How do I care for my engagement ring?

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2009

How should I care for my ring?

Considering your engagement ring's sentimental -- and monetary -- value, you'll want to make sure it lasts a lifetime (if not several). First, insure the ring: Add a jewelry rider to your homeowner's or renter's insurance, or take out a separate policy with a specialty insurer like Jewelers Mutual. Familiarize yourself with the fine print; some policies will cover theft but not "mysterious disappearance" and others may not reimburse repair costs, says Donna Syverson, director of personal lines marketing at Jewelers Mutual.

You'll need to provide a description of the ring -- its cut, carat weight, and metal -- as appraised by a certified independent. Submitting a close-up photo of your ring is also a prudent idea. Extra precautions, such as laser inscription and home security systems, may qualify you for discounts.

To keep your ring sparkling, clean it often to remove lotions, skin oil, and everyday dirt, which cloud it. You can soak the ring in warm water and mild dishwashing liquid, and scrub with a soft toothbrush, says Tracy Lantz, associate director of public relations at the Diamond Information Center. Or, soak it in equal parts ammonia and cold water for half an hour, and let it air dry. Any brand-name jewelry cleaner is another good option.

Ring maintenance should also include twice-yearly visits to your jeweler, who can check the integrity of the prongs on your setting, says Lantz. (Bonus: You can have it professionally cleaned then, too.) A loose setting can lead to a dislodged diamond -- so if you want to avoid a frantic search on all fours, consider seeing your jeweler as often as your dentist.

It's also smart to take your ring off when doing anything requiring lots of work with your hands -- or involving water (such as dishwashing or swimming), since it can make your fingers shrink. Just remember to put the ring in a secure location (i.e., not on a ledge near the garbage disposal), whether in a kitchen drawer or a jewelry box. If you often take off your ring at home, consider an immobile safe or an unusual but memorable hiding spot. If you need to stash it when you're on vacation, store it in the hotel safe.

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