Like all jewellery, old and new, a vintage engagement ring needs to be cared for to keep it looking its best. Diamonds might be one of the hardest materials on the planet, but gold and platinum are relatively soft by comparison, and even seemingly invincible diamonds can chip if they are struck hard enough.
We want your ring to stay in great condition for years to come, which requires a little maintenance on your part. Follow the rules in our seven-step guide to looking after your vintage engagement ring if you want it to stay looking beautiful for many years to come.
If in doubt, take your vintage ring off
You probably know people who never take their engagement ring off. If you live in fear of losing yours, that’s understandable, but it is definitely not the way to keep your ring in tiptop condition.
We recommend removing it when you’re washing up, showering or taking a bath – not only is it much more likely to slip off, the oils in your products can smother the sparkle of a gem – and also during your beauty regime. Moisturiser also plays havoc with a stone’s scintillation and can quickly find a home in the intricate setting of a ring.
Never wear a ring when taking part in vigorous sports or doing manual labour. Both can leave you open to warping the band of your ring, damaging a gem or weakening the prongs that hold it in place. And never, ever wear a ring swimming. You have probably heard a cautionary tale or two about why this is unwise – fingers shrink when they’re submerged in cold water – and the chlorine in a swimming pool can cause gold and platinum to discolour. Retrieving a ring from the bottom of a pool is relatively easy; if your ring slips off in the sea it is likely to be lost forever.
Keep your ring away from chemicals
This tip sounds pretty obvious, but harsh chemicals can alter the colour of, or cause damage to, a ring setting, and even a gem itself. Bleach, chlorine and acetone are common ingredients in many household cleaners and should be avoided at all costs, but to be on the safe side, keep your ring out of contact with any cleaning products. We also recommend removing your ring before you head for a manicure – there are lots of potent chemicals in both acrylic and gel nail polishes.
Clean your vintage ring regularly
Giving your ring a bath in warm water mixed with a little washing-up liquid for half an hour before brushing it gently with a soft toothbrush will get rid of any buildup of grime. Ideally, you should do this once a week, but don’t fret if you can only manage once a fortnight. If even that sounds like hard work, you can buy mini wipes that look a lot like the lemon-scented wipes that are handed out on planes and are an easy way to restore the sheen of your ring. This quick-fix solution is great if you are short on time, but don’t rely on this method entirely. Using warm water and a toothbrush is much more thorough, particularly if your ring has an intricate setting.
Handle with care
All jewellery should be handled carefully, but vintage rings in particular are often more delicate than modern designs, so it is advisable to treat them with special care. Dropping a vintage ring on a hard floor is definitely not advisable so be sure to be gentle when showing it to your friends. Avoid picking your ring up by the stone and getting into the habit of fiddling with it, which will both, over time, weaken the setting.
Take your vintage ring for a bi-annual check-up
It is tempting to overlook this piece of advice because it requires you to remember to take your ring to a jeweller. Please don’t! It is essential that your ring is regularly inspected by an expert who can examine the prongs for damage, ensure the stones are still being held firmly in place, check the overall integrity of the ring and also give it a professional steam clean. Vintage jewellery is particularly prone to everyday wear and tear, and getting your ring inspected every six months means that if any damage has been done, however small, it can be repaired.
Invest in insurance
It is always heartbreaking to lose a piece of jewellery, but especially so if it isn’t insured. People mistakenly think that because an engagement ring is being worn almost all of the time, it won’t go missing. A quick Google of ‘help I lost my engagement ring’ will quickly change your opinion! Adding your ring to your house insurance policy is usually the quickest and easiest way to insure it, but if that’s not possible, we recommend taking out a separate policy. Whilst the value of your engagement ring far exceeds its financial worth, having it insured means you are covered should the worst-case scenario occur.
An obvious one, perhaps, but you know your ring better than anyone and are best placed to spot if anything looks loose, bent or just not quite right. If it does, take it to a jeweller immediately.