In safe hands: your wedding ring care guide

The flowers will fade and the cake will be eaten, but your wedding rings should go on gleaming forever. Here’s how to make sure yours really do last that long

18ct white gold 1.48 carat mixed cut diamond cluster ring, £3,995, Chisholm Hunter

If this was a movie, you and your beloved would stroll up to the jeweller’s window, instantly spot the engagement ring (or wedding bands) of your dreams, and then breeze cheerfully out the door with the diamond dazzler fitting perfectly and already on your finger.

Life, alas, is a wee bit more complicated than it is on the silver screen, and the ring-buying process requires careful consideration. Will your chosen metal tarnish over time? What about the claws that hold your diamond in place – is there a risk these could come loose? We quizzed three experts in the business – Karyn Rose-Brown, assistant e-commerce manager at Chisholm Hunter; Richard Laing, MD of Laings; and McCalls Jewellers in Aberdeen – to get the inside story.

Picking a ring just comes down to what looks good on your finger – doesn’t it? Not necessarily, according to Karyn at Chisholm Hunter: “The wearer’s occupation, style, allergies and lifestyle are all factors to consider when choosing rings,” she tells us. “Some people are hyper-sensitive to certain metals or to the metals that gold is alloyed with.”

Richard at Laings agrees: “Think about the practical side of your rings. You’ll be wearing these every day for the rest of your life, so they need to fit in with your lifestyle.”

Discuss these factors at the start and you’ll be able to select something that works for you. If you’re allergy-prone, say, certain metals are kinder to your skin than others – platinum, for example, is 95% pure and is a popular option. 

From left: 18ct yellow gold round brilliant diamond ring, £995, Chisholm Hunter; Contemporary Diamonds Collection palladium ring, from £1,860, Sheila Fleet; Family Collection Anna 18ct rose-gold 0.50ct brilliant-cut diamond ring, £4,095, Laings

Your job can have an impact on the type of ring you should be considering, particularly if you want a design that includes stones. “Rings with claw settings should perhaps be avoided if you work with your hands a lot, as the claws can sometimes catch and be pulled,” McCalls Jewellers point out.

This doesn’t mean gemstones are off-limits, just that some settings will suit you better. “There’s a whole variety besides claw, such as channel, bezel and flush, which will all keep your stones secure,” says Karyn. Take the bezel setting, for instance: “Also known as rub-over settings, bezels are very secure as they cover the edge of the diamond in a continuous metal rim which protects the stones and keeps them safe,” she explains. A flush setting is good for those seeking a secure sparkle: “Popular in eternity bands, the diamond is placed so that it doesn’t sit above the metal line. This minimises the chance of it catching and makes the ring smooth to the touch.”

If you work in an office, you have more flexibility. “You can be more adventurous with your rings,” says Richard. “So long as you look after it correctly, most designs will be fine.”

McCalls Jewellers agree: “The wear and tear you can expect in an office would be minimal compared to someone who works in a more manual job.”

It’s not just the stones that are at risk of damage, though, points out Karyn: “Every metal will scratch and need maintenance over time. When gold is scratched or damaged, the metal is lost and can gradually be worn down.” To restore yellow or rose gold, a good polish is usually sufficient. White gold, however, needs a bit more pampering to bring it back to life, as Karyn explains: “White gold is actually yellow gold mixed with other metals to create a whiter appearance. Over time this will fade to a yellow colour.” Most white gold is plated with rhodium to give a high-shine finish; it’s likely this will need to be reapplied periodically to bring your ring back to its best.

Diamond engagement and wedding band set, £POA, McCalls Jewellers

If that sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, our good friend platinum might be the answer. “When it’s scratched, the metal is simply displaced, not lost, so a jeweller can polish platinum to look like new again,” confirms Karyn.

Taking care of your rings will go a long way towards keeping them in good condition. “Just use common sense,” says Richard. “Always take them off before embarking on heavy-duty tasks such as gardening and DIY. I would also advise against wearing them to the gym – you want to avoid any unnecessary knocks.”

It’s not just swinging the kettlebells that can damage your precious rings, warns Karyn: “We’d recommend you remove your jewellery before applying beauty lotions, makeup and perfume. These can clog up the settings and even penetrate some porous coloured gemstones.”

There’s common-sense advice from McCalls too: “When you’re not wearing your rings, keep them in a safe place – a jewellery box or a small cloth pouch is ideal.”

Richard likes the idea of having a dedicated place for your rings to live when they’re not on your finger: “Never store them on a shelf or in a cabinet over the sink!” he warns. One nudge and they’ll quite literally be down the drain.

From left: 9ct yellow gold 0.50ct brilliant-cut diamond full eternity ring, £1,260, Laings; Platinum oval diamond four-claw and round brilliant diamond cluster ring, £19,995, Chisholm Hunter; Pink sapphire rose gold eternity ring, £625, McCalls Jewellers

If you feel your rings could do with a clean, have a go at home. “Warm soapy water and a soft toothbrush will do the trick,” says Richard. Just put the plug in first…

“Gently rub the band with a soft cloth to remove surface oils,” is Karyn’s tip for more shine. “But we’d also advise having your rings professionally cleaned every six to 12 months. That way, any damage can be caught early and dealt with.”

It’s always worth insuring your rings. “Sometimes jewellery is covered in your home insurance policy, but this is dependent on the terms and conditions,” says Richard. “You can take out a standalone policy to protect specific items; if the worst were to happen, you’re more likely to get a payout.”

Karyn is an advocate of insurance too: “These policies can often be purchased at the same time as you buy the ring,” she says.

A gorgeous ring you’ll cherish for the rest of your life? Who says happy endings only happen in the movies…