Most people who want a beautiful white ring choose platinum or white gold. Sterling silver is a popular and cheaper option too.
But you should consider stainless steel for certain jewelry because it has a lot more benefits than its low cost.
If you look at the stainless steel jewelry pros and cons, you'll realize it's like a precious metal at an affordable rate.
Stainless Steel Jewelry Pros And Cons
The pros and cons of stainless steel rings and wedding bands make it one of the top choices today. It's cheap, durable, and low-maintenance compared to other metals. Sadly it doesn't come in many styles and it's hard to resize because it's so tough.
Stainless steel pros
Some people enjoy wearing stainless steel because you don't need to do much once you start wearing the jewelry. It's a very low-maintenance metal compared to gold.
There are probably 3 reasons why it's so low-maintenance:
- No superficial damage
- No rhodium plating
- It's easy to clean
No superficial damage
Stainless steel jewelry is scratch-resistant so you won't end up with unsightly marks all over your rings. You don't have to worry about it rubbing against anything sharp.
When you scratch gold it sticks to the surface it brushes against and you lose more and more of the metal as time goes on, but you won't lose any stainless steel.
It's not going to become thinner because it's corrosion-proof. It won't tarnish, rust, or turn your finger green thanks to added chromium and molybdenum.
No rhodium plating
Stainless steel comes in a natural white color like platinum. White gold looks so shiny and white because it has a rhodium plating.
Even though rhodium plating isn't necessarily a bad thing it's not considered low-maintenance because it needs to be replaced regularly.
You won't be required to visit the jeweler every 6-24 months for a fresh coating of rhodium if you own stainless steel, which saves you lots of time and money.
It's easy to clean
Some metals require a special cleaning solution to ensure you don't damage the metal when you're cleaning it which isn't very convenient.
The only things you need to clean stainless steel jewelry are soap and warm water. Throw in a little elbow grease and you'll be done fast.
Stainless steel jewelry is a good metal to wear every day thanks to several special qualities, so comfort is a must.
It feels pretty good to wear stainless steel on your finger because it's so lightweight. Depending on the size of the band you'll forget it's there.
Certain stainless steel jewelry is also hypoallergenic so you won't end up with a rash on your finger because you're allergic to nickel.
I'm only talking about 316L stainless steel because it's the most popular kind you'll find in jewelry stores.
316L stainless steel does contain 10% nickel, but it also contains chromium and molybdenum. It's effectively a protective barrier to stop nickel from reaching your skin.
It's easy to assume stainless steel doesn't look good because it's so cheap, but it looks as good as precious metals like silver and platinum.
Stainless steel stays shiny and bright for a long time once you start wearing it. The metal looks good during formal and casual occasions.
Nobody will be able to tell you're wearing a stainless steel ring, especially if you choose one with an eye-catching design.
Jewelers will be able to cut off your stainless steel ring in an emergency and it won't cost you a lot of money to cut off.
It won't require any special tools. You'll be able to get in cut off in fire stations and emergency rooms too.
Another good safety factor is the fact stainless steel is a poor conductor of electricity. Are you worried the metal isn't good when it comes to electric shocks?
It only conducts around 16 volts (gold is 310 volts and silver is 429 volts in case you want something to compare it to).
Environmentally-friendly jewelry is a big attraction these days. It's tough to guarantee metals are mined in ethical ways because they could come from anywhere.
But stainless steel jewelry has a few ethical selling points:
- Energy used
- Waste produced
- 100% recyclable
Less energy is used to create stainless steel versus other metals, plus it also produces less waste. And stainless steel jewelry is 100% recyclable.
The biggest reason why stainless steel rings are so popular these days is the price. If you can't afford gold or platinum it's a great alternative.
If you like to wear different styles and designs depending on the occasion you'll be able to afford more rings.
It helps that stainless steel is so similar in looks to silver, gold, and platinum rings. You'll be the only one who knows how cheap it is.
Stainless steel cons
- Limited designs
- Ring resizing
- Damages easily
- Nickel allergies
- Fades over time
There aren't lots of stainless steel rings available for a couple of reasons:
Due to the fact stainless steel is a lot more rigid compared to precious metals, it's hard to create designs with beautiful gemstone settings.
If designers are limited in what they're able to create it doesn't leave lots of choices for you. There isn't as much uniqueness compared to metals like gold and platinum.
Stainless steel is also a lot less popular so jewelers won't stock lots of designs in jewelry stores. How many people go to stores for stainless steel rings?
Jewelers also lose money when shelf space is taking up by stainless steel jewelry because it's so cheap compared to other rings they could sell make from platinum and gold.
Luckily more and more jewelers are waking up to the fact more people are looking for stainless steel so they do have more inventory these days.
It's also very easy to find great stainless steel jewelry online. Just make sure you know what size you want and remember it's always better to size up.
Eventually, you might realize your rings are suddenly tight due to several different factors. If it's because you're eating too much salt you can cut down.
But sometimes your stainless steel ring will be so small it's dangerous and you'll need to get it resized to protect your finger.
It's possible to resize stainless steel rings, but it's not as easy as resizing metals like gold and silver.
Jewelers will have to use a special laser to resize stainless steel rings and it's very complicated working with gemstones.
Hopefully, your ring is too big because you'll be able to use sizing beads instead of traditional resizing to make your ring band smaller.
We've discussed a few reasons why stainless steel jewelry is great when it comes to superficial damage, but they can take a big beating in other ways.
Here are a couple of problems you'll need to avoid:
- Water damage
If you bang your stainless steel ring hard enough it could end up with a big dent you won't be able to fix.
Do you consider yourself an active person with a touch like a baby elephant? If you're careless your stainless steel ring will get banged up.
You can't wear any stainless steel jewelry in the ocean or swimming pools. It's especially bad in pools because chlorine will destroy the stainless steel.
Choose a quality metal like 316L stainless steel if you must wear your ring when you go swimming, but it's still better to take your jewelry off before going swimming.
One of the reasons why people complain about stainless steel jewelry being fake is because a large percentage of the population is allergic to nickel.
If you have sensitive skin it's going to leave a nasty rash on your finger. Cheap stainless steel jewelry isn't hypoallergenic.
You must ensure you stick to 316L, 304, and other high-grade stainless steel to avoid your skin being exposed to nickel.
Once you've bought a stainless steel ring it's practically worthless. You're not going to get very much money if you decide to sell it.
You won't be able to hand it down over generations because it's not going to last forever even though it's a pretty durable metal.
To be fair, this could be a blessing in disguise. You won't need to worry about losing or damaging the ring every day.
Fades over time
If you plan on wearing your stainless steel ring for many years it's eventually going to fade because the brightness and shininess won't last forever.
The natural color of the metal which has a grayish hue eventually shines through. But it's still possible to get your ring polished at the jewelers.
Unfortunately, the grayish hue is always going to show up eventually and you'll need to keep getting it polished if you prefer the bright look.
Some stainless steel jewelry fans like the natural color. Precious metals like platinum look good with their natural matte appearance too.
Is stainless steel fake jewelry?
Stainless steel might be cheap but that doesn't mean it's fake jewelry. I know a lot of people will look down on stainless steel because of the price.
If you're happy with a stainless steel ring it's a perfectly acceptable metal to create jewelry. There is a good reason why some people ask if it's fake.
It's pretty easy to fake stainless steel jewelry because it looks like every other shiny metal. Proper stainless steel is an alloy comprised of a few things:
It can also have metals like titanium, copper, nickel, silicon, and aluminum inside it.
As you can imagine it's very hard to determine whether or not a ring is made from these metals when you're in a jewelry store. Are you going to pull a magnet out to test the ring?
Even if the metal is stainless steel it won't necessarily be high grade like 316L. There are tests you can carry out including looking for a 4-digit code.
I think it's best to stick with reputable jewelers and online stores. If you're buying from an independent jewelry designer make sure they have great reviews.
How long does stainless steel jewelry last?
If you look after your ring it should last you decades and you won't need to worry about buying a new one if you don't want to.
Stainless steel is durable and resists corrosion and oxidation. It won't turn your skin green, rust, or tarnish even when it's worn every day.
You will need to take it to the jewelers to get it polished every once in a while. These trips might turn out to be more expensive than the cost of the ring.
How do you protect stainless steel jewelry?
You'll still need to protect stainless steel jewelry even though it can last decades. If you end up with a large dent in your ring it might be useless.
It might end up so tight you need to take it to the jeweler to get cut off. You'll also need to be thoughtful when you go anywhere near swimming pools and the ocean.
Is stainless steel jewelry waterproof?
Stainless steels like 316L are technically waterproof so you don't need to worry about coming into regular contact with water when wearing your ring.
You'll be able to jump in the shower or bath without taking your ring off. It's okay to wash your hands when you go to the bathroom.
Wearing your ring while playing sports is fine because your sweat won't corrode and rust high-grade stainless steel. Chlorine is the worst chemical you need to worry about.
Questions + Answers
Is stainless steel jewelry safe?
Medical grade metal is safe to wear, so don't worry about 316L and 304 stainless steel. If they're using it to cut into bodies it's okay to sit on your skin.
We've talked about how it's hypoallergenic, a poor electrical conductor, and easy to cut off in emergencies. It's a lot safer than some precious metals.
Is stainless steel jewelry worth anything?
Stainless steel jewelry is valuable when it's sitting in a jewelry store because it has lots of amazing qualities we've talked about today.
It can also be valuable if you have a gemstone on your ring. But once you've bought the jewelry it's essentially a cheap piece of metal.
Is it bad to wear stainless steel jewelry?
The only people who feel bad wearing stainless steel jewelry are those who enjoy the finer things in life. Would you feel ashamed wearing stainless steel?
I think that's the only bad thing about wearing the cheap alloy. It's safe and environmentally friendly so wearing it is a good thing.
Does stainless steel jewelry look good?
Some alloys look bland and cheap so wouldn't be good for jewelry. Stainless steel rivals platinum, white gold, and silver when it comes to looks.
But it's also less likely to have an intricate setting with dazzling gemstones because it's too hard to create when using such a hard metal.
It's fair to say stainless steel looks good if you value a minimalist look. If you prefer fancier styles there are better metals to use.
Can you wear stainless steel every day?
You can wear it every day when you're carrying out heavy-duty tasks at work or sitting around at home. Do you ever take your engagement ring off because you don't want to lose it?
You have a greater sense of freedom when you're wearing stainless steel because if something terrible were to happen to your ring it wouldn't be a big deal.
If you keep expensive rings for special occasions and want something to wear regularly stainless steel is perfect.
Does stainless steel jewelry smell?
All jewelry will begin to smell bad because it will be exposed to your sweat. If you wear it in the shower it's not going to have a strong smell of body odor.
But you can guarantee it smells fresh by washing it with soap and warm water. It's something you should do anyway to keep it clean and shiny.
Stainless Steel Jewelry Pros And Cons
If you look at the pros and cons of stainless steel, I think it's the best choice for anyone on a budget. Just make sure it's high-grade stainless steel like 316L or 304.
As long as you're happy with a minimalist ring it doesn't have too many cons that would scare away buyers.