How to Clean a Diamond Ring

You paid more for the clarity, you paid for its lack of flaws, for its brilliance, and for its ability to reflect light. Why would you let the extra money you invested in buying a high-quality diamond ring go to waste by not cleaning it?

Whether your diamond is lab-created or not, a piece of dirt or grime from the atmosphere can do more to detract from its radiance than even the most obvious inclusions. Pollution and harsh chemicals can cause even Type II a colorless lab-created ring to take on a tint of color. Why bother paying for a top- quality ring if you don’t get a top-quality shine?

Maybe you’re simply averse to cleaning in general (most of us are), but the truth is, diamonds don’t clean themselves, and if you want your rock to keep rocking, you’ll want to investigate the different cleaning options. In this article, we will discuss:

  • Professional Diamond Cleaning
  • Buying an Ultrasonic Diamond Cleaner
  • Buying a Steam Cleaner For a Diamond
  • Buying a Combination Ultrasonic and Steam Cleaner
  • Home Cleaning Solutions
  • Jewelry Cleaning Kits
  • Dazzle Sticks
  • How to Clean a Lab-Created Diamond
  • What Not to Do When Cleaning Your Lab-Created Diamond

Professional Diamond Cleaning

These days, we prefer to do everything without leaving the house, and as far as we know, there is no way to get your diamond professionally cleaned without leaving your house, unless you have a traveling jeweler. However, if leaving the house and the possibility of a small fee is acceptable, professional cleaning is the most thorough and safest way to have your diamond cleaned.

Most of the time the jeweler who sold you your diamond will do cleanings for free. Otherwise, although pricing can vary depending on carat size, cut, and ring shape, the price for a diamond ring cleaning comes in somewhere around $20. Here’s a little bit about what you can expect from a professional diamond cleaning.

  1. Overall inspection: A good jeweler will always start his cleaning process with an overall examination of the diamond. Using a microscope, the jeweler will inspect the ring closely for any bent prongs or loose stones.

You can test for loose stones at home using your finger, but the jeweler has the advantage of tiny instruments that are specifically designed to test jewelry. These can be used to prod smaller surrounding stones, whose instability may be harder to detect with the finger test.  He also has the benefit of a microscope, proper lighting, and the expertise to find imperfections that may not be so easily seen by a layman.

        2. Polish: The most frequently heard comment from a satisfied ring cleaning customer is, “My diamond looks like new.” That’s because after inspecting the stone, a jeweler will polish to the stone to remove small scratches. This goes a long way in improving the stone’s surface appearance to recreate that, “new diamond,” experience.

        3. Ultrasonic Cleaning

There are two options for machine cleaning a diamond ring. One is the ultrasonic, and the other is steam cleaning.   One of the benefits of having your jewelry cleaned professionally is that your jeweler will probably have both options, so he can give your ring the old one-two punch.

The first punch is the ultrasonic which does the actual diamond cleaning. Ultrasonic cleaning involves the use of sound to agitate a fluid. In the case of a ring cleaning, this fluid is high-temperature water mixed with cleaning solvent. Ultrasonic cleaning stimulates the liquid to break up the particles of dirt behind the diamond that other cleaning methods miss.

      4. Steam Cleaning:   Steam cleaning is the second punch. Steam cleaning uses high-pressure steam to remove dirt and buildup. After the ultrasonic, a professional jeweler will blast a diamond ring with a good steam bath to blast away any dirt that is still remaining.

      5. Final Exam

After the ultrasonic and steam, there is a chance that some hidden debris or dirt particles have been unearthed. A jeweler does a final exam under the microscope to make sure the diamond customer gets satisfaction guaranteed.

Buying an Ultrasonic Diamond Cleaner

Another option for cleaning your diamond without leaving your house is by bringing the jewelry store to your house, or at least part of it. These days, you can buy your own ultrasonic cleaner starting at about $25. With this, you are able to DIY your diamond cleaning, professional style, from the comfort of your own home.

When you think of diamond cleaning, sound may not be the first thing that pops into your mind, yet that’s exactly how the ultrasonic works. While the ultrasonic doesn’t actually shout the dirt off your jewelry, it creates high-frequency sound waves to generate bubbles and vibrations in the water. These vibrations loosen the dirt and grime attached to your jewelry. From a practical point of view, it’s fair to say the ultrasonic as a, “sound,” investment.

It’s quick and easy to use; it only takes a few minutes to complete the process. It provides for a complete clean that even removes dirt from the hard to reach places. You can also put several items in at a time.

However, there are some drawbacks to the ultrasonic. Gems with inclusions and flaws are at great risk of breaking during the ultrasonic process. If your diamond has a low clarity grade, the ultrasonic can cause internal damage. Fracture-filled diamonds can crack in the ultrasonic. If your diamond is especially delicate, it would be a better idea to a professional jeweler or clean it with a toothbrush using hot soapy water.

Buying a Steam Cleaner for a Diamond

If the ultrasonic is a bit too risky for your precious investment, steam cleaning is one the safest methods of jewelry cleaning because it doesn’t use chemicals and harsh detergents that can damage your diamond. Steam uses a plain old-fashioned blast of water vapor to get dirt and grime off jewelry. It’s a fast process and deeply penetrates to get dirt behind impacted stones. It’s also safe for the environment.

While the steamer is more eco-friendly than the ultrasonic, it is less budget friendly. Steamers start at about $200 for something decent. Check jewelry for loose gemstones before you blast. Steamers can dislodge stones with a vengeance.

Buying a Combination Ultrasonic and Steam Cleaner

Whether you can’t decide between the ultrasonic or the steam cleaner, or you want the most professional clean for your jewelry, there is a third option. An ultrasonic and steam cleaner combination is a machine that has a top loader for the ultrasonic bath and a faucet on the front for the steam cleaning portion.

Let the ring soak in the ultrasonic bath and remove. Then run it under the shower of steam in the front using tweezers to protect your hand. The whole process takes about 6 minutes, and the package will cost just under $200, which is equal to or lower than the price of most steamers alone.  

Home Cleaning Solutions

If you have Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection, home cleaning is probably out of the question. After all, it could take quite a long time to clean a 36-carat stone with a toothbrush, and that’s only a small fraction of the full collection. However, if your jewelry collection is a bit more modest, a toothbrush can be quite a respectable alternative to machine cleaning.

It may not be as harsh in order to get bits of dirt off, but it is a kinder, gentler method than machine cleaning. It’s hard to do damage to a diamond with a toothbrush. At the same time, you do need to pick your poison carefully. By poison, we mean the cleaning fluid you use to scrub it with. Here are some top choices:

1. Ammonia

Ammonia is tough on dirt, but it’s gentle enough to clean a diamond. Mix one-quarter cup of ammonia with one cup of warm water in a bowl. Let your diamond soak for about 15 minutes, then use a soft toothbrush to remove any remaining dirt and grime. Rinse with plain water and use a soft cloth to dry.

2. Toothpaste

Toothpaste can not only make your smile flawless, but it can also do the same for your diamond. Squeeze out an inch of toothpaste and mix with a tablespoon of warm water to form a loose paste. Because toothpaste is a mild abrasive, it doesn’t require much scrubbing, but you can give it a few toothbrush strokes for a deeper clean. Rinse well when done.

   3. Antacid

If dirty diamonds are giving you heartburn, antacid can kill two birds with one stone. Take a glass of warm water and put two antacid tablets in it to get fizzy. Repeat with another glass of warm water. Place your jewelry in one glass and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Drink the other glass. Rinse your jewelry, dry with a soft cloth, and enjoy the relief.

   4. Baking Soda

No matter how evolved we become, baking soda will never become obsolete. It can be used to make deodorant, to brush your teeth, remove odors, and now we can add cleaning diamond rings to the resume.

Mix one part baking soda with one part water in a small bowl. Dip a toothbrush into the solution and scrub diamond ring making sure to work in the cracks and crevices. Rinse the ring in cool water and dry with a lint-free cloth.

   5. Ketchup

It may seem counterintuitive to use ketchup to clean anything. After all, aren’t we always trying to remove ketchup stains from our clothing? The secret to ketchup as a diamond ring cleaner is its citric acid content, which breaks down dirt and restores diamonds to their radiance. Simply place some of the condiment in a small bowl, scrub with toothpaste, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

Jewelry Cleaning Kits

If you want to leave the toothbrushes and toothpaste for your teeth and the antacid for your heartburn, you can buy a jewelry kit specifically designed to clean your jewelry.

Most jewelry kits consist of a jar filled with a cleaning solution formulated to clean jewelry. The most reputable are made free of ammonia and harsh chemicals. Inside the jar is a dipping tray and small brush to scrub dirt. Some kits include a cloth to dry the jewelry with.

Dazzle Sticks

Ever look at your diamond and wish you could turn up the shine? With a dazzle stick, you literally can. The Dazzle Stick is a pen that you can throw in your purse for diamond cleaning on the go. Twist the pen up to dispense the cleaning gel into the brush. Its tiny bristles are especially good for getting dirt out of hard to reach spots. Rinse jewelry and brush tip when you are done.

Cleaning Lab-Created Diamonds

Because the chemical and physical properties of a diamond are identical to that of a natural diamond, they can be cleaned using the same methods, and if well maintained, can offer the same luster sparkle and brilliance as a natural diamond.

Like natural diamonds, it is safe to clean lab-created diamonds using an ultrasonic as well as a steamer, and home cleaning is also a viable option. If there are surrounding stones or any concern about whether or not the settings are secure, a professional jeweler is recommended.

If none of these apply, and you have the space and the lighting, synthetic diamond cleaning can be done at home. Here are the basic steps to keeping your lab-created diamond ring proposal ready at home.

  1. Spread out a towel in the area you intend to use for the jewelry cleaning. Make sure you have adequate light for dislodging dirt from crevices.
  2. Use tweezers to remove fibers lodged in the prongs.
  3. Presoak jewelry in a bowl of water to remove loose dirt.
  4. Dip ring in cleaning solution of choice. Any of the above will do.
  5. Scrub with soft bristle brush using circular motions, keeping a firm grip on your jewelry. Change angles often to make sure to get the hard to reach places.
  6. Rinse jewelry until all traces of solvent are removed.
  7. Use a clean soft cloth to dry completely and continue to polish to high shine.

What Not to Do When Cleaning Your Lab-Created Diamond

  1. Don’t use sharp objects, like pins or needles, to get dirt or grime out of jewelry settings. They may dislodge more than the dirt.
  2. Avoid using bleach or abrasive chemicals as they can cause erosion or discoloration of the lab-created diamond and its setting.
  3. Never remove the diamond from setting. Leave these kinds of modifications to a professional.

The way you choose to clean your diamond ring is just as unique to each individual as the diamond is itself. It depends on the amount of time you have, the amount of jewelry you have, convenience, and willingness to buy equipment. The safest and most thorough way is going to a professional. However, depending on your expectations, both types of jewelry cleaning machines can be feasible options as well.

The main objective is to be able to get the most enjoyment from your diamond possible and that means keeping it clean, lab-created or not.

What is your preference when it comes to diamond cleaning? Would you DIY or leave it to professionals only?

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