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Despite their astonishing durability, diamonds are not indestructible. Hard blows can chip these stones, so removing them before any manual labor is a good idea. Diamonds can also damage each other; to prevent this, store them individually in fabric-lined compartments or cloth pouches. If this isn't possible - when traveling, e.g. - wrap each piece in tissue paper for protection.

More difficult than preserving the stone is sustaining its sparkle. Diamonds naturally attract oils from the skin, lotions and cooking products, all of which diminish their dazzle. Accumulation of everyday elements such as perspiration, powder, cleaners, cosmetics, soap or hairspray also dull a diamond's finish.

Fortunately, most of this damage can be undone simply and inexpensively. For a time-efficient cleaning, soak the jewelry overnight in warm water and dishwashing liquid. For a tougher job, use a 6:1 water and ammonia solution, or a commercial jewelry cleaner. After soaking, use a soft brush (too abrasive a brush can scratch precious metal settings) to remove crusted build-up; a toothpick or unwaxed dental floss may help with stubborn dirt. Rinse and dry with a non-abrasive cloth. Your reward for this small effort? Beautifully restored refraction.

Of course, the worst risk to any mounted stone is loss. Though it's wise to remove rings for heavy work that could loosen settings, resist removing them for every hand washing, especially if away from home. Rings can easily slip down drains, or be forgotten on sink rims. As a preventive measure, have your jeweler inspect mountings for loose or damaged prongs every six months to a year. While there, treat your diamonds to a steam or ultrasonic clean; your diamonds will look brand-new brilliant!