For millennia, people have given rings as a sign of love and commitment. And for an individual wearer, they often come to symbolize a lifetime of memories. If you have just received a new ring, congratulations – you now own a precious object that will carry memories as you make them.
Following are some tips on how to care for your new treasure.
• Daily wear. While rings are usually made of durable substances such as metal and gemstones, you want to take care when doing certain daily activities. Wearing your rings while gardening can cause damage, because oil and other debris can scratch the metal and gemstones and get lodged in small crevices. You also will want to remove your rings when exercising to prevent your ring from getting bent or crushed by any weights or handlebars, which are usually made of stronger materials.
• Cleaning at home. Cleaning your rings on a regular basis will not only make them look their best, but also will prolong their life. Regular cleaning at home will remove oily residues left behind by hand lotion, soaps or anything your hands come into contact with. It also will prevent buildup around the prongs that, when mixed with dust and dirt, creates a fairly abrasive substance that can slowly wear away at the metal.
To make a simple cleaning solution at home, mix 1/2 teaspoon mild dish detergent with 1 cup warm water. Let your jewelry soak in the mixture for 10-15 minutes and brush lightly with a soft toothbrush. Once cleaned, you can dry your ring or other items with a soft terry-cloth towel. If you are concerned about sensitive stones (emeralds, opals, etc.), it’s always best to consult your jeweler before doing any cleaning.
• Check in with a jeweler. You will definitely want to have your jewelry inspected at least twice a year by a jewelry professional. Jewelers will use a jeweler’s loupe (a special magnifying lens) or a gemological microscope to inspect your jewelry. Most jewelry stores will do this at no cost and check to make sure all of your stones are nice and tight. They also will let you know if you have any chips or cracks (yes, stones, even diamonds, can chip or crack with wear) and advise you on necessary repairs to ensure your jewelry remains in tip-top shape. Many jewelers also will clean your ring for free.
• Insure your jewelry. Accidents do happen, so it’s always advisable to insure your more precious jewelry items. Many insurance companies offer policies for jewelry that is lost, stolen or even damaged. You will need an insurance replacement document or appraisal that outlines the details of your jewelry and provides a replacement value. Most jewelers can provide you with this documentation at the time your item is purchased, and usually at no cost. If you don’t have any documentation, seek out a jeweler that uses a credentialed appraiser.
Khatchig Jingirian is president of Smythe & Cross Fine Jewelry, 350 Main St., Los Altos. For more information, visit smytheandcross.com.