Wedding jewelry is a lot like your relationship: If you want it to be as sparkly and magical as it was in the beginning, you’ll need to put in a little work. Make sure your engagement ring and wedding band look great for long haul with regular cleanings and maintenance, both at home and with the help of the pros. “Engagement and wedding rings are everyday jewelry, and everyday jewelry can really take a beating,” says Katie Zimmerman, chief merchant officer at Blue Nile. “I recommend getting your ring professionally cleaned, polished, and prongs inspected once a year to maintain the setting’s integrity.” Her jewelers use high-pressure steam and an ultrasonic machine to clean and polish bands for their clients, and they routinely check that the stones and prongs are secure.
In between professional ring cleanings, you can use at-home solutions to keep your rings in good condition. Commercial jewelry cleaners are easy to use, but, warns Zimmerman, brands made with ammonia—which won’t hurt diamonds—can “get a bit harsh on your gemstones should you not wash it off or have them soak for an extensive period of time.” (So, if you’re wearing your grandmother’s amethyst or your mother-in-law’s sapphire, for example, look for a cleaner that’s ammonia-free.) An even easier option: Dish soap. “Mix a dime-size amount with warm water and soak your jewelry for 30 minutes,” says Zimmerman. “For added shine, use a small toothbrush to remove debris in the prongs or pavé. Buildup blocks light interactions with the stone, so keep it at peak brilliance with a gentle cleaning routine every few weeks.”
Related: How to Clean Your Wedding Band
More elaborate repairs—like replacing prongs, re-setting stones, or re-plating the metal—will definitely need a professional hand. “Jewelry repairs are like tread on your tires,” says Zimmerman. “It depends on the wear and tear as well as the type of metal. Some rings will need to be re-plated once a year while others can go two years. It depends on how well the ring is taken care of, and if it is treated like fine jewelry.” Platinum, the most durable metal, may not ever need to be re-dipped; the metal’s density and weight means it “holds up exceptionally well to time and daily wear,” says Zimmerman. White gold, though, which gets its color from being plated with protective, hard white rhodium, will require re-plating when its shine dulls.
Though wedding jewelry is tough enough to stand up to your everyday activities, some of the things you do on a regular basis could negatively impact how your rings look. “My top recommendations would be to remove your rings while gardening, in the kitchen, swimming, and showering,” says Zimmerman. “The chemicals in pool water or the ocean can be abrasive on both stones and metal. Lotion can also make the jewelry look dull and dirty.” While keeping your ring on for these types of activities is not likely to cause permanent damage, removing it will help you keep it sparkling between professional cleanings—but not instead of. “It’s impossible to keep your treasure looking new without regular ring maintenance,” says Zimmerman, “no matter how much you take it off.”