So you have a beautiful engagement ring, or maybe you've even got the wedding ring too by the time you're reading this... don't stop reading. This advice isn't just for newly engaged couples!!! In fact, the longer you've been wearing your wedding rings, the MORE IMPORTANT this is. How you care for your engagement and wedding rings is very important even after you've gotten them.
I've been sporting my engagement and wedding rings for almost 10 years now - and I wear them every day, although I do not sleep in them. It's the one piece of jewelry (well three, actually since I have double wedding bands) that I'll actually go back home to get if I realize I've had a morning brainfart and forgotten to put on any jewelry. I keep them clean because, as a wedding planner, clients and wedding guests are always checking out my hands to see if I have rings (oh yes, I do notice you noticing - thank you, my husband has great taste). So as important as my wedding rings are to me, I was honestly shocked one day last summer when I realized that the platinum setting on the stones on one of the wedding bands had actually separated. Yikes! When did that happen?
Fortunately, the jeweler who made my rings (designed by my husband Bill), put four prongs around each stone in all three bands - meaning that although the prongs had separated from each other, they didn't separate from the individual stones and I didn't lose anything. Because each stone is held in separately, it's like a safety net. More than one piece of the setting would have to fail at the same time for anything to actually fall out. Of course, you've gotta keep an eye on things and do regular inspections (more than just slamming them on your fingers without looking like I do every morning). Making sure your setting has four prongs around each stone is something important to watch for when ring shopping or creating your own design. Don't skimp on the setting or you will regret it someday when you see a hole in your ring.
My engagement ring and wedding bands are made of diamonds and Tanzanites, not the most traditional, but Tanzanite is my absolute favorite stone in the whole world. The bands are gold, but the settings are platinum because it's supposed to be a stronger, safer metal to use for guarding your precious stones. Bill used a family diamond, and the big Tanzanites on the engagement ring were purchased during a cruise we took together before he popped the question. I would be heartbroken if any of those were lost. And the diamond is simply not replaceable. It has history.
Why did my wedding band separate? Probably because the wonderful jeweler who made the ring retired a couple of years ago (he designed a lot of family friends' rings too and it was always fun to see all of our pictures up on their bulletin board of happy couples), and I haven't known where to take my rings to have them given their annual checkup. And I'm pretty hard on my rings and watches. I procrastinated about getting them their "annual checkup" because you hear horror stories about the stones getting switched at even the most reputable of jewelers. Years ago, my mother had some family jewelry deconstructed, and when she went to have some pieces made to give to my cousins as gifts, she found out the very painful way that one of the stones had been switched with paste (another word for fake stones). She was devastated. And it was too late to do anything about it, obviously.
In addition to having your ring inspected AT LEAST annually by a reputable jeweler, you should also do the following things to keep your most important pieces of jewelry safe:
-Insure your rings. You probably received an appraisal with your ring, and that's all you have to submit to your homeowners or rental insurance company. If you don't have an appraisal, spend the money and get one done. You would be amazed how inexpensive insurance is for such valuable items. Generally speaking, it will run you somewhere between $50 and $200 annually depending on the appraised value of your rings. And if you happen to have any other very valuable jewelry, this is a good time to insure that too on the same policy rider. Insurance doesn't just cover you having a home burglary and losing the jewelry, it usually also protects your pieces in everyday life and on vacation (check your policy details).
-Use a ring holder in your bedroom. When you take off your rings to slather on lotion, you shouldn't be sticking them on your bedside table. Trust me, a friend's Rottweiler treated her VERY expensive ring like a snack the week before her wedding and, although she got it back (in the most disgusting way possible), there was damage to the metals on the ring. Diamonds are forever, but the different coatings you choose for your precious metals are not impervious to stomach acids. If you doubt me, it ended up being a television episode about weird things pets eat.
-Use a ring holder in your kitchen. You know that you don't want to have to deep clean your ring every time you prepare chicken or mess with cookie dough, but if you wear your rings while you're cooking, that's exactly what you're going to be brushing out of the nooks and crannies in your setting later. NEVER take off your rings and set them on ledge or your kitchen counter. Countless irreplaceable items of jewelry have been mangled by garbage disposals this way. Or almost worse, brides spend years wondering if the ring went down the drain or not. Plus there's the trash factor too - don't want to have to dig through that. If you don't have a ring holder in the kitchen, run upstairs and put your rings on the holder on your dresser.
There's another thing about having a ring holder on your dresser - you're really NOT supposed to sleep in your engagement and wedding rings. That's why they need their own sleeping accommodations (ring holder on dresser). There are several good reasons for this, the first of which was given to me by Denny, our now-retired favorite jeweler. Wearing your rings 24/7, especially if you have wide or multiple bands, isn't good for your fingers. It contributes to the deterioration of the tissue between your skin and bone, and that's why so many old ladies who wear big stacks of rings have those bony-looking fingers and their rings seem to just slide up and down their finger joint between knuckles. Not sure if this is strictly medically true, but I believe Denny and it makes sense. If you never take off your rings, you know how funky it can be underneath when you finally do.
When you sleep in your rings, you risk scratching the bed or scratching your spouse if you have a raised setting. Probably the ring will survive but the abuse isn't good for it. Plus sometimes our bodies puff up a bit during the night (especially true down here in the humidity of the Caribbean) and the rings can be uncomfortably tight in the morning. Tight rings just contribute to the finger swelling.
I'd imagine that if you read my blog about wearing your rings when you travel ("Your Engagement Ring Belongs on Your Left Ring Finger, Not in Your Suitcase") or saw that episode of TLC's "Wedding Island" where I had to track down missing wedding rings AND the engagement ring, you now know how totally horrified I was by that whole scene. As soon as I realized there was a problem with my band, that ring went into the safe until it was properly repaired. And I kept a close eye on the two I was still wearing.
Bill had my rings fixed and cleaned up and inspected at the very upscale jeweler my step-father prefers when we were back up in DC last month. I asked him to take care of it as my anniversary gift, and he balked. Til he understood that it wasn't all about the money aspect of the gift. I knew my schedule would suck and I really wanted the rings repaired. It was his first stop the day after we got home.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!