Sunday, March 3, 2024

How to Care for Diamond Rings, According to an Expert

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Lab-grown or ethically mined, we’ve got the secret to keeping your diamond ring sparkly.

Treasured jewelry pieces like engagement rings and wedding bands are often worn every day. But just because diamonds are durable doesn’t mean that they’re immune to dirt and grime. The build-up of oil or dust can cause your rings to lose their luster. Fret not — we chatted with Kristy Cullinane, co-founder of premium lab-grown diamond brand Plum Diamonds, for tips on how to bring dull diamond rings back to life.

Mined or lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are seeing explosive interest. CNN recently dubbed 2023 “the year of the lab-grown diamond,” and jewelers like Plum, Oscar Massin, and Jean Dousset are helping make the case for ethically produced diamonds. They’re identical to mined diamonds in color, cut, clarity, and carat (the 4 Cs). But with lab diamonds, there’s no mining, no environmental destruction, and no labor issues.

That said, there are efforts underway to make the mined diamond industry more ethical. One effort, the Belgian HB Antwerp, is working with a Botswana-based mining operation on complete traceability that not only gives the consumer peace of mind but also helps to bring more provenance and empowerment to the miners themselves.

And whether you’re wearing a mined or lab diamond, the best care practices are the same.

Maintaining that sparkle

What’s Cullinane’s secret to a shiny gem-studded ring? To maintain their sparkle and longevity, she says, all a diamond ring needs is a little TLC.

After spending seven years in the jewelry industry, Cullinane was inspired to launch her own brand in order to create made-to-order sustainable and ethical alternatives to conventional mined diamonds.

Founded in 2022, Plum Diamonds carefully selects its diamond growing partners and crafts its settings—which are made from 100 percent recycled gold and recycled, responsibly mined, or responsibly sourced platinum — in certified sustainable manufacturing facilities. 

“We are always exploring new partners who demonstrate exceptional commitment to sustainability,” Cullinane explains. “For example, we’ve just signed on with a positive-impact B Corp grower and will offer their diamonds online next year.” 

What sets a lab-grown diamond apart from its mined counterpart? There are aesthetic advantages: higher carat weights, better quality, and reasonable price points. After all, Cullinane quips: “Who doesn’t want a bigger, brighter, more sparkly rock!?”

lab-grown diamond ring
Plum Diamonds’ co-founder shares her best ring care tips. | Courtesy Plum Diamonds

Compared to conventional mined diamonds — which carry a host of environmental and social implications, including soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, wildlife displacement, and even child labor — lab-grown diamonds are also better for the planet.

“I believe the biggest advantage of lab-grown diamonds is that couples can get the exact ring that they want and feel really good about it,” Cullinane adds. “They’ll never feel guilty about potentially owning a ‘conflict diamond,’ and their choice will align with their own personal values and priorities.” 

How to care for your diamond ring

So, how do you keep your prized jewels sparkling year-round? Here are Cullinane’s tips for the best diamond ring care.

1. Clean your ring regularly 

Oils from soap, lotion, and even your hands can cause your stones to lose their shine. To clean away the gunk, Cullinane recommends using mild dish soap and warm water once a week to every other week to cut through the oily residue buildup.

Plum Diamonds rings
Gently clean your rings using warm, soapy water. | Courtesy Plum Diamonds

“To clean your ring, simply start with a bowl of warm water. Add a bit of dish soap and soak the ring in the bowl for a few minutes,” she explains. “Using a soft toothbrush, gently scrub away grime, particularly around prongs and under diamonds where buildup is likely. Then rinse and pat dry.” 

2. Know when to take your ring off 

We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that taking off your engagement ring is bad luck. All myths aside, Cullinane says you should remove your ring when partaking in activities that could cause it damage, such as when exercising, cleaning, showering, and gardening. 

Swimming with jewelry on is also not recommended as chlorine can eat away at metals that are alloyed with gold, causing the bands to become weak and brittle. “Essentially, remove your ring for any activities that might be tough on your hands or could catch on your ring,” she says. Yes, this includes while you’re sleeping as stones can get tangled in hair or caught in the bed sheets, causing them to come loose.

3. Get your ring inspected annually

Last but not least: don’t forget to get your ring checked by the professionals! Cullinane says it’s best to get your jewelry inspected annually to check for loose and broken prongs, the small pieces of metal that hold your center stone in place.

“Diamonds can be easily knocked loose from their settings during everyday bumps and scrapes, and an annual check will prevent lost stones,” she explains. “Also, keep in mind that while diamonds may be among the hardest substances on earth, their edges can still chip when hit with force—so be gentle!”

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