If your left hand has suddenly become a lot more sparkly all of a sudden, then congrats—you must be the proud new owner of an engagement ring! Your excitement and pride in your new piece of jewelry is understandable, not only because it’s undoubtedly beautiful, but because it represents a pretty huge investment both financially and emotionally. To make sure invest back in your sparkler’s looks and longevity, it’s important to treat it carefully to prevent loss, damage, or unnecessary wear and tear. Here are our expert tips for how to care for your engagement ring.

Get Your Engagement Ring Insured

You want your ring to last for generations, so insure it as soon as you can. You can either add a rider to your existing homeowner’s or renter’s policy, or purchase a separate policy through a jewelry insurance company. It’s a good idea to get your ring appraised every few years, as its valuation will go up over time—be sure the replacement cost outlined in your policy actually matches what your ring is worth.

Don’t Take It Off in Public

While it might be tempting to remove your new bling every time you wash your hands, try to resist the urge when you’re in a public restroom. It’s too easy to forget and orphan your rings on the sink countertop, or worse, accidentally drop them down the drain.

Remove Your Engagement Ring Occasionally

That being said, there are certain occasions when you should take off your engagement ring. Everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, or showering can expose your ring to buildup and grime (think oils, grease, lotions, and makeup) that can cloud your rock’s gleam and/or dull your metal. Activities like gardening, exercising, and swimming are also good times to safely store your ring—cold water can shrink your fingers and make it easier for your ring to accidentally slip off, while exercise or heavy lifting can put extra strain on its settings.

Store It Safely

When you do take off that precious item, be sure to have a dedicated spot (or two) to store it for safekeeping. Keep a few of these ring storage ideas around your house in high-use areas like your kitchen, your bathroom, and your bedside table:

  • A ring dish
  • A ring box with a soft interior
  • A soft jewelry pouch If you do have to drop your ring on the fly, avoid ledges or counters (particularly near sinks). Opt for a drawer or a closed space that you can easily remember.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Along similar lines, be sure to protect your ring from chemicals and other harsh substances. Take off your ring (or wear gloves) when doing things like cleaning with abrasive cleansers, painting, or doing any other home remodel or DIY projects. Chemicals and abrasive solutions can erode metal, dull finishes, and even damage porous colored gemstones such as emerald.

Clean Your Engagement Ring Regularly

While jewelry experts recommend professionally steam cleaning your ring a few times a year (many shops will even do this for you for free, or at a small charge), you can keep your precious jewels sparkly in between pro cleanings by following these steps:

  1. Submerge your ring in a cup of warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap.
  2. Let it rest for a few minutes, up to overnight.
  3. Scrub it gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  4. Submerge or rinse it in clean water. Don’t forget to cover the drain!
  5. Dry it gently with a soft cloth that won’t snag prongs.

Keep The Diamonds Protected

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they don’t always play well with others. Since they are nature’s hardest material, diamonds might scratch other gemstones or metals, so keep diamond rings stored separately from other jewelry. Yet diamonds are far from impervious, so protect them from chips or cracks by making sure you don’t knock them against other hard surfaces.

Schedule Yearly Engagement Ring Maintenance

Jewelry experts agree that regular maintenance is as critical for the long-term health of your engagement ring as dentist’s visits are for your teeth. Take your heirloom to the jeweler once or twice a year to have it checked for loose prongs, which can lead to chipped, loose—or worse, missing—stones.