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Is Stainless Steel Jewelry Durable? How Long Should It Last?

Is Stainless Steel Jewelry Durable? How Long Should It Last?

Stainless steel jewelry was originally popularized with men’s rings but has since increased in popularity among both men and women.

The versatility, affordability, and durability of stainless steel jewelry has caused an increase in popularity for wedding rings, promise rings, necklaces, earrings, anklets, body piercings, and a wide variety of other jewelry. Now I get the affordability, but is stainless steel jewelry really that durable?

Stainless steel jewelry is one of the most durable metals used for jewelry. It will not corrode, scratch, lose its luster, and lasts forever. The hard metal does not damage from everyday use or continual exposure to water. The metal is easily cleaned and ages so well to last a lifetime.

Stainless steel is such a versatile metal from being used in cooking, appliances, medical devices, car parts and now in high quality jewelry. There are many qualities of stainless steel that make it the ideal metal for any of your jewelry needs.

I will explain why I have fallen in love with stainless steel jewelry and now prefer it over 925 sterling silver jewelry.

The Durability Of Stainless Steel Jewelry

The main reason I now prefer stainless steel jewelry is cost and durability. Don’t get me wrong I love jewelry with precious gems but it’s just not realistic for most people including myself. I simply can’t afford it. With stainless steel I can purchase a ring, or necklace for a very reasonable price and it will last me forever.

I wear my stainless steel jewelry on a daily basis, in the shower, doing dishes, and just everyday use without worrying about it getting damaged or turning green from exposure to water. If I get my rings or necklace dirty, they are easy to wash off with regular soap and water and dry off with a towel. Then voila, it’s as good as new.

The only caveat to exposure to water is you shouldn’t expose your stainless steel jewelry to chlorine. I have forgotten and gone swimming with my ring on and it didn’t cause any corrosion. But any long-term exposure to chlorine can eventually cause corrosion on stainless steel jewelry.

Otherwise I’ve gone to the beach, exposed my jewelry to sand, salt water, and like I said just day to day use with no scratches, corrosion or damages to my jewelry.

Now, stainless steel jewelry can dent but you would have to hit it pretty hard with a blunt or sharp object to cause it to dent. Especially if it’s a ring, you’re more likely to cause severe damage to your fingers before you would even dent a stainless steel ring.

For those of you with nickel allergies, stainless steel jewelry does contain a percentage of nickel in its alloy. I would recommend only purchasing 316L stainless steel jewelry because it is medical grade (surgical grade) stainless steel and only contains 8 to 10% nickel.

316L stainless steel is classified as hypoallergenic and you are less likely to have an allergic reaction. This is the reason why here at Rebels Depot we only carry 316L stainless steel jewelry.

Now, if you have an extreme allergy to nickel it’s always best to consult a doctor or dermatologist before purchasing any form of stainless steel jewelry.

One drawback of stainless steel is the difficulty to resize it. Stainless steel is such a hard metal, which makes it one of the most durable metals for jewelry but requires special equipment for resizing.

A jeweler requires a special machine that can handle stainless steel’s high melting point and most jewelers don’t have this equipment.

If you’re lucky enough to find a jewelry with this equipment it can cost upwards of $75 to have a stainless steel ring resized. The price for resizing is usually considerably higher than what you paid for the ring. It’s always best to just make sure and order the correct size to avoid this issue.

Since stainless steel jewelry ages incredibly well and lasts forever. It is an ideal option, and has become quite popular, for wedding bands, promise rings, and couple rings. It’s incredible affordable and pretty much looks exactly like 925 sterling silver, and even gold.

Sterling Silver vs Stainless Steel

The advantage of well-crafted stainless-steel jewelry is it pretty much looks identical to Sterling silver but with better durability. The luster is often so similar you cannot differentiate between the two. I’ll explain the main differences between these two metals and why I now prefer stainless steel jewelry over 925 Sterling silver.

925 Sterling Silver Jewelry

Sterling silver is a blend of pure silver and other metal alloys. Pure sterling silver is far too soft and is mixed with other alloys, usually copper, for making jewelry. In fact, pure sterling silver is so soft you can easily bend and shape it with your hands.

925 Sterling silver is always stamped with 925 because it is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. This is how you know if your Sterling silver jewelry is legitimate because if it’s advertised as 925 Sterling Silver and doesn’t contain the 925 imprint then its fake.

Sterling silver is one of the easiest metals to work with for jewelers. It can be easily, and affordably, molded into rings, bracelets, earrings, pendants, well, pretty much any kind of jewelry imaginable.

Like stainless steel jewelry it can have a wide range of attractive colors and finishes. It can have a bright white, dark or even jet black finish. It can be easily polished for a high gloss or a duller matte look. No matter the design or style it’s a very nice metal to work with for jewelry.

Of course, durability has always been an issue with Sterling silver. Some jewelers will even add palladium along with the copper as part of the 7.5% alloy mix. This mix increases Sterling silver’s hardness and durability. It bumps it up to around 3.5 on the MOH scale for metals.

Another drawback of Sterling silver is you cannot mount gemstones directly on to the metal due to how soft it is. Sterling silver requires a gold prong mount or some form of bezel setting for mounting gemstones. Not a huge hindrance for a consumer but this is more of a concern for jewelers.

But the main issue with Sterling silver is its overall lack of durability. It does naturally wear and will gain minor imperfections simply due to the softness of the metal.

Now, some people like these imperfections and feel that this accentuates the beauty of the piece. While others, like myself, don’t really like my jewelry looking like it’s decades old after only wearing it for 10 months.

Sterling silver can end up looking pretty beaten up, dented, and scratched as compared to other precious metals and stainless steel. You must be far more careful when wearing 925 Sterling silver jewelry.

It will tarnish over time and you need to keep it away from salt water and many common household cleaners and chemicals. This will also speed up corrosion and could damage your jewelry.

Sterling silver requires more regular maintenance and even professional polishing to keep its luster, whereas stainless steel jewelry and other precious metals do not.

Lastly, be careful when purchasing 925 sterling silver jewelry online. There is a lot of online stores and retailers that claim to be selling 925 sterling silver when it’s actually fake. Here at Rebels Depot we only sell 925 Sterling silver jewelry that contains the authentic 925 stamp.

Stainless Steel Jewelry

I was surprised to learn that there are almost 150 different variations of stainless steel used to produce goods. Now, there is only a few high-quality stainless-steel alloys that are appropriate for jewelry, such as 304L and 316L medical grade.

As I’ve mentioned several times, stainless steel jewelry has become very popular due to its affordability and durability. But it’s quite amazing the wide range of high-quality finishes stainless steel jewelry can have.

It produces a far better light reflection once polished compared to 925 Sterling silver and is easily made to resemble chrome or even pewter.

You can’t match stainless steel for its durability and the incredibly high resistance to scratches and dents. Since stainless steel contains 12% of a metal called Chromium it will never rust, lose its luster, and of course is easily cleaned. It ages far better than Sterling silver and lasts for years.

Well-crafted stainless steel jewelry now looks exactly like Sterling silver and can even resemble white gold. It’s even possible to get stainless steel jewelry plated with either rose gold or yellow gold for a very nice finish.

You cannot argue the durability and overall affordability of stainless steel jewelry compared to Sterling silver and especially other precious metals.

Related Questions

How to tell the difference between titanium and stainless steel jewelry? Titanium is a metallic element whereas stainless steel is an alloy. Since titanium is an element it is more expensive than stainless steel. Titanium appears a little darker and is hypoallergenic, Stainless steel is shinier and can cause allergic reactions, especially if combined with nickel. 

Can I wear stainless steel jewelry in the ocean? Stainless steel jewelry can endure a small amount of exposure to salt water. A small amount of tarnishing can occur but that can easily be wiped off with fresh water. it’s not recommended to wear any form of jewelry while swimming in the ocean.