Engagement Ring Care

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With a little care your ring will maintain it's beauty for many, many years. With practical habits, regular cleaning, and careful storage, caring for your engagement ring is easy and efficient.

When to Remove Your Ring

Take off your ring when going to bed to allow your skin to breath. Sleeping with your jewelry on will reduce it’s lifetime as the constant rubbing of bed sheets on metal and gems will abrade it over time.
Avoid wearing your ring while swimming, because your fingers could temporarily shrink in cool temperatures, allowing it to fall off. Please don’t build sand castles with your ring on. The sand can scratch your stone and metal and the ring can easily get lost.
Chloride in pool water can eat away your gold jewelry over time; sulfur in hot springs can tarnish silver and low karat gold jewelry.
Take your ring off before participating in sports or other vigorous activity that could involve sharp blows. Rock climbing with your engagement ring on, even if you wear gloves, is not a good idea. Sharp blows can dislodge a gem in it’s setting, chip or scratch it.
Remove your ring before applying makeup, lotion, or creams to your hands to avoid excessive buildup that can dull the stones. If you wash your hands with your ring on, rinse the ring well afterwards. Hand soaps do contain lots of oils that will dull your stone, watery soap always finds it’s way into settings and will make your ring look dirty and lifeless.
Take off your engagement ring before beginning housecleaning or yard work that involves harsh chemicals or rough equipment.

Metal Wear and Scratches

Normal wear and tear happens, and you will need to maintain your piece over the years. Precious metals wear down over time especially when worn every day like wedding or engagement rings. Platinum is the most resistant to wear of all the precious metals and will need less maintenance than Palladium, Gold or Silver alloys.
Please note that all metal will scratch. Softer metals like sterling silver will have deeper scratches than while gold, palladium or platinum rings. Finishes will change with wear, high polished rings will get a more satin look due to tiny scratches, while satin finishes will get a dull shine and show some shiny burnished marks where it got in contact with harder objects. Your ring will develop it’s own patina based on how you wear it. A professional jeweler can polish out light scratches from time to time. To give your polished silver, gold, palladium and platinum rings a quick polish yourself use a special jewelry polishing cloth. The cloth should be kept in the packet when not used otherwise abrasive dust could accumulate on it.

Keeping Track of Your Ring

Place your ring in the same, safe place every day to avoid accidentally misplacing it. Don’t store it in the bathroom as moisture in the air may tarnish alloys such as silver quickly.
Avoid removing or placing your ring near vulnerable places, such as sinks or bathtubs, where it could easily be knocked off and lost.
Always store your engagement ring by itself in a safe place to prevent the jewelry from getting scratched or chipped by other gems.
Keep a little fabric pouch or zip lock bag in your purse for those times you have to take off your ring while being not at home. Wrap your ring in a tiny soft cloth and place in the pouch in a save small compartment of your purse where it does not get shuffled around with other objects.
 

Tips for Ring Storage

Protection from damage and theft should be your primary concerns when storing your engagement ring. Here are a few tips for storing your ring safely.
Jewelry boxes should be lined with soft fabric, but be aware that a noticeable jewelry box is the first place a burglar will look.
A diamond engagement ring should be wrapped in soft fabric and placed in a padded jewelry bag for long-term storage.
It's best to keep seldom-worn jewelry in a safe deposit box.
Never store diamond jewelry loose with other pieces. Diamonds, being the hardest material on earth, could easily scratch or nick other pieces, while the metals on the engagement ring can be damaged by other gems.

Tarnish

Tarnish on sterling silver or silver/palladium ring can develop if they are stored not properly in an air tight zip log bag which will keep it away from air born pollutants. Tarnish develops quickly in a damp environment and is likely to go black in a sulfurous area. Hot tubs and hot springs often have surfur in it's water which will tarnish your jewelry. Keep in mind that some skin care products like Acne solutions do contain sulfur. Do not wear your ring when applying those products and wash your hands before putting your ring back on.
Tarnish is just a thin layer of oxide on the metals surface. In most cases it can easily be removed with a soft jewelry polishing cloth. If you wear your rings every day, tarnish usually does not develop as the rubbing of your skin on metal and the oils of your skin will keep it bright.

Ring Cleaning Tips

Simply wearing your engagement ring while washing your hands is not an adequate way to clean it. In fact, soaps and other cleaners used on your hands can cloud and dull your ring. It should be cleaned periodically to keep it brilliant. Especially gemstone rings with light colored pale gems like white sapphires, aquamarines, topaz and many others will look dull and lifeless if not cleaned at least once a week. Diamonds and moissanites due to their unique internal optical properties and fire will look sparkly for a longer time, but still should be cleaned regularly.

 

Do-it-Yourself Cleaning

The easiest way to clean a ring is with a solution of warm water and mild liquid dish detergent (Dawn works really well). Don't do your cleaning over very hard surfaces like granite counter top or the kitchen sink unless you put down a soft towel. Your jewelry will get slippery and the items could be damaged if they are dropped. Place a plastic Tupperware in your sink, when the ring slips out of your hands it will just fall on soft plastic and not bounce on the hard enamel or steel surface of your sink. Wet the ring with the water/soap solution and use a soft bristled brush like a baby tooth brush to loosen dirt. Gently brush the metal and the stone. Usually there is a hole on the inside of your ring under the setting that allows access to the underside of the stone for cleaning. Rinse the ring and use a soft, lint-free cloth to pat the ring dry (don't rub the stone or metal). Here a video that shows the process.


Store-bought jewelry solutions may also be used for soaking diamond rings as well as solutions of ammonia and ethyl alcohol. Read the instructions on the label carefully and check for which metals and stones the solution is save to use. Ammonia (in a mild solution with three parts water) is particularly good for brightening yellow gold, but should never be used with fracture-filled diamonds as it may cause the diamonds to become cloudy or discolored. Don't use ammonia solutions on Sterling Silver rings. Some ultrasonic cleaners can also be used on certain stones like diamonds and sapphires but are risky for some other gemstones (see table below). Emeralds, opals, pearls and amber should only be cleaned by a jeweler.
If your engagement ring contains different types of stones, be sure whichever cleaning method you choose is appropriate for all of them. Pearls, for example, are far softer and more delicate than many gems, and can easily be scratched or pitted by cleaning solutions recommended for diamonds.

Never use toothpaste to clean your jewelry. Toothpaste is very abrasive and will scratch any fine jewelry metal, and even some gems.


Gemstone
Moh's Hardness
Toughness
Steam Cleaning
Ultrasonic
Alexandrite
8.5 excellent
usually
usually
Amber
2 - 2.5
poor
never
never
Amethyst
7
good
risky
usually
Aquamarine
7.5 - 8 good
risky
risky
Citrine
7
good
risky
usually
Diamond
10
good
usually
usually
Emerald
7.5 - 8 poor
never
never
Garnet
6.5 - 7.5 fair
never
usually
Iolite
7 – 7.5
fair
risky
risky
Jade
6.5 - 7 excellent
risky
usually
Lapis Lazuli
5 - 6
good
never
never
Moissanite
9.5 good
usually
usually
Morganite
7.5 - 8 good
risky
risky
Onyx
6.5 - 7 good
risky
Risky
Opal
5.5 - 6.5 fair
never
never
Pearl
2.5 - 4.5 good
never
never
Peridot
6.5 - 7 fair
never
risky
Rose Quartz
7
good
risky
risky
Rhodolite
6.5 - 7.5 good
never
usually
Ruby
9
excellent
usually
usually
Sapphire
9
excellent
usually
usually
Smokey Quartz
7
good
never
usually
Spinel
8
good
usually
usually
Tanzanite
6.5 - 7 fair
never
never
Topaz
8
poor
never
never
Tourmaline
7 – 7.5
fair
risky
risky
Turquoise
5 - 6
fair
never
never
Zircon
6.5 - 7.5 fair
risky
risky

Hardness and toughness are not directly related as the table shows. Hardness relates to scratch resistance, a materials ability to stand up to abrasion. Toughness is a measure of the ability of a mineral to absorb energy, and is a measure of how likely a material is to chip or break. Even though diamond is the hardest mineral it can chip and fracture in normal day to day wear and tear.
More gemstone info is available here.

Professional Cleaning

Rings can also be professionally cleaned if they become dirty. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are the most popular choices among jewelers. If your engagement ring has any serious flaws, such as fractures or cracks in the stone, be sure the jeweler is aware of them because certain cleaning techniques may exacerbate the flaws.

Maintaining Your Ring

Clean your ring at least once a week to keep it as brilliant as the day you first put it on.
Get your gemstone ring inspected at least twice a year by a qualified jeweler to guarantee the setting is secure. Have any repairs recommended by your jeweler performed right away.
 

Insuring Your Investment

Have the appraisal of your engagement ring updated every few years in case of loss. Insure your valuable engagement ring against theft, loss, or accidental damage. See also my warranty info for more information.

If in doubt just ask me about unique care and cleaning requirements of the ring you purchased from me.

Retiring this blog

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I decided to retire this blog. I made a new web site with a integrated blogging function and will continue to blog there.

Please check out my lastest blog post about my goals for 2014 and I hope you will follow me on my new site.

Happy New Year to all!


Stone Setting Workshop at New Approach School

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In February I took a week off from my normal work and traveled to Tenessee to attend the Stone Setting Comprehensive workshop at New Approach School. I had heard great things about this school, the teacher Blaine Lewis and especially this class. I really needed a referesher for stone setting. I do it daily but always suspect there are things I could do easier, quicker and just better. I am fairly good, I would think, at bezel setting but always stuggle with prong settings, have good and bad days when trying flush setting, rarely do channel settings and never even tried Pave or bead setting. 

Even better about this whole gig was that I finally met some online friends from our Etsymetal team. I spend the week with Shirlee Grund and Sarah Hood. We had a blast. It was great knowing a few people in class already. But we also met a few other students, some locals and some who traveled to this class from various locations in the US.

Full week's work at stone setting class
All the practice rings finished during Comprehensive Stone Setting Class at New Approach School


The class is intense but somehow even beginners managed to keep up (more or less). I was glad I took this class and did not jump to the advanced setting class. Even if some stuff was what I do day in and out, I still learned a lot of new tricks to make it all better in the future. Some settings I did similar (maybe because I learned it from his bezel and flush setting video some years ago). Other setting tricks were really an eye opener (prong tightening via vector approach!!!! Duh, why did I not think about that one). I learned that I need to open my funnel holes way more than I did before and seats don't need to be that wide. Lot's of proper tool use, tips like which bur to used first, how to hold the flexshaft and get control over the bur, the proper height to cut the seat... It's all just packed with little eye openers and "secrete" tips.

Bead setting practice
practicing bead setting for the first time


Blaine's way of demonstrating the techniques is great and really understandable. Loved seeing everything he did in so much detail on the large screens via his super magnification. I took lot's of notes and refereed back to them ever since coming home and jumping right back into setting stones in my orders. Since returning and in the months afterwards I definitely saw an improvement in my settings and the time it took to get them finish.

Some photos I took during the week of the setting rings and the tools we used can be found on Flickr.

It was a intense week of learning. The class started at 8:30am and went till 6pm or 7pm most nights. Blaine stayed long some night since we just could not get enough of his wisdom and wanted to finish our tasks before going home.

Channel setting exercise
Channel setting practice run with brass blank and CZs. With some amazing tips  it's actually not that much of a mystery anymore.

The practice pieces during the class were all done with his pre-made brass mountings setting cheap CZ's. It's a great way of learning without having to fear to damage expensive mountings or stones.
  • Day 1 was flush setting and round stone prongs
  • Day 2 was bead setting and drove us all crazy. I think that was the hardest for us all. Kind of strange he did that so early on in the week but I guess the purpose was to teach us working with gravers. That really made a huge difference after that day. I think we also did a channel setting in the afternoon.
  • Day 3 we started grinding gravers and how to sharpen them, then jumped into an oval thick wall bezel setting. He showed us how to do milligrain on settings. And more custom tool making.
  • Day 4 we did princess cut prong setting and then a semi-bezel setting with round stone
  • Day 5 last day was really intense: short prong basket setting, Gypsy setting with a round Cabochon and then another type of channel setting with tilt in stones
I might get the days mixed up a bit, there was so much going on.

Stone setting Practice pieces at end of day 2
End of Day 2.
What this class certainly does not teach is fabricating settings. That's probably covered in other classes and for sure his 8 or 12 week programs. There is absolutely no designing and no fabrication going on in the Stone Setting Comprehensive class. He just hands out blanks and stones and you set the stones in the blanks. Simple as that :) What one will learn is setting various types of stones (mostly faceted) in any type of cast, die-stuck or commercial setting. Of course once you know the generic rules for stone settings it can be applied to about any other setting type too. And it will make fabricating settings a lot easier too when one knows already how the stone will be set in there.

I really loved that we made custom tools and learned graver sharpening. 

Image
Gravers and custom stone setting tools
It was possible to purchase new GRS graver blanks during the workshop and learn to properly shape and sharpen them right there. I came home with a whole new set of stone setting tools. I love new tools!!!!! Those graver's and tools have been used every day ever since I got home. Makes such a difference!

The class is well worth the money. It certainly adds up quite a bit with tuition, lodging, car to travel around, food, flight from LA,... But I am really glad I finally did it. It will pay for itself in no time. I think I might be interested to go back to the advanced class in a year or two.

All these long demonstrations were great, packed with lot's of stories from his many years in the business. I really liked that he did a few little "screw ups" too during his demonstrations like braking some CZ's when channel setting. Not sure if those were intentional.  But he turned it around as a teaching point in how to fix these things. And that breaking stones happens to the best. Kind of made me feel a bit better :)

During our visit in Franklin, Tennessee we ate great southern food, heard some nice county music performances, did some sightseeing and met with Carrie Nunes who showed us around in Nashville. Beautiful city. I bet it's really nice there during non-winter times. It was a great winter getaway for me, a nice break from the oh so tough LA weather. In a way I loved the cold and rain for a couple days after spending my time in 80 degree Fahrenheit the week before in LA.  I came back with lot's of new knowledge to try and practice immediately since I got lot's of orders to finish.


Morganite Tetra Palladium Ring

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Last week this trillion Morganite ring in palladium sold and got finally completely finished up.



I made the palladium mounting for the genuine stone over a year ago and had left the gem unset to allow for some easier sizing. It sold and only needed to be enlarged 1 size up, which was possible by just hammering the shank. Not something that would have been that easy if I had completely set the stone in the setting. It would have been too much stress and risk of stone damage. I don't usually like to hammer much on a shank when a stone is already set, especially one with sharp corners. In those cases I usually opt to cut the shank and laser a little insert in to bring it up to size. Glad it worked out without having to do that. It was nice to finally be able to set the beautiful peachy Morganite in it and make it all pretty.



I will miss this little sparkler. So sad that I don't have another gem like this. I will keep my eyes open if another nice trillion Morganite will cross my path again.




I also got a new Camera last week :-D
Finally upgraded from my 8 or 9 year old Nikon D50 to a Nikon D7100. Yes, I am a Nikon girl. I don't even consider anything else. Good thing is: all my lenses still fit, I only needed to invest in the new camera body.

This was the first ring I shot with the new camera. Still somewhat similar overall since I was used to using manual settings for years.  The new one has way better picture resolution ( 24MPX vs 6MPX), which helps a lot when cropping my photos. Downside is the image files are huge and my computer needs a cleaning badly.
The autofocus with the D7100 is nicer and quicker and it has a larger range of aperture settings when working with my 40mm macro lens. This is great to archive a blurred background with just the sharp focus on the front. Gotta play with those settings a bit more.
It does have video too, but I am not sure yet when I will use that. Well, it's good to have it as an option.

The bad thing was that I apparently also needed to upgrade Photoshop. My old camera raw software was not able to open the new Raw files. Maybe there is a way around it by just getting the Raw manager from Nikon directly. I did not realize Adobe switched to monthly subscription only and does not seem to sell just the software anymore. Could be more expensive over time. But on the other hand always having the latest version is not that bad either. I did not recognize much of an improvement of the new PS CC version over my old CS5, at least not for the few tools I only use. I still have a few weeks with my trial version before I need to commit. Maybe I find a cheaper way and keep working with the old PS. I know there are other cheaper photo editing software available, but I somewhat like staying with photoshop.


Tetra Bridal Sets with Trillion Garnet and Lab Sapphire

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A couple weeks ago I finished a set of 4 rings for an awesome couple. They wanted matching bridal sets each from my Tetra collection which incorporate trillion cut faceted stones. For their sets they chose a lab created blue sapphire and a Mozambique garnet set in palladium with a matching 2mm contoured wedding band.



Bridal ring sets made in palladium with Garnet and lab created sapphire

The rings are also available now on my web site as Sapphire or Garnet bridal sets or just the garnet ring or lab sapphire engagement ring each. 
The lab sapphire ring can be made with a standard lab created sapphire or a more expensive Chatham  created sapphire. 
The garnet ring is also available with a Rhodolite garnet which would have more a raspberry color instead of the warm red Mozambique garnet color.

Palladium ring with trillion cut lab created blue sapphire
Palladium ring with trillion cut genuine Mozambique Garnet


It was fun creating these bridal pieces with those colorful gemstones. They are part of my Tetra collection rings which I have been making for years mostly as statement or cocktail rings. It's nice to bring this line now into my bridal selection too. I already offer a moissanite version too and can create it also with diamonds or genuine sapphires upon request.

The couple has been very happy with their rings too. Here the note I received from them: 
"We received our rings this weekend and couldn't be more thrilled with them. They are beautiful pieces! Thank-you again for creating them for us." 
Happy customers means mission accomplished!


Custom Cut White Cushion Cut Lab Sapphires

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A couple months ago I asked my supplier for lab created sapphires to cut me a few square cushion cut white ones in 2 of the most popular sizes of 5mm and 6mm. Somehow square cushion cuts seem a bit more popular for my rings than the standard rectangle cushions I usually get. Took a couple month to finally get these sparkly stones in my hand. I had a mounting laying around that fit the smaller 5mm one for a sample ring to be photographed.

They are now available in on my web site or in my Etsy shop.


 

Finished it first with my standard polished band and then took one of my texturing hammers and applied a subtle texture to the band for a more rustic look.


Ring can also be made with a semi-bezel similar to these rings. This half bezel setting has a cut out on 2 sides.




Or in a smaller 5mm stone version:



Lab created sapphires offer a great alternative to the more expensive nature made stones. I would love to offer these too with genuine white sapphires, but unfortunately it's quite hard to find good suppliers for cushion cut white sapphires. Does not seem to be a common cut for them. 

EtsyMetal Blog Carnival: Favorite Things to Do in the Studio

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THIS MONTH'S TOPIC:

Favorite Things to Do in the Studio
What are your favorite things to do in the studio? Any favorite techniques, tools that you like to use...?


My favorite thing to do in the studio is making jewelry, what a surprise. One of the reasons of course is: there isn't any chance to do other things well. Every horizontal surface, except the floor, is covered with tools, half finished jewelry and usually a decent amount of dust and grime. Not very inviting to bring other tasks into the studio.

So the studio is really the dedicated place were I get my handy work done. Not a bad thing at all. Although it does sometimes feel like I have to drag myself into that room in the late mornings, once I start working it quickly becomes my happy place. Time to produce and get dirty.

This summer I started listening to audiobooks via headphones while finishing my work. It makes time fly a lot quicker and is more entertaining. Last Friday I played Tina Frey's "Bossypants", which resulted in sudden burst of loud laughter coming out of my studio. Guess my neighbors think I am starting to go crazy. Well, let them think that. I am certainly having fun listening while being productive at the same time.

Feel free to check out what other EtsyMetal members like to do in their studios.


Laura Jane Bouton
2Roses
Abella Blue
Tosca Teran aka nanopod Hybrid Studio
Laura Bracken

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