bounce upward. The diamond may need to be scrubbed several times before all the build up is removed.
Some don't do's of jewelry cleaning. Never use chlorine or products that contains it. Don't use a hard toothbrush because they tend to scratch the metals (gold, platinum, etc.). Abrasive cleaners and toothpaste or toothpowder will also scratch the metals. This will take away the shine.
Ammonia-based cleaners clean diamonds and gold well but they may hurt other gemstones. It is also not a good idea to soak jewelry for very long in ammonia-based cleaners. Some anti-bacteria cleaners can also degrade the solder used in jewelry, be careful of long exposure to these types of soaps (people in the medical professions especially).
It is safe to use an ultrasonic cleaner with diamond jewelry. Ultrasonic's can damage other gemstones, know for certain it is safe to use. Ethyl alcohol is good for rinsing diamonds because it evaporates so quickly. Do not use rubbing alcohol: it contains oil and will spot and dull the stone. For hard spots you can use toothpicks and dental floss. Be careful not to scratch the metal or lift the prongs. A final wipe with a lint-free cloth will remove any dust or water spots.
One final cleaning precaution, do the cleaning in a bowl on a clean table just in case the diamond becomes dislodged; you can find it easily. I have seen diamonds only held in the jewelry by dirt and grease. If you do the cleaning in a sink, take the precaution of plugging the drain and using a small screen strainer.