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If you’ve got one, it’s probably your most expensive piece of jewelry: That gleaming stone that says “I do” (or “I did”), that shimmering token of commitment you rarely take off, that bijou that cost some major coin—your engagement ring. Considering the average couple spent close to $4,000 on engagement rings in 2020, it’s not an investment to take lightly. Our rings are particularly vulnerable when we travel, when we’re more likely to engage in outdoor activities that aren’t a part of our normal routine.
Here are some of the best ways you can protect your prized possession while traipsing to foreign (at least to you) lands.
Insure your ring
Fine jewelry can and should be insured against loss or damage, just like your home or car. According to Brides, you can expect to pay an average $1 to $3 per year for every $100 your ring is worth. (So, $100-$300 annually for a $10,000 rock.) In addition to Jewelers Mutual, there are other insurance providers to choose from, based on ring value and your specific coverage needs. You can also consider adding your ring to your current homeowners or renters insurance with a scheduled property endorsement or personal articles endorsement, since the full value probably isn’t covered by default.
Have it inspected
For extra peace of mind, take it to a trusted fine jewelry store for a pre-trip inspection. Under magnification, a trained jeweler can check for things like loose stones, bent prongs in the setting, cracks, chips, and weak spots—and perform any necessary tightening or related fixes prior to your departure.
Never wear it in the ocean or pool
Oops, I’ve done this. Kind of a lot. Like during every vacation over the past ten years. Don’t be clueless like me (who apparently has been lucky, because wait until you hear all the ways your ring can get wrecked.)
The typical vacation is rife with activities that can cause loss or damage to your ring. Not only does cold water cause fingers to shrink—making it easier for your jewel to slip off and down onto the sandy ocean floor—but pool chlorine can discolor metals like gold, sliver, and lower-quality platinum. Sand is abrasive to softer gemstones like amethyst and can leave scratch marks in your metal band; it can also get lodged between your diamond and setting, loosening the stones. Sea salt is especially damaging to rose gold, due to its copper content. Sunscreen and bug spray can get caught in the prongs and make the stone look dingy. (Based on experience, an old soft toothbrush, a bit of hand soap, and warm water work wonders to brighten a cloudy-looking ring when professional cleaning isn’t available—just stop up the drain before you start scrubbing.)
Wear only your wedding band
While it’s not as much fun as blinging out while sipping on that mai-tai, consider wearing your wedding band solo while on vacation. You’ll still have a little something that says “I’m taken,” but at a much lower price point. (You could also take the opportunity to play with stackable rings so you still have some substantial glitz to go with that vacay manicure.)
Get a “vacation ring”
If you don’t feel like locking your most precious bauble up in a safe every time you hit the beach or apply sunscreen (or having that “naked finger” feeling that could invite unwanted attention), purchase an inexpensive engagement ring (like this cubic zirconia for $20), worn specifically for travel. Have fun to trying a new look for a week—but be mindful not to get a stone too large, lest you attract the lurking eyes of pickpockets and store owners who will take any chance to inflate prices for a rich-looking tourist. (Men can do this too, by purchasing a silicone ring; these run around $40.)
Whatever you choose, resist the temptation to treat your ring like an everyday object simply because you wear it every day.
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