Rashes and repairs

6th July 2018

Today I want to discuss two common issues I see with rings in particular, the causes and some possible solutions.  If you never or rarely take your rings off then you should read this.

The two owners of these rings have the following in common:

  1. they rarely took their rings off

  2. they showered and slept with their rings on

  3. they had not had their rings checked and cleaned in the last 1 to 2 years

The ring minus the gem

The ring minus the gem

The Repair

I stopped doing repairs on jewellery I did not make years ago. The only exception I make is for customers that have been with me since before 2013.  

This longtime customer did not purchase this ring from me. Having been with me for over 10 years she brought it to me for repair after the gem had fallen out.

The last time I saw or cleaned this ring was over 6 years ago. A ring of this height will cause the top of the ring to hit and rub far more than a low profile one. This will lead to wear on the claws and they should be checked every one to two years, especially if you never take it off.

Also a suspended 4 claw setting only needs one claw to go missing and the gem is gone, as has happened here.  With a 6 claw setting the gem might still be secure with one missing. 

The Solution

We totally rebuilt the setting and of course had to replace the gem. Whilst doing that we lowered the height of the setting by 1mm to reduce the exposure of the claws to rubbing and catching a little.

We also added an under-rail to the main gem for added support to the 4 claws.  You can read more about this ring and other slight changes we made at this page.

The ring 5 years ago

The ring 5 years ago

The rash

We have already established that both these ladies rarely if ever took their rings off.  I made this ring for the second customer 5 years ago. Since then I had seen it only once for a clean.

When worn alone the wide Russian wedding ring caused no issues but when worn next to her engagement ring she would sometimes get a rash.

When you never take your rings off nor have them cleaned those little holes for the gems and other gaps fill up with all sorts of things.  If you then fill them with water that water becomes mixed with whatever is in there. Use your imagination.

Problems can occur when you shower and then also sleep with your rings on. Especially if your ring/rings are wide and tight, water will be trapped in your ring and drip or sits on your finger making your skin soft. That dirty water soaks in.

Think of it like this........ you have your shower with dirty underwear on and then go to bed with it still on ...day in and day out never cleaning or removing the underwear, just wetting it in the shower.  You would get a rash rather quickly I would guess.

Summer heat and sweat can also cause issues as your hands are usually bigger and your rings tighter fitting.

20 minutes in the cleaner and still coming out. Think of this next time you watch a cooking show and they are mixing food with their hands and have their rings on.

20 minutes in the cleaner and still coming out. Think of this next time you watch a cooking show and they are mixing food with their hands and have their rings on.

The photo above shows what usually comes out of a ring when it has not been cleaned for years. It is not about some people being dirtier than others.  Every time you wash your hands more than likely some of what you wanted to wash away remains in a ring like this and many other designs.

Another real life example

Rings that came in to be remade

Rings that came in to be remade

I made the above rings a couple of years ago. For a few reasons we needed to remake them to a larger finger size. This is a great chance to show you how dirty rings that appear clean can be.

Her half carat diamond unset.

Her half carat diamond unset.

I cleaned her engagement ring for about 30 minutes in my ultrasonic cleaner before I unset it. You can see that it is still dirty. The more often you clean your rings the less chance the things that are building up in your rings can harden.

Some of the diamonds from the wedding ring unset.

Some of the diamonds from the wedding ring unset.

Next I unset her wedding ring which with all the little diamond setting holes on the inside had filled up with “life”.

Some moister added to those dirty diamonds.

Some moister added to those dirty diamonds.

What I did next was soak those diamonds in some water to show you how that build up changes when you add water……. just like it does when you shower, bath and swim with your rings on. Try to imagine the above rubbing or dripping from your ring onto the wet skin of your finger.

Rash Solution  

The first thing is to have your rings properly cleaned regularly. Customers of mine know that I offer this service for free for any piece I have made. You simply need to make an appointment to have it done. If you purchased jewellery from elsewhere take it back to them for cleaning.

After that you should consider taking them off when you shower or at least remove them after the shower so that both your hand and ring can dry out. 

The final thing is to make sure that your rings are not so tight, especially wide rings, that your skin cannot breathe.


The biggest issue for both these women is that they never took their jewellery off and that shortens the life of the jewellery and can also causes other issues like the rash.

Both these ladies have told me that from know they are making the following changes to the wearing of their rings:

  1. If they do not need to have them on and can safely take them off, they will

  2. no longer shower and sleep with their rings on

  3. have their rings cleaned and checked at least every 1-2 years

Think of your favourite going out dress ladies.  If you loved that dress so much that you wore it to work, at home and in the garden how long would you expect it to remain a dress you would want to wear out. Ask yourself if your jewellery really needs to be on all the time?

InfoDavid Taylor