- By Julia Littlewood
- Published 03/14/2012
There’s no denying the dazzling beauty of well cut diamonds, and while the genuine article may be the hardest substance on earth, they are not indestructible. Diamonds can only be cut or polished by another diamond, but a hard blow can cause them to chip.
For this reason, never wear your diamond jewellery when doing rough work. And another tip – don’t leave your diamond ring on the rim of a sink when you remove it to wash your hands or do the dishes, as all too many people have unfortunately had it slip down the drain!
The following guide will explain how to care for your diamond jewellery so that it remains as gorgeous as they first day you bought it.
How to Keep Your Diamonds Clean
Diamonds need regular cleaning if you want to keep them in tip top condition. Here are some tried and tested tips to ensure they always retain their gleam:
Everyday Wear and Tear
As mentioned above and especially when it comes to diamond rings, don’t wear your jewellery when you’re doing rough work because any hard blow can cause chips. In addition, never let your diamond come into contact with a chlorine bleach when you’re doing household cleaning as this can cause damage and discoloration of the mounting. Speaking of the mounting – it’s a good idea to have your local jeweller inspect all your adornments that have precious or semi-precious stones for loose prongs and wear of mountings once a year. They can also give them a professional “shine-up” at the same time.
Residue Build Up
Everyday exposure to creams, hairspray, household chemicals, skin oils and other substances can cause residual build up that will dull your diamond’s brilliant appearance. To tackle this, soak your jewellery in a solution of warm water mixed with a few drop of ammonia. For extensive cleaning, gentle scrub the gemstones with a soft-bristled toothbrush, then rinse them in water and dry them thoroughly using a clean soft cloth. Finally, as a general rule of thumb, handle your diamonds sparingly, since the natural oil on your fingers will dull their sparkle.
Diamonds should be cleaned on a regular basis if you want them to really dazzle the eye. The simplest method is to soak your diamonds once or twice weekly in an ammonia-based household liquid such as window cleaner overnight. In the morning, remove the diamonds from the solution and brush them with a soft, clean toothbrush to remove any leftover dirt.
Do take extra care to thoroughly brush the back of each diamond, as this will be the area that has collected the most dirt and oil. Also be aware that fragile settings and estate jewellery (previously owned or with a long history) won’t take kindly to being enthusiastically scrubbed with a toothbrush, so ensure you do this gently.
In addition, never use harmful or abrasive solutions for cleaning diamonds – chlorine for example should never be used, especially for diamonds set in jewellery. This is because abrasives and these types of chemicals tend to erode some of the metals often used in diamond settings – they can loosen the prongs or even dissolve the metal.
Sometimes an ultrasonic cleaner, used by many professional jewellers, is necessary to remove encrusted dirt on diamonds. This method works by sending high frequency sound waves through a detergent solution which then causes bobbles or vibrating fluid to cling to foreign particles such as dirt and oil, effectively cleaning them. Be aware however that this tactic can shake gemstones loose from their mounting, so it shouldn’t be used on fragile settings. In fact, ultrasonic cleaning is best undertaken by a professional jeweller.
Once you’re done with cleaning your diamonds, rinse them thoroughly with water and give them a wipe down with a soft, lint-free cloth.
It’s important to regularly inspect your diamond jewellery to make sure that their settings are secure and no damage has occurred.
Secondly, never store your diamond jewellery next to other hard materials or scramble different items together since this can cause accidental chips and scratches.
When you’re not wearing your diamonds, and the same applies to other precious jewellery, you ideally want to store them in a fabric-lined jewellery box, or a case with separate compartments. Another tip if you don’t have these storage items is to individually wrap your jewellery in material pouches or even soft tissue paper.
Diamonds are both precious and pricey – it’s important to give them the right care and cleaning so that they never get scratched or lose their sparkle. Giving your diamond jewellery a regular rinse in ammonia-based water and a gentle scrub will in most cases do the job, but if you’re unsure, and especially with very expensive items or those that have delicate settings, you can always take them down to your local jeweller for a professional clean.
About the Author: Julia Littlewood is a stylist and diamond jewellery designer.