Diamonds are gorgeous gemstones, and you want nothing more than to showcase that beauty to the world. But while being sparkly and shiny is what they do best, diamonds can become a bit dull when they get dirty.
What about other issues, like rust, for example? Can diamonds get rusty or stained?
Diamonds can’t get rusty as rust, which is known as iron oxide, is an example of the oxidation of iron. Diamond is made out of carbon, which means it needs different conditions in order to oxidize.
On the other hand, if your diamond looks stained, it means it accumulated all sorts of dirt. Can you prevent your diamond from getting dirty? How can you clean your diamond?
Answers to these – and many other – questions are covered in this article, so without further ado, let’s dive in.
Let’s Talk About Rust
Rust is the common, “everyday” name for a compound known as iron oxide. This reddish-brown compound forms as a result of iron and oxygen reacting in the presence of water or air moisture.
It’s common due to the fact that iron combines very readily with oxygen – so readily, in fact, that pure iron is very rarely found in nature.
Iron rusting is an example of corrosion – an electrochemical process that involves:
- Anode: a piece of metal the gives up electrons
- Electrolyte: a liquid that helps electrons move
- Cathode: a piece of metal that accepts electrons
When a piece of iron corrodes, the electrolyte aids in yielding oxygen to the anode. As oxygen combines with metal, electrons are released. When they flow through the electrolyte towards the cathode, the metal anode vanishes – or it becomes covered in metal cations in the form of rust.
For corrosion to occur and for iron to become iron oxide, there are three things that are required – iron, oxygen, and water. When a drop of water hits iron, two things begin to happen.
Firstly, the water combines with carbon dioxide in the air to establish a weak carbonic bond, which is an even better electrolyte.
As the acid is created and the iron is dissolved, some of the water begins to break down into its component pieces – oxygen and hydrogen. The free oxygen and dissolved iron will bond into iron oxide.
The electrons that are released from the anode portion of the iron will flow towards the cathode – or any other point of that piece of iron.
The chemical compounds found in acid rain, seawater, and the like, make them better electrolytes than pure water. That, in turn, means that their presence will increase the speed of the rusting process of iron and other metals.
See Also: Can Acid Dissolve Or Melt Diamonds?
The Chemistry Of Diamonds
Firstly, we need to mention that diamonds are made of carbon atoms.
Diamonds are composed of repeating units of carbon atoms joined to four other carbon atoms through the strongest chemical bond – known as the covalent bonds.
Each carbon atom is in a hard tetrahedral network where it’s the nearest to its neighboring atoms. This network is extremely stable and rigid, which is why diamonds are so hard and have a high melting point.
That brings us to our next point: Diamonds oxidize at about 763 degrees Celsius. You see, oxygen is a part of our atmosphere, and substances go through the chemical reaction known as oxidation all around us.
But oxidation doesn’t equal rust.
While diamonds do oxidize, they don’t rust. Rust is an example of the oxidation that occurs when iron reacts with oxygen in the presence of water.
Plus, there’s that whole thing of iron being structurally and chemically very different from diamond.
Why Do Diamonds Look Stained?
There are two reasons your diamond may be looking stained or dirty:
Its surface could have accumulated dirt particles, or it could have plenty of minor natural flaws inside called inclusions that “spoil” its appearance.
It’s relatively easy for dirt to accumulate on the surface of a diamond, even more so if it wasn’t cleaned recently.
Oil residue and other grime your hands pick up throughout the day can contribute to the dirt sticking to your diamond whenever you touch it. Often the dirt and grime on the diamond form a thin layer that blocks light from entering the stone, thus making it appear dark and grimy.
Sometimes diamonds aren’t dirty but rather look that way due to their inclusions. That’s the case with diamonds that have many carbon spots inside.
To find out whether your diamond looks dirty because of its inclusions, it’s best to clean it properly and see if it still looks stained.
The key word here is “look.” If you’re worried about staining your gem – as in, changing its color by accident – know that its atomic structure determines its color. And since you can’t change a gemstone’s chemical makeup, you can’t change its color, either.
But: Diamonds are very lipophilic, meaning oil and grease build up on their surface pretty easily. That’s why it’s so crucial to learn how to clean your diamond at home.
Ironically enough, the quality that makes diamonds so gorgeous – their scintillating color and brilliance – is incredibly difficult to maintain by their very nature.
You shouldn’t shy away from wearing your diamonds every day; beautiful jewelry is meant to be showcased. However, constant wear can expose your gemstone to all the grubby substances your hands may come across throughout the day.
Personal care products, like lotions, food residue, harsh cleaning products – and more – all play their part in making your diamond look stained.
So, it’s not a matter of if your diamond will get dirty – but rather when will it get dirty.
Know When To Take Your Diamond Ring Off
Diamond jewelry isn’t indestructible – and neither is its appearance. One of the simplest ways to keep your diamond clean – aside from actually cleaning it, of course – is to know when to take it off.
It’s fine to keep your diamond jewelry on in many cases, such as washing your hands, spending a typical workday in the office, and running a few errands around the town.
Still, there are plenty of situations where wearing your diamond ring will needlessly put its beauty at risk.
For instance, you most likely don’t need to wear your diamond ring when preparing meals that require a lot of hands-on action and manual mixing.
Even though food residue won’t necessarily damage your diamond jewelry, it will accumulate over time, thus making your diamond cleaning more time-consuming.
Similarly, scrubbing away in your kitchen or bathroom with your diamond jewelry on – especially if you’re not wearing protective gloves – should be avoided.
The chemicals found in household products like bleach or window cleaner could come in contact with your diamond ring. As a result, you could get a negative reaction to the precious metals surrounding it.
Additionally, it’s not such a great idea to swim in a pool with your diamond ring on – and here’s why: The chlorine – and other chemicals – in pool water could dull or discolor your diamond ring’s precious metal.
Last but not least, playing sports or lifting weights while having your diamond jewelry on should be avoided – but not because of staining.
Handheld objects can chip your diamond. Even more so, engaging in recreational activities outside also increases the chances of misplacing your diamond ring.
How to avoid all of this? When in doubt, put your diamond ring in a jewelry box.
How To Clean Your Diamond Ring At Home
If cosmetics like hairspray, lotion, makeup, or perfume, did a number on your diamond, making it appear stained, a simple at-home cleaning can bring back its sparkle.
The best way to clean these gems is to make a solution with warm water and dishwashing soap. Soak your diamond ring for about 30 minutes. After that, gently brush the gemstone with a very soft toothbrush.
When you’re done brushing, rinse your ring under warm running water.
In addition to dishwashing soap, you can also use a body wash or shampoo. It doesn’t matter what you choose as your diamond ring cleaner – as long as you avoid products that are moisturizing.
Why? Well, moisturizing products tend to leave a thin film on the ring, which is exactly what you want to avoid here. As for drying off your diamond ring, avoid using paper towels as they can scratch the metal of your ring. Instead, use a soft cotton cloth – or let your diamond ring air dry.
Read Also: Can Soap Ruin A Diamond?
How Often Should You Clean Your Diamond Ring?
To keep your diamond ring looking its best, try to clean it once a week. That should be enough to hold everyday dirt and oils at bay. However, we advise you to take your diamond ring to get cleaned by a professional jeweler twice a year.
You can do this even more often if your diamond ring has been exposed to a high level of dirt. For example, if you’re an active outdoors person or work in the kitchen, and there’s a hard layer of grime build-up, it’s best to get it cleaned by a professional jeweler.
They’ll restore the brilliance of the diamond safely. Of course, you can get away with less frequent cleanings by taking your diamond ring off during activities that may dirty it – or even damage it. But we covered that already.
Insuring Your Diamond Ring
No, your diamond won’t rust. And no, it won’t get stained. But due to everything we talked about, you might still want to insure it. When it comes to insuring your diamond ring, you have two options.
If you have homeowner insurance, you can purchase an extension that covers your diamond ring specifically. But keep in mind that a jewelry claim filed against your homeowner’s policy could potentially affect your entire policy.
So, if your diamond ring ever gets lost, stolen, or damaged, your premium could go up. Also, your eligibility for the entire homeowner’s policy could potentially be affected at renewal.
On the other hand, if you don’t have homeowners insurance, you can take out a policy through an independent agency specializing in jewelry insurance. Agencies like these are worth looking into if your current insurance provider doesn’t offer the specific coverage that you might require.
Most of the homeowner’s insurance policies cover jewelry to some extent. However, in most cases, coverage is limited by a range of factors, including requirements to use jewelry replacement companies, coverage value limits, and the situations covered.
Call your homeowner’s insurance and get all the information regarding your jewelry coverage. You should never assume you’re covered.
Getting An Appraisal
You can’t protect the value of your diamond ring if you don’t know how much it is worth. An appraisal will include all the key elements of value, such as carat weight, color, cut, clarity, and the number of diamonds in the ring.
Most insurance companies will need an appraisal for higher value pieces, while an invoice or receipt is more than enough for less expensive items.
The easiest way to ensure a proper appraisal is to do so at the same time you buy your diamond ring. It assures you that the latest market prices are reflected and that definite characteristics are accounted for when it comes to your gem.
Related Read: Diamond Appraisal Vs. Diamond Certification
Getting Diamond Certificate Or Grading Report
Suppose your diamond is around half a carat or larger. In that case, your jeweler will – or should – provide a diamond certificate or grading report from a gemological laboratory such as the Gemological Institute of America. This organization is the one that also developed the 4 C’s used to assess diamonds – cut, color, carat, and clarity.
This evaluation of quality lists all of the measurements your appraiser will require to make the most accurate determination of your diamond’s value. Plus, this detailed information can help to track down your diamond if it ever gets stolen.
“Can diamonds get rusty or stained?” is such a strange question to answer when you think about it. But we appreciate your curiosity and willingness to learn more about your favorite gem. With that said, let’s sum it up:
Rust, also known as iron oxide, is an example of the oxidation of iron in the presence of moisture. The last time we checked, diamonds are made of carbon, not iron. And that means that they can’t rust.
They can oxidize, yes. But diamonds oxidation is quite different from iron oxidation – which we all know as rust – so, again: No, diamonds can’t get rusty.
When it comes to stains, diamonds can look stained from the dirt, grime, and oils accumulated during regular wear. Still, you can’t change its chemical makeup, meaning you can’t stain it permanently.
Be sure to clean your diamond routinely so that it keeps its gorgeous shine, though.
You can minimize the number of cleaning by removing your diamond while working on something that requires your hands. That way, your diamond ring won’t get as dirty. Plus, you’ll also be lowering the risk of your diamond being damaged.