9 Ways You're Damaging Your Engagement Ring, Plus How To Keep It Sparkling Bright

Two weeks and two days. That's exactly how long it's been since my now-fiancé proposed to me and, as a result, how long I've been rocking a shiny diamond ring on my hand. Needless to say, I'm still not used to it. While there have been many moments since when I've just stopped and admired it (at the grocery store, during spin class, as I type this right now), I spend about the same amount of time living in fear of losing or damaging my engagement ring. It's a full-time gig making sure my new prized possession maintains its sparkle and also, just stays put. The diamond inside of its prongs. The little diamonds around the band. Just all of it.

I realize that as time passes, I'll grow out of this paranoia-meets-excitement state and my ring will just be another extension of my body. Still, I want to be sure that I take care of it, not just because it's the most valuable thing I own, but because it's got a lot of sentimental meaning to it. If you plan on having your engagement ring forever (which I hope you do), it's important to learn about the best ways to take care of it, as well as the mistakes you might be making that can greatly damage your bling. Here are the nine ways you might be ruining your engagement ring.

1. You Don't Clean It Regularly

Who doesn't want their ring to look as shiny and sparkly as possible? Make it a habit to have your ring cleaned regularly by a jeweler. Most jewelers will clean your ring free of charge and will steam clean it so it looks brand spanking new. If you don't have time to bring it in, consider using a safe cleaning method at home, like rinsing it with warm water and dish detergent, scrubbing it gently with a toothbrush or even soaking it in vodka or gin. Rumor has it that the latter was Elizabeth Taylor's go-to cleaning solution.

2. You Wear It While Slathering On with Lotion or Heavy Creams

Thick lotions and creams can leave residue on your ring, making it feel and look dirty. What's worse is that it can be extremely harsh and often discolor the ring, especially if you have a colored gemstone or your band is made with white gold or platinum.

3. You Clean Your Kitchen Or Bathroom With It On

Not only can you accidentally lose it down the drain or toilet, you also risk damaging your ring with the harsh chemicals you may use to clean your house like Clorox Bleach or Windex. The chemicals can react negatively with your metal or stone, leaving it dull and cloudy.

4. You Treat it Like It's Indestructible

Newsflash: Your ring is fragile. It's important to remember that if you are careless with it, you can severely damage your ring by chipping the band or setting the stones loose. In other words: Don't punch anything. Don't use your hand to hammer anything in. Don't fist-pump too aggressively. You get the picture.

5. You Don't Bring It To A Jeweler for Maintenance Appointments

Your ring may look fine, but only a jeweler can really tell whether your ring is in tip-top shape. Be sure to schedule yearly maintenance appointments with your jeweler to make sure your stones are secure and that there aren't any chips or cracks.

6. You Play Sports, Lift Weights, Or Go Swimming With It

Playing sports that require you to hold an object in your hand, like a tennis racket, a volleyball or weights, might seem innocent, but it can chip your ring or knock your stones out of place if you're not careful. In addition, swimming with your ring is not a good idea either. Cold water can shrink your fingers, making it even easier for your ring to accidentally slip off. The lesson: If you plan on playing any intense sports or swimming in the pool or ocean, take your ring off and keep it somewhere safe.

7. You Wear It When Cooking Certain Foods

Think about all of the grossness that can get stuck in your ring when you're making meatballs, rolling cookie dough, or marinating meat with your hands. That should be reason enough for you to want to take your ring off when cooking those foods.

8. You Haven't Insured It

Your ring is probably one of the most valuable pieces of jewelry you own. Do yourself a favor and have it insured. Of course you don't want to think about losing it, but having it insured will give you some peace of mind.

9. You're Jealous About Someone Else's Ring

Seeing someone else's super fab engagement ring might leave you feeling jealous or envious. That's totally fine and normal, but don't let those feelings overcome you and leave you wishing your ring was something else. Your engagement ring is so, so, so special and if you don't treat it like it is, chances are you won't take as good care of it as you would if you cherished it. Try to remember what it symbolizes and hopefully that'll get you in the right frame of mind again!

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