How to Clean your Engagement Ring (at home)



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Wedding Planning

The first few weeks of being newly engaged, you are flashing that ring non-stop. But a few months later you might notice the sparkle start to dim. Since our rings are on our hands, they can get dull really quickly. The oils from our hands, face, or hair all starts to build up and attract dirt which adheres to that oil. Sunscreen and lotions create even more build-up.

The macro reveals all!

From a distance you may not notice the dirt but during your engagement session and on your wedding day, I am photographing your ring with a macro lens which means I can see every facet- and all the build up on the ring. In some instances I can even see natural features in the stone itself. This means that build up is crystal clear- and kinda gross.

Take a look at these two image comparisons. This is my ring and to mimic a few weeks of build up I dunked it in flour and toweled it off. The top image is the dirty image, the bottom is after I cleaned it with the method I describe further down.

Top image is not cleaned. Bottom image is after a cleaning.
Top image is not cleaned. Bottom image is after a cleaning. In the bottom image, if you look to the top of the ring you can see little black lines- those are the natural occlusions in the diamond- thats how sharp the macro lens is.

How to clean your ring

The best solution is of course to take the ring to your preferred professional jeweler. Many jewelers will even offer this service for free. For the wedding week I suggest doing this a few days before the wedding and leaving your ring in a box as much as possible to protect the shine.

However sometimes schedules don’t allow time for an extra errand – this method will work and you can do it right before you walk out the door.

At Home Cleaning Method

The trick is to be gentle. You should definitely ask your jeweler if they have tips specific to your ring but I have found at home the following works well for me and is what I did on my ring for the above images.

  1. Microwave a little windex in a bowl WITHOUT THE RING for 15 seconds until warm. Do NOT put your ring in the microwave. The liquid should be warm/hot- but not so hot you can’t touch it.
  2. Take the Windex out of the microwave and let the ring sit in the bowl for about 2 minutes.
  3. Take a nail brush or toothbrush and gently brush it if stubborn dirt remains after the soak.

That should be it! It’s camera ready!

Some people don’t like Windex for jewelry and you can substitute dawn dish-soap.

What to Avoid

You should avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach, acetone and the like because over time they can harm the metal or stones. You also want to avoid abrasive cleaners that come in a powdered form such as baking soda or toothpaste. Gold in particular is a soft metal which can scratch and dull. If you notice your metals are dull, a professional jeweler can buff the ring back to new.

You should also be wary of Ultra Sonic Cleaners at home. These send little pulses and vibrations through the liquid to loosen dirt. While that can help remove stubborn dirt, it might also upset the stone(s)- especially pavé set diamonds. Confer with your trusted jeweler before using these.

A Note about Pearls

Pearls are organic and as such cannot be treated like diamonds, gemstones, or metals. Pearls have very specific care instructions. In general, absolutely no cleaners or chemicals of any kind should ever touch your pearls- they can eat away the surface of the pearl (like how acids can eat at the enamel of your teeth). Pearls are also prone to scratch and should be stored away from other jewelry.

The best way to care for pearls is actually to wear them! They benefit from the natural oils in our skin and also like to “breathe” so they should not be stored in bags or air tight spaces. If they get dirty from make up, use a gentle cloth and just rub off the makeup. Remember to take them in to your jeweler for checkups and to test the integrity of the knots (for strings of pearls) or fastens to rings or earings.

Ring Photo Inspiration

Any blog post that talks about rings is a great excuse to post some of my favorite ring photos!


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