For many of us, a diamond engagement ring is the first real (and likely most expensive) piece of fine jewelry we'll own, let alone wear daily. After the post-proposal glow settles, you may start to realize you don't know how to keep your ring safe and looking its best.
Beyond regular cleanings, taking off your engagement ring when going about certain daily tasks is part of proper diamond ring care. Perhaps you've wondered: Can I wear it in the shower? What about while I'm sleeping?
We're glad you asked! We know there's nothing you want more than to wear your engagement ring with pride every hour of every day, but for your ring's sake, don't. Here's a list of 10 times when you're better off taking your ring off and playing it safe.
There are many reasons why you might want to retire your ring to your bedside table at night. For one thing, while you're catching ZZZs, your ring can get caught in your hair or bedding, loosening the setting. Certain sleep positions can put pressure and body weight on your ring, which can also work to slowly reshape the setting or loosen the stones.
It may be an especially good idea to temporarily part with your sparkle while sleeping if your ring consists of stones that are on the softer side of the Mohs scale (making them more fragile), or if you experience discomfort from nighttime swelling and the resulting ring tightness.
2. Working Out & Playing Sports
If your ring is vulnerable while sleeping, then you definitely shouldn't wear it while playing contact sports (or sports like tennis, baseball, or golf), or while doing exercises that involve handling or lifting weights—especially if it's made with more delicate, micro pavé stones. Free weights can scratch, chip, or loosen stones, and your finger can get pinched! And, as we've noted before in our Jewelry Care Guide, sweat may react with metal and cause an allergic reaction.
If it's a cardio day and you're jamming to your favorite playlist on the treadmill or sweating it out in a spin class and you have no known allergies to certain alloys, it's probably safe to keep your ring on. Let it serve as a nice distraction to make time fly and get you to that finish line. Otherwise, keep it safe at home and reunite with it as a reward after your shower.
3. Showering & Washing Your Hands
You're not the only one to wonder, "can I shower with my engagement ring?" And we're here to put the matter to rest once and for all with a big no, please, don't. It's just not worth the risk and the wear. Slippery skin means that your ring can suddenly conduct a dark, down-the-drain disappearing act, and soaps and exfoliating washes can dull and damage your diamond.
The same goes with washing your hands (and washing dishes), but don't get in the habit of removing your ring when in public bathrooms. You may not think you could ever leave without it, but it's possible and again just not worth the gamble. Only remove it when washing at home.
We've heard one too many horror stories of diamond rings getting lost in the ocean to ever say it's okay to wear it while enjoying a day at the beach. Swimming (in cold water especially) can cause your body temperature to drop and actually make your finger size shrink, meaning it'll be way easier for your ring to wiggle its way off. Salt water is also a ring foe and can create a film.
The pool is also a no-go. Chlorine and other chemicals in pools will erode certain ring materials and metal alloys. For example, with white gold wedding rings, the rhodium will degrade in chlorine and turn it yellow.
Whether going to the beach or pool, just make sure you put your ring away at home first. Don't make the mistake of setting it by a towel or in a beach bag. If you forgot to leave your ring at home, it's best to keep it on to avoid loss or theft and just try to remember for next time.
5. During Pregnancy
Natural fluctuations in weight and swelling can affect how well your ring fits, but this doesn't mean you should go and immediately get it resized. If you're pregnant and your ring starts to become too snug for comfort, we recommend wearing it as a necklace — or figuring some other alternative you'll be happy with—until your body finds its new normal. Many choose to just wear a wedding band.
6. Cleaning & Yard Work
It's highly recommended that you wear rubber gloves while handling cleaning products to protect your hands, so you definitely need to keep your ring safe from the abrasive, harsh chemicals found in common household cleaning agents. Bleach, for example, oxidizes metals. A mantra to remember: what makes your bathroom mirror shiny makes your diamond ring dull. The same goes for gardening, which requires a lot of activities that can put your ring in harm's (or dirt's) way.
7. Applying Lotions & Other Beauty Products
One of the biggest culprits of diamond ring dullness is build-up caused by lotions, moisturizers, sunscreen, oils and other emollient beauty products. Make it part of your beauty routine to safely store your ring when applying moisturizing and other beauty products. Don't put it back on until after you're done doing your hair. Otherwise it can easily snag, which besides simply not feeling good, can work to loosen the setting.
8. Cooking and Preparing Food
This probably goes without saying, but it can be easy to forget: remove your ring before handling any kind of raw or ground meat. The last thing you want is for your brilliant symbol of eternal love to become bacteria-ridden. Sanitation is the new sparkle when it comes to your ring and working in the kitchen.
9. Working with Tools or Equipment
We're going to keep this one short because it's pretty horrifying, but we'll leave you with this: google "degloving" and "ring avulsion" and view the graphics with caution. It's not a pretty topic, but it's an important hazard to be aware of. Don't say we didn't warn you!
10. Painting & Other Projects
As a general rule, home renovation projects are one of those "when not to wear your engagement ring" moments. The last thing you want is to give your ring an accidental makeover with specks of paint, or get it caught between a hammer and a hard place.
Quick Care & Storage Tips
Where are you supposed to keep your precious ring when you're not wearing it? Any safe place, really. The most important thing is that you pick a spot for safe keeping and only ever leave it in that spot. And know that it's impossible to keep your treasure looking new without regular ring maintenance, no matter how much you take it off. Buildup blocks light interactions with the stone, so keep it at peak brilliance with a gentle (and safe!) cleaning routine every few weeks.
Ultimately, these are guidelines to help keep your ring as brilliant as when you first put it on. If and when you decide to take it off comes down to your own personal preference and comfort.