There are few things more mesmerizing than watching your engagement ring sparkle and dance in the light, so it’s only natural to want to maintain that bling by giving your ring regular cleanings.

But the only thing worse than a ring that’s lost its luster, is a ring that’s damaged due to improper care. So before you get too wrapped up in wacky cleaning hacks and old wives’ tales, we tapped Mark Mann, the director of Global Jewelry Manufacturing Arts at the GIA for his professional advice on how to clean your jewelry safely and what to avoid at all costs.

Your engagement ring isn’t just a symbol of your union. It’s also an heirloom in the making, a precious piece of jewelry that can be passed down through generations — if you take proper care of it.

Of course, you know never to open boxes or try to pop bottle tops with your ring (trust us, people do try!), but there are a few unexpected everyday activities that can put your ring in harm’s way. We contacted a few experts — Debra Dolphin, gemologist at Blue Nile, and Elizabeth Woolf-Willis, marketing associate at Simon G — for their best advice on what to do, and what to avoid, to keep your ring lovely for a lifetime.

Don’t wear it during vigorous sports

“Our experts recommend regular checks by an experienced jeweler every six to 12 months to make sure the settings are secure.”

Any activity that involves impact to your hands (from volleyball to boxing to weightlifting, rock climbing, and even gardening) can bend or break the prongs that hold your stone in place, causing it to fall out of its setting, say our experts. Similarly, they warn against wearing it during water activities such as swimming, water skiing, or boating, as it’s far easier for your ring to slip off when your hands are wet. “I’ve heard so many stories about rings getting lost in lakes and oceans!” says Woolf-Willis.

Don’t wear it while cleaning

According to Dolphin, ordinary cleaning materials won’t damage your diamond (delicate pearls are another matter). “During the cutting process, the stones are cleaned by boiling them in acid. This makes them impervious to chemicals,” she says. However, household cleaners such as bleach and common chemicals, such as acetone nail polish remover and chlorine from pools and hot tubs can also erode alloys in precious metals.

Don’t leave it unchecked

Even if you don’t wear your ring while exercising, normal daily activity — fabric snags, say — can loosen prongs, putting your stone in danger of falling out. Our experts recommend regular checks by an experienced jeweler every six to 12 months to make sure the settings are secure.

You can get your rings professionally cleaned at the same time. However, if you’d like to clean your ring yourself, our experts recommend using mild soap, warm water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush or a solution of five parts water, one part ammonia (for diamonds). And keep in mind, says Woolf-Willis, never use silver cleaner on anything that’s not silver.

Cleanliness

  • To keep your stones their cleanest and brightest, remove your ring when taking a shower, washing your hands, and doing the dishes to avoid soap scum and mineral deposits on the stone itself, which prevent optimal light return.
  • You can also purchase a small ultrasonic cleaner and drop it in there once a week or so, or purchase our fine jewelry cleaner that comes with a brush and submersion tray.
  • You may also take a soft toothbrush and dish soap and scrub around the stones in extra warm water. Enjoy a sparkling stone all the time!
  • Always remove your ring when applying lotion!