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Engagement Ring - Lead 2016
Credit: Getty

If it's true that your engagement ring is the most important piece of jewelry you'll receive in your life, then it's probably a good idea to make sure it actually lasts a lifetime.

"Fine jewelry, especially engagement and wedding rings, are designed for everyday wear," says Don O’Connell, senior vice president at Charles & Colvard, the fine jewelry company that created the moissanite stone. "[But] some gemstones, like emeralds, are more susceptible to damage than others and [...] certain metals are softer than you might expect."

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In other words, if you want your precious bauble to keep sparkling for years to come, you'll have to give it some TLC. We asked O'Connell to shed some (expert) light on how to care of your engagement ring like a pro.

1. Take it off when performing certain activities.

O'Connell says that gold can easily get scratched or dented by accidental hard blows, so you should always remove your gold ring when you're doing heavy labor like gardening or home repairs.

"While gemstones like moissanite and diamond are extremely sturdy, settings and prongs can be damaged, causing the stones to become loose or even fall out," he warns.

If you're headed for a long day by the pool or on the beach, consider leaving your sparkler at home since chlorine and salt water are damaging to precious metals. Also, you don't want to risk losing it while swimming, right?

2. Have your engagement ring cleaned by a professional once a year.

That is a must if your bling is an antique or is damaged in any way. And if you own a detailed ring with a lot of nooks and crannies that can get dirt caught in hard-to-reach places, you need to schedule at least two cleaning appointments with a professional. To sum things up: Just leave the deep-cleaning to the pros.

3. For at-home cleaning, first get to know your metal and gem.

"You can clean most fine jewelry by soaking it in a bowl of warm water with dishwashing soap. Scrub with a soft toothbrush, then lay out to dry," suggests O'Connell. "For pearls, use a soft makeup brush to scrub."

Before you pay a visit to your local retailer to buy a cleaning solution though, make sure you are absolutely sure what kind of metal your ring is made of: gold, platinum, or silver, etc.

And never (we cannot stress this enough) clean it with harsh chemicals. "Household cleaning agents can corrode your setting," warns O'Connell.

Another option would be ultrasonic cleaning but that's only for fine jewelry that features sturdy metals and hard gems like moissanite and diamond. If your ring has soft or porous gems such as pearls or opals, ultrasonic cleaners are not your thing.

4. How you store your bling is important.

Why, you may ask? Well, because proper storage ensures your ring will last longer and look as great as it did on the day you were proposed. "Although it’s tempting to be lazy, don’t place all your jewelry in one spot," suggests O'Connell. "Hard stones like moissanite and diamond can damage other pieces of jewelry. Also, we all know the frustration involved in untangling jewelry!" Oh yes, definitely been there, done that.

He says the best thing to do is to store your jewelry in a fabric-lined, compartmentalized case or drawer. And if your ring is made of sterling silver, keep it in an anti-tarnish bag.

"Some gemstones, like opals and pearls, need to 'breathe' so they don’t crack. Don’t store them in anything airtight," he adds.

5. Insure it!

Take it from someone who has already parted ways with a wedding band—losing it was no fun. And even though insurance will not miraculously bring back your precious ring, at least it will reduce the emotional and financial stress if it happens.

"It’s always a good idea to insure your fine jewelry. This can sometimes be offered as an extension to your homeowners insurance, or there are a number of providers that offer individual policies specifically for fine jewelry," O'Connell says.