Think your wedding ring is safe? Most people do. I mean, it’s attached to their finger, and the safest place for your ring is on your finger. But that’s not always the case.

Fine jeweler Laura Preshong notes that 25 percent of women will lose their engagement ring over the course of their lives. Many people think you don’t need to buy ring insurance. Maybe this will convince you otherwise.

The first time I saw an engagement ring lost, I was out horseback riding with my mother. Horseback riding, like many rough sports, is a no-no with your wedding and engagement rings. But my mother didn’t think of that, and I was twelve, so neither did I. She had a marquise-cut diamond, smallish, held in place with four prongs. Near the end of the ride, she looked down, only to find that the prongs on the diamond had bent — and the stone had fallen out. We scoured the trail. We scoured the side of the trail. We picked through some rocks on the edges of the trail. We never found the stone. My mother went without an engagement ring for some time until my father had to pay to have it replaced. They didn’t have insurance. 

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson. But I didn’t. We bought our rings on the internet, and made a mistake: we didn’t immediately take them to a local jeweler. I was typing a paper for graduate school when I looked down and noticed that I was looking down at an empty ring: my sapphire had disappeared from its prongs. We tore the house apart.

Eventually, we discovered the gem right where it had fallen: under the computer desk. I felt like someone from Lord of the Rings holding that sapphire in my hand. We took it immediately to a local jeweler, had it reset, and the prongs both lengthened and tightened. Insurance helped pay for that. 

[Read all of our tips for securing your engagement and wedding rings here.]

Insurance also helped pay for the time I lost one of my tiny auxiliary diamonds from the top of my heirloom ring. I suppose that after decades, it just wasn’t in there very tightly. I looked down in the middle of a graduate class, admiring it, only to see that it was not longer intact. I almost cried. We had to have the diamond replaced, the platinum work on the side redone, and it wasn’t cheap. Again: insurance helped pick up the tab. 

Next, my husband committed one of the cardinal sins of wedding rings: wearing it out in cold during moderately strenuous activity. In this case, he was setting up Christmas lights. Later in the evening, he noticed that his actual wedding ring, the one we had made in Ireland to commemorate our first international trip together, had gone missing. It took two hours, several flashlights, and multiple people to find it hidden in the tall grass. He had suffered vasoconstriction, shrinking his finger, and it had slipped off without his knowing it. We got the ring resized. 

And don’t think you’re immune to losing fine jewelry while traveling. You’re supposed to take off your rings every night when you sleep? I kept mine on, but I took off my vintage, expensive, oh-so-impossible to find LaLique earrings. I set them in what used to be the room’s ashtray, and now served no purpose I could figure, except as a jewelry bowl. We left the hotel without them. Of course, when we called back frantically, with me in tears, to see if anyone had found them, they were gone for good. Be careful with your rings when you travel. Always know where they are, and put them in the same place you always put them at home — in fact, carry that storage device with you, be it a pouch or a ring holder. If I had dropped my earrings into the well of my ring holder, I’d have never left them. 

[Check out our tips for transporting valuables.]

A good family friend also lost a ring when she was first married. She was doing the dishes, and did what you’re supposed to do: she took the ring off. Except she set the ring above the sink. She figures it must have gone down the garbage disposal. Her husband tore the plumbing apart, but to no avail. They didn’t have insurance, and decades later, she’s never gotten another one. This is why you always put your ring in the same safe spot when you remove it. 

None of these scenarios involves overt negligence. None of them involved anything any of us probably wouldn’t have done at one time or another. But they show the importance of taking care of your ring with a reputable jeweler: getting it tightened, getting it checked out.

They also show the importance of keeping jewelry in the same safe place, even when you travel. But most of all, they show the importance of insurance. You can afford to pay a few extra bucks to insure some jewelry. You may not be able to replace your jewelry. And with something so precious, you want to keep it — ’til death do you part.

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