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While diamonds are the hardest minerals, they still require some care to keep them looking their best and to protect them from loss or damage.

A regular professional cleaning is recommended. Diamond jewelry can easily acquire a buildup of dirt, makeup and other materials that diminish its brightness, especially if it's worn every day. Many jewelers, including Zales, offer professional cleaning. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners if your diamond has a serious crack or inclusion. The vibrations of these cleaners can enlarge such flaws.

What could possibly scratch a diamond? Another diamond. To prevent such scratches, separate diamond jewelry in your jewelry box. Diamonds also can scratch other gems or jewelry, especially soft items like pearls. And even though diamonds are hard, they can be brittle, especially along thin edges. Try not to wear your diamond when it might be struck sharply, and if you have an especially thin cut, keep it protected.

Perhaps even more distressing than chipping a diamond is losing one. When you go in for cleaning, ask the jeweler to check the setting and make sure the stone is secure. If it seems loose, bring it in for repair immediately. Also avoid setting diamonds in very soft metals like 24k gold, which bends easily.