Losing a stone from a sentimental ring can be devastating.
Carri McDonald's husband of almost 32 years walked off his tree-planting job in British Columbia to propose to McDonald. The couple had been dating for three years at the time.
"My husband wasn't making a salary then, so when he decided he was going to propose to me, he took all the money he had ... and he made this decision one day out on a tree-planting block that he was going to ask me to marry him," McDonald says.
A 24-year-old student with only about $600 to his name, McDonald's husband used that money to buy an engagement ring before "freeloading" his way back to Manitoba to propose.
"It is special to me even though it's not a big, fancy diamond," McDonald says.
McDonald says she noticed the quarter-carat solitaire stone missing from her gold engagement band just before a manicure appointment a couple of weeks ago.
When she was at the appointment, McDonald's manicurist noticed the missing stone and told her it could be because of hand sanitizer.
Thankfully, McDonald was able to recover her diamond -- found one evening between her couch cushions -- before having to make an insurance claim to replace it.
Amanda Janzen also recently noticed the stone in her engagement ring was missing.
The ring, a 22-year-old white gold band with a .4 carat solitaire diamond and surrounding smaller stones, was given to her when her now-husband, Matt Janzen, proposed.
"Amanda's had it ever since," Matt chuckles. "She did (say yes), first time."
The couple was in their early twenties and had been dating for five years when they got engaged.
"I was shocked," Amanda says about losing her ring. "You just kind of take it for granted that it's there."
Both Matt and Amanda are saddened to have lost the meaningful stone. Unfortunately, the couple hasn't yet been able to locate it.
COVID-19 strikes again?
With increased handwashing and frequent sanitizing due to COVID-19, rumours have been circulating that this is causing diamonds and other stones in rings to slip from their settings.
"It's simply untrue," says Watson Workshop custom goldsmith John Watson.
Watson says there are a few reasons for losing stones from a ring, but hand sanitizer isn't one of them.
"I work with this product day-in and day-out and we manufacture and repair jewelry," says Watson, who has spent more than 20 years in the jewelry business, working with a vast variety of metals and stones.
Watson's father, Roger Watson, started Roger Watson Jewellers in Winnipeg more than 40 years ago.
"I've been around it my entire life," Watson says. "It is impossible for hand sanitizer to take stones out of your ring."
The action of rubbing your hands together and thus bumping different jewellery pieces together, however, could negatively impact your rings.
"That can potentially damage stones, that could potentially bend some of the claws that are holding stones if they're not set properly. In turn, that physical damage can result in loss of stones but hand sanitizer itself will have zero effect on the metal or the gemstones that are in there."
Physical damage and poor setting techniques are the main reasons behind losing a ring's stone.
Claims that hand sanitizer can dull your ring or erode the setting are also untrue, according to Watson.
"(Hand sanitizer) is going to coat it, and that coating action would be akin to smearing vaseline on a window -- there's no effect to the window other than you've dirtied it."
For a chemical or substance to be damaging to a ring as these claims imply, Watson says the wearer's hands would also be damaged.
"That's the biggest bunch of nonsense I've ever heard," Watson says firmly. "Stones just don't come out of rings for no reason."
Further, Watson says he hasn't seen or heard of any increase in rings losing their stones during the pandemic.
The age of a ring is a factor that might be worth considering, Watson says, if you've recently lost a stone.
"An average wear for claws on your jewelry is anywhere from five to 10 years," says Watson. "How you're wearing your jewelry will affect that greatly.
"It's more about wear and tear than anything."