Diamonds are the hardest known natural substance known to man. They can cut through any metal or rock and the only way to cut diamond is with another diamond (with the exception of lasers). They are such a popular choice for jewellery as they sparkle more than any other gemstone and due to their exceptional hardness and good durability they make the perfect choice for engagement and wedding rings. Due to their top position on the Mohs scale, 10, they can take a very good polish and they are assigned the highest lustre named “adamantine”, after the Ancient Greek word adamas, which means firm, rigid or unyielding.
Diamond has an interesting property named hydrophobia.
Being made of carbon, diamond may be compared to the organic compounds (diamond is elemental carbon) and it has one property where it is described as being HYDROPHOBIC (a property also possessed by fats, oils, greases and waxes - all organic compounds) where droplets of water “bead up” on the surface of a diamond because diamond has no affinity for water and the surface of a diamond cannot be “wet” by water. This is an important point because the hydrophobic nature of diamond means that this allows fats, oils, greases and waxes to adhere to the surface of the diamond reducing the brilliance and fire of the diamond. Anything from sunscreens, moisturizers, make-up and oils and fats used in cooking and food preparation can reduce the sparkle, fire and brilliance of diamonds. Even the natural oils and grease from your fingers will adhere to your diamonds thus making regular cleaning inevitable.
It’s recommended that one doesn’t wear diamond jewellery while preparing food, gardening, performing heavy exercise and showering – oils from hair products and body washes can stick to diamonds and dull their lustre. Fats and oils won’t harm your stone, however they will affect your diamond’s performance.
Due to diamonds’ hydrophobic nature it’s necessary to give them a regular clean. This can be done at home with a few simple tools. A simple plan to keep your diamonds sparkling is to soak them once a week in a gentle degreasing solution such as warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap or cloudy ammonia. Another home cleaning tip is to leave your diamonds soaking overnight in an ammonia based cleaning product such as a window cleaner. After the soaking, gently brush with a soft toothbrush that is used exclusively for this purpose. Be sure to get underneath the settings and clean the pavilion facets where oils and dirt can be trapped. Gently rinse in warm water then leave to dry on some clean paper towelling. A hair dryer is a great way to quickly dry jewellery without getting fibres from towels trapped under claw settings.
There are a few precautions to keep in mind:
Be careful cleaning jewellery near sinks and open drains. Make sure plugs are securely fitted before rinsing or rinse in a bowl away from drains. Use a rubber sink mat where possible to avoid breakages or knocks to settings if the jewellery is accidentally dropped.
Do not use harsh chlorine based cleaning products (such as household bleach) or abrasives (such as toothpaste) to clean diamond jewellery. These types of harsh cleaners can erode or even dissolve metal resulting in damaged settings or loosened claws. (NB: Do not wear precious metal jewellery in swimming pools or spas as chlorine erodes metal).
Check to see if your diamond is still secure in its setting. Shake it close to your ear and if you suspect you hear the diamond rattling, take it immediately to your jeweller for inspection.
There are also good commercial cleaning solutions available to clean diamond jewellery at home. Your local jeweller may sell it or you can visit a jewellery supply store. Normally it’s a solution in a round pot that contains a plastic basket. The jewels are dropped into the basket then lowered into the solution and left to soak for 30 seconds or more depending upon the product. Once the diamonds have soaked, retrieve them and gently clean with a soft brush. Finally rinse them in warm water then dry with a hair dryer. Be careful to read any instructions and only use these solutions for diamonds and perhaps ruby and sapphire. Other gemstones, especially pearls, turquoise and opals can be damaged by these solutions.
If you’re passing by your jeweller ask for an ultrasonic quick clean. This is normally a free service or a small charge may be incurred for jewellery purchased from other stores. It’s also recommended that you get your diamond jewellery cleaned professionally once every 18 months to two years. You’ll be delighted to see it all looking brand new again and this is the perfect opportunity to have a jeweller check all your settings and rhodium plate any white gold that may have lost its coating.