What Is Stainless Steel Jewellery?
Stainless steel jewellery is any jewellery made from stainless steel. Stainless steel is an alloy that contains at least 10.5% chromium. It consists of iron, chromium, nickel, silicon, manganese, nitrogen and carbon and is corrosion resistant. The chromium in stainless steel gives it it’s corrosion-resistant properties which is why it is commonly used in jewellery. The chromium forms an invisible layer on top of the stainless steel which increases it’s durability and prevents oxygen from reacting with the materials and forming rust. In general stainless steel is very durable and has an expensive look, mimicking the look of previous metal. Because of it’s high melting points, durability and strength stainless steel makes for a great material for jewellery.
Different types of stainless steel can be used for jewellery including austenitic, ferritic, duplex and martensitic.
Austenitic stainless steel contains higher levels of chromium, molybdenum and nickel. It is known for it’s excellent strength and malleability whilst still offering affordability.
Ferritic stainless steel contains 10.5% - 30% chromium and has a lower carbon composition (no more than 0.1%). This type of stainless steel is magnetic and is highly resistant to temperature oxidation and stress corrosion cracking.
Duplex stainless steel is a combination of austenitic and fferritic and results in a metal that is stronger than both. This stainless steel is more lightweight than the two previously mentioned but has an even better corrosion resistance.
Martensitic stainless steel is similar to ferritic stainless steel however has a higher carbon content.
These can be further divided into various grades, with the most popular for jewellery being the 300 and 400 series stainless steel.
301 stainless steel is the most common form of stainless steel used around the world due to corrosion resistant properties and value of the material. This type of stainless steel consists of 16-24% chromium, 35% nickel and as well carbon and manganese. It can withstand the corrosion of most oxidizing acids and the durability makes it easier to sanitize. One downside of this stainless steel is that it is more susceptible to corrosion from chloride or saline environments such as sea water. Chloride ions can create areas of corrosion that can spread beneath chromium barriers.
316 stainless steel is similar to 304 stainless steel however 316 stainless steel has molybdenum and 304 stainless steel does not. This gives 316 stainless steel greater corrosion resistance in particular against chloride and saline environments.
Is Stainless Steel Jewellery Any Good? (Pros and Cons)
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- Highly durable metal - makes for great daily use. The metal itself is hard and resistant to scratches and corrosion due to chromium layer which prevents oxidation.
- Affordable - in comparison to previous metals such as gold, silver or bronze stainless steel is much cheaper.
- Easy to clean - stainless steel jewellery doesn’t require any special cleaning solution. All you’ll need is warm water, dishwashing soap and a microfibre cloth to clean off dirt and grime.
- Great for any occasion - can be worn for any occasion or with any outfit and still looks like an expensive precious metal.
- Lightweight and hypoallergenic - it is light and great for pendants and rings. Comfortable to wear for long periods of time and is hypoallergenic so ideal for those with sensitive skin.
- Environmentally friendly - stainless steel is one of the more ecologically friendly metals used in jewellery making. Energy and waste production is a lot less than other metals and stainless steel is also 100% recyclable.
- Ages well - stainless steel is a highly durable metal that is resistant to scratches, heat and corrosion. Won’t show sings of wear and tear and all it takes is a light clean to restore it’s shine and luster.
- Rigidity - stainless steel can be too rigid of a material to get complicated or intricate designs for jewellery in comparison to more malleable silver or gold materials
- Allergies - stainless steel can contain small amounts of nickel which some people are allergic to.
- Maintenance - after a long period of time in comparison to other metals will require more re-polishing in comparison to other metals.
- Prone to damage - even though stainless steel is highly durable, with enough pressure with heavy weight or sharp objects it can dent over time. Can also be damaged if exposed to rough surfaces regularly.
- Damage to chlorine - depending on the type of stainless steel it will be vulnerable to damage by chlorine. Swimming with stainless steel jewellery in a swimming pool should be avoided unless it is 304 or 315 stainless steel as it can get corroded.
Does Stainless Steel Jewellery Change Colour?
Stainless steel jewellery will not change colour and tarnish due to the layer of chromium present which prevents oxidation. Your stainless steel jewellery should always remain silver with a warmish grey look.
Does Stainless Steel Jewellery Go Green?
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In general stainless steel jewellery does not tarnish in any way and will not turn your skin green when wearing for long periods of time. If your stainless steel jewellery is made from low-quality materials or combined with other elements and alloys then it has a chance of making your skin green, however high quality and true stainless steel will never turn your skin green.
The reason for some jewellery turning skin green is a chemical reaction between metal content often brass, nickel or copper reacting with your bodily fluids and oxygen in the air. This is known as oxidation and is the reason for discolouration of the skin.
How To Clean Stainless Steel Jewellery?
Cleaning your stainless steel jewellery is essential to restore its shine and luster of it after wearing it for extended periods of time. Below are some ways of cleaning it.
Soap and Water:
Simply get a bowl of warm water and mix in dishwashing soap and let the jelelery soak into the bowl for 5-10 minutes. After this take a soft cloth or microfibre cloth and gently rub off any dirt off the jewellery. For harder to reach areas use a cotton bud. Once your stainless steel jewellery is clean you’ll want to dry your jewellery with a paper towel. The benefit of this method if that dishwashing soap is readily available in most households and is cheap. This method may not be suitable if you are looking to clean extremely stubborn dirt.
Baking Soda and Water:
Simply mix baking soda with water to create a thick white paste. With a toothbrush dip into the baking soda and water solution and gently clean the jewellery. Once done rinse the stainless steel jewellery and dry it with paper towels. The benefit of using baking soda is that it is great for getting rid of stubborn dirt easily and can even act as a polisher or deodorizer. We recommend not doing this if your jewellery has gemstones as it can cause them to loosen or can cause scratches.
For this method you’ll want to get a toothpaste that doesnt utilise silica. Get the corner of a soft microfibre towel and slightly dampen it with warm water then squeeze a bit of toothpaste on it. Rub the cloth across the surface of the stainless steel jewellery and make use of a toothbrush or cotton bud to rub hard to get areas. Rinse the jewellery with warm water once finished cleaning and pat dry with a paper towel. The benefit of using toothpast is the is is that is often readily available at home, it is inexpensive and can even act as a polishing agent. We dont recommend using toothpaste on jewellery that has gemstones as it can loose or scratc them.
Combine vinegar in a bowl of water and subemrge the stainless steel jewellery piece for 10-15 minutes. Dip a cloth into the mixture and spot clean the jewellery after. Then take a dry cloth to dry the jewellery, rine is under running water and then take a paper towel to dry it off.
Jewellery cleaning kit:
A great option for cleaning stainless steel jewellery pieces that are worn on a daily basis to restore the shine and brilliance. Before buying one check what metal and type of stainless steel it is suitable for and if it can be used with gemstone pieces.
Ultrasonic cleaners use ultrasonic waves travelling through water to help dislodge dirt particles from your stainless steel jewellery. They can be used to clean multiple piece sof jewellery. This is the easiest method mentions and wrorks with just a click of a button.
Professional cleaning by jeweler:
This is the best method if you want to save yourself time and have no interest in purchasing a cleaning kit or using an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner. The jeweler will be able to have a look at your stainless steel jewellery and determine the best method for restoring shine and brilliance. Some methods they may utilise is specialised ultrasonic cleaners, steam blasting and more. Getting your jewellery professionally cleaned often produces better results and prevents unnecessary damage to metals or gemstones.
Now you know all that you need to know about stainless steel jewellery, you can also learn more at our blog about specifically stainless steel chains.