While diamonds are forever, the truth is that no diamond remains brilliant and shiny without regular cleaning and proper care. So, if you've noticed that your stones have become dull, read on for guidelines on how to keep your diamonds clean and sparkling for many years to come.
How Long Do Diamonds Last?
We know that diamonds take billions of years to form as well as to break down, so you can expect your diamond to last many, many lifetimes, which is why they can be passed down in families for sentimental purposes.
With this in mind, you can expect your necklace or diamond engagement ring to remain nearly flawless for decades. Still, that doesn't mean your gemstone will look as perfect as the day you bought it. A handful of environmental factors can influence your diamond's sparkle and its purity.
Can a Diamond Become Scratched?
Part of the reason why diamonds are so popular in engagement rings and other jewelry is that they are very resistant to damage. In daily life, it's unlikely your diamond will become scratched, even if you never take off your diamond engagement ring.
However, one significant scratch risk to your diamond is other diamonds. Because the gemstone is so hard, it can scratch other diamonds and cause visible markings. If your ring has more than one diamond or you store your jewelry improperly, scratches can occur.
Storing your jewelry properly — separately in soft pouches or padded cases — helps protect against scratches and contaminants.
Why Do Diamonds Lose Their Sparkle?
Diamonds can sustain damage, but it's more common for them to lose their luster. Diamonds might lose their sparkle over the course of time depending on a handful of factors.
Even if your diamond is of exceptional cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, environmental conditions can wreak havoc. If you handle the diamond often, the oils on your hands can cloud the gem's surface. Skin oils also attract dirt and other environmental dust, making the stone appear even duller.
Plus, skincare products, makeup, and household products can all lodge in the crevices of your jewelry's setting. The result is a piece of jewelry that looks entirely grimy, from the setting to the stone itself.
Careful cleaning is necessary to restore your diamond's brilliance.
What Else Can Damage a Diamond?
With daily wear and regular cleaning, your diamond is likely to last your entire lifetime (and even longer). But there are other conditions that can damage a diamond due to the chemical makeup of the gemstone.
Heat Can Damage a Diamond
Once diamonds are out of the high-pressure environment in which they formed, heat becomes a danger. If your diamond experiences extreme heat, such as while a miner or jeweler is cutting or shaping it, it can break.
While you're wearing your diamond jewelry, such high heat isn't a concern. In fact, it takes temperatures of over 1,290 degrees Fahrenheit to cause a diamond to burn into graphite.
As long as you only use the services of trusted jewelers for shaping or resetting your diamond, heat damage shouldn't be a concern. So, though your diamond jewelry is unlikely to encounter such extreme conditions, it's worth noting that diamonds aren't totally indestructible.
Abrasive Cleaners and Chemicals May Cause Chips
Though diamonds are supremely scratch-resistant, some cleaning solutions pose a hazard.
Depending on your diamond, its setting, and the surrounding metals and stones, using a certain type of cleaner could cause chips or other damage.
Ultrasonic cleaners, especially, can create movement that is harmful to delicate diamond rings and other jewelry. Overall, cleaning your diamond requires special steps, solutions, and careful handling to prevent breakage or chipping.
How Can I Protect My Diamond from Damage?
Your engagement ring is such a symbolic and sentimental item, protecting it will be a top concern. Here are some tips to help you care for your diamond ring.
Remove Your Diamonds for Safekeeping
Though most women prefer to wear their engagement rings every day, there are certain occasions when you should remove your ring. Similarly, other diamond jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, should also stay somewhere safe when you do things like:
- Exercise heavily
- Wash dishes
- Shower or bathe
- Work around machinery
- Use power tools
- Bake, such as kneading dough
- Put makeup on
Diamonds may be tough, but avoiding knocking them against hard surfaces (or dropping them) can go a long way toward keeping your gems sparkling. Plus, putting your jewelry away safely while you bake, apply cosmetics, or garden helps keep debris from building up in and around the setting.
Don't Trust Diamond-Cleaning “Hacks”
Though there are plenty of diamond-cleaning hacks online, you shouldn't trust everything you read. Some “tips” might appear to work, but they can cause your diamonds to wear faster and lose their sheen.
Improper cleaning may also void any warranty that exists on your diamond jewelry. Or, if you opt for insuring your jewelry collection, issues due to abrasive cleaning methods might not fall under the coverage plan.
While we'll cover how to properly clean your diamonds here, it's also worth discussing what not to do when it comes to jewelry care.
Don't Use Ultrasonic Machines
An ultrasonic cleaner may seem like a gentle way to cleanse your jewelry. But when it comes to diamonds, the vibration of the unit might cause gems to shake loose from their settings. If you're cleaning multiple jewelry pieces, the diamonds can also scratch one another.
If your diamond has previously received treatment for a crack, it's best to avoid ultrasonic cleansing. Depending on the type of diamond and the setting, ultrasonic machines can also cause stones to loosen or even fall out.
Don't Use Abrasive Materials or Cleaners
You might feel tempted to scrub roughly to remove grime from your diamond. While an abrasive brush, cloth, or cleaner won't necessarily scratch your diamond, it can cause other problems.
Rough cleaners can rub away intricate patterns on your ring's band or even create chips in the material. Though the diamond may survive, you could be looking at high costs to repair the band, setting, and more.
Skip Household Cleaners for Diamond Care
Diamond retailers like Blue Nile only recommend approved jewelry care products for cleansing. While mild soap and water is often a safe alternative, you shouldn't skip jewelry cleaner in favor of household cleaning products.
Window cleaner, toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, ammonia, vinegar, or other products can damage your ring's finish. These ingredients can also cause buildup rather than removing grime, and some are unsafe for skin, too.
Schedule Regular Cleanings and Inspections
Keeping your diamonds away from extreme heat, sun, and other diamonds is one way to protect them from scratches and breakage. But another smart step is scheduling regular cleaning and diamond care.
We recommend having your diamond ring cleaned and inspected every six months or if it undergoes any potential trauma. Inspections may help prevent the loss of a stone and extend the life of your jewelry.
We offer a free cleaning and inspection service to Blue Nile customers on their Blue Nile diamond rings. Repairs to your ring mounting can also be done at this time at cost.
How to Keep Your Diamonds Clean and Sparkling
Learning how to clean a diamond ring (plus other jewelry pieces) can help preserve the value and brilliance of your collection. But beyond washing up your gemstones, you should also take precautions when handling and storing your diamonds.
Aim for Minimal Handling of Your Jewelry
The more you handle your gems, the dirtier they'll become. Of course, you must touch your earrings to put them on, and your engagement ring will travel with you throughout the day. But by keeping touch to a minimum, you can help reduce the need for cleanings.
It might be tempting to touch the surface of the diamond in your ring, necklace, or earrings. But reducing unnecessary touching helps preserve the stones' brilliance.
Treat All Diamonds as Fragile
When you do touch your jewelry while putting on or removing it, handle the pieces gently. Though your diamonds can withstand a range of rough conditions, the gentler you are, the longer they'll remain sparkling and clean.
Especially for rings or other pieces with fragile settings, this step is especially important. Over-handling or improper storage can mean bent prongs or dented settings. Always touch your jewelry gently, using a lint-free cloth when possible, and store the collection carefully.
Be Cautious with Jewelry Storage
Storing your diamonds is just as important as careful handling. As noted, storing diamond jewelry in a bag or box can lead to scratches as the gemstones rub against one another. Diamonds can also scratch soft metals such as gold.
To avoid scratches and other problems, store each piece of your collection separately in a cloth bag or padded box. Lint-free materials are ideal for keeping your diamonds shining even while in storage.
Protection against dust, heat, and environmental contaminants is also ideal for preserving your diamonds' quality and beauty.
Use Specialized (and Gentle) Cleaning Solutions
Rather than use household chemicals to hack your way to a cleaner diamond, choose safe cleansers that will protect your investment. Though you won't need to use diamond cleaners daily or even weekly, occasional cleansing is ideal for restoring shine to your gems.
Jeweler-approved jewelry cleaning solutions are non-toxic, gentle for diamonds and other gems, and won't degrade your collection's value. By applying a gentle cleanser with a professional polishing cloth or another soft material, you can help restore your jewelry's shine and luster.
Apply Cleansing Products Carefully
Unlike your kitchenware, diamonds don't require intense scrubbing. With most jewelry cleansers, careful application and a long soak are all that's necessary. For tough grime, using a soft cloth to rub the diamond or its setting can help.
A new, soft toothbrush can help with particularly set-in oils and dirt on and around your diamond. You can also use a toothbrush for regular cleaning, as long as you scrub gently.
Try a Gentle Soap for Regular Cleaning
If your diamond jewelry seems to attract dirt daily, more frequent cleaning can help prevent buildup. Water with a tiny bit of mild dish soap can prove an effective cleaning strategy for mild oil and dirt removal.
Of course, whenever you clean your jewelry around a water source, be sure to close the drain before beginning. Using a small dish or container is also a good idea for soaking and washing your diamonds.
How Can You Tell a Diamond Needs Cleaning
It can be challenging to tell whether a diamond is dirty. If you wear the gem every day, you may not notice it becoming duller or less reflective.
In general, however, a lack of brilliance is the easiest way to tell your diamond needs a thorough cleaning.
Looking at the setting, including gold or other metals, can also indicate whether it's time for a cleaning. Gold can attract dirt the same way that diamonds do, especially when handled often or worn on your finger or around your neck.
Keep Your Diamond Clean and Beautiful for a Lifetime
Keeping your diamond gorgeous and sparkling for a lifetime is easier than you might think. Especially with the right diamond and metal-safe products, you can ensure that your jewelry collection remains brilliant and reflective.
It's also worth checking whether your jewelry comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can rest assured that it will be in excellent condition for generations to come.
No matter how many years or decades your diamonds are in the family, with proper care, you can keep them looking brand-new and beautiful.