Ring cleaning and maintenance

Q: How can I clean my diamond engagement ring at home?

A: Diamonds are known to attract grease whether from handcreams or simply the natural oils in our skin. In either case a little grease will deaden the sparkle of a once brilliant diamond and having paid a small fortune it's worth giving it a clean once in a while.

Place your diamond ring in a teacup, add a drop of washing up liquid and pour in boiling water straight from the kettle (this temperature will do no harm to you diamonds or mount, but it will help to break down the build up of grease behind the stones). Allow to steep or draw like you would a cup of tea and then using a glove to fish the ring back out give it a brush with an old toothbrush. Repeat until your ring is sparkling like new.

This technique works well for all diamond jewellery including diamond tennis bracelets, diamond pendants and diamond earrings.

Q: Can I clean my other jewellery the same way?

A: Emeralds, opals, pearls and amber are all much softer stones than diamonds and sapphires and require a lighter touch when cleaning them. Just give them a light tooth brushing with warm soapy water and then rinse in cool water. Don't let them soak in hot water!

Q: What about cleaning the metal?

A: If you want your mount cleaned up I'm afraid there is no home solution, but it can be polished up in jig time by a professional.

Q: My ring has started to catch on clothing. Should I be concerned?

A: Typically when claws start to catch it is indicative of a problem. In an old ring either the claw has worn down and may require retipping or it has broken clean off. In this instance it may need to be reclawed. In either case it is wise to be proactive and speak with your jeweller to assess any damage when first you notice it catching. They will be able to determine whether there is a risk to your stones and come up with a plan of action.

Q: My diamond is moving in its setting, what should I do?

In new rings broken or worn claws are much less common, however it is not unusual to find that the stone has loosened in its setting as a result of something called metal memory. This does not mean that it was badly set in the first place, rather that the claws have "relaxed" or sprung back a little and you'll need your jeweller to simply tighten them again for you.

Q: How often should I have my jewellery inspected?

For items that are worn daily it probably makes sense to let a jeweller cast an eye over the settings every 6 months to a year. However, if you feel something is catching or has taken a knock then I'd recommend bringing it to your jeweller sooner.

Q: How much can I expect to pay for this service?

Most jewellers will give your jewellery a once over for free, though they may charge to put something in writing for your insurance company.

Pearl care

Q: How do I care for my pearl jewellery?

A: Pearls are best cleaned with a damp cloth and should avoid contact with perfumes, creams, lotions and hair products as they are particularly sensitive to chemicals and will lose their lustre if exposed. If at all possible take your pearl jewellery off before getting in the pool, the shower, or the sea. Last on, first off is a good rule of thumb.

Q: Can I wear my pearl ring every day?

You can but it won't thank you for it. Pearl rings are not really for every day wear because our hands are exposed to so much activity between the constant washing and the unnoticed knocks. If you choose to wear it every day it will lose its lustre faster than if you keep it for dress wear, however, if you're willing to accept this fact, you could always plan to replace it with a new pearl in future!

Q: What about wearing pearl earrings and pendants everyday?

Both earrings and pendants can be worn every day because they're not subject to the same level of wear as on the hand. Try not to wear pearl earrings in the shower because the warm water is likely to soften the glue and cause the pearl to detach from the stem. If that happens it's not the end of the world as they can be reattached, but you may have trouble finding the renegade pearl.

Pearl pendants should wear well,  just remember to avoid hitting them with perfumes as this will damage the pearl's lustre.

Q: How do I clean my pearl necklace?

If a damp cloth isn't doing the trick you can rinse your pearl strand in warm water, but it should be dried flat in order to minimise string stretching. I'd recommend storing your pearls flat when you are not wearing them for greatest longevity.

Silver care

Q: My silver jewellery has blackened. What can I do?

A: Sterling silver will oxidise to a black colour if exposed to the air for long periods. So why not the silver ring I wear every day? Well when we wear jewellery it tends to rub against everything and is essentially being buffed as we go, however when it's sitting in a jewellery box or on the nightstand the air simply gets at it. The good news is this is just a surface patination and can be easily removed using a silver polishing cloth or a product called silver dip. If neither option are giving you the results you're after then contact you jeweller and they will be able to give it a buff on the polishing motor.

Gemstone care

Q: My stone is scratched what can I do?

A: Diamond is by far the hardest gemstone which is one of the reasons it is so popular for engagement rings. All the other stones including sapphires and rubies are less hard by a factor of at least a hundred and as a result will get scratched during the course of wear. For the likes of sapphire this may take 30 years to become evident, but with other stones like quartz and topaz every day wear will start to tell much sooner.

It is possible to repolish a gemstone, but this involves removing the stone from its mount and sending it to a specialist called a lapidary who can reestablish the polish and repair any damage to the facets. This process costs about €250 and when feasible may not be worth the expense. For less costly gemstones, replacing the stone may be an option if the setting allows, though by far the best route is prevention.

By choosing a design and stone that suits your lifestyle or choosing to showcase softer stones in pendants and earrings you can limit the amount of damage possible. Also you can try keeping softer stones for dress rings and occasional wear. Failing that you could just live with it and enjoy your jewellery warts and all!