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Telling The Difference Between Titanium And Stainless Steel Jewelry?

Telling The Difference Between Titanium And Stainless Steel Jewelry?

Titanium and stainless-steel have become a popular alternative for people when choosing their jewelry. These two metals are durable, they don’t corrode, and aren’t as expensive as gold or platinum.

So, what is 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.  

It’s important to know the difference between titanium and stainless-steel jewelry so you don’t get ripped off by unscrupulous online stores and vendors. I’ll explain the main differences and a couple simple methods you can use to tell if you have titanium or stainless-steel jewelry.

Is My Jewelry Stainless Steel or Genuine Titanium

Here are the key properties of Titanium which can help you to tell the difference between it and stainless steel:

Titanium is extremely strong and unbreakable –titanium rings and jewelry won't get dents or scratches. Look at your jewelry under a light and there shouldn’t be any scratches or dents.

Titanium rings cannot be resized –titanium is an incredibly strong and unbreakable material. Once it has been shaped and cannot be easily changed. If a vendor or salesperson tells you their titanium rings can be easily resized, then it’s not titanium. Titanium rings cannot be resized once they are made.

Titanium is very lightweight –when your wearing or carrying titanium jewelry it will feel very lightweight. If you hold a titanium ring in your hand and it feels heavy, then it’s probably not titanium. There is a very noticeable weight difference between a stainless-steel ring and a titanium ring.

Titanium is a hypoallergenic metal –it will not cause any type of allergic reaction as opposed to silver, gold and some stainless-steel jewelry, depending on the grade. Titanium being hypoallergenic and durable is the main reason it has become so popular for men’s and women’s rings.

If you notice some discomfort or irritation while wearing your ring, then it’s not titanium. You should get no allergic reaction from titanium jewelry. You will get some allergic reactions from stainless-steel rings and jewelry depending on the grade of the metal. Usually this is a reaction to nickel used in combination with stainless steel.

Titanium has a darker luster - titanium is not as shiny as stainless steel. Titanium is a bit darker than stainless steel and appears more earthy and natural.

Titanium test with saltwater – simply put your titanium ring or jewelry in salt water for a couple hours. If it shows any type of damage or signs of corrosion than you don’t have pure titanium jewelry. You should see no damage or corrosion.

There is another method of testing to see if you have true titanium jewelry. Since metals have different densities a water test is commonly used to measure these differing densities. This is a good way to determine what type of metal your jewelry contains, albeit not the most practical depending on your circumstances.

How To Test Your Jewelry's Metal Density At Home 

Since metals have densities which do not change you can use these densities to differentiate metals. Stainless steels density is nearly double that of Titanium. This makes it easy to determine whether a piece of jewelry is Titanium or something else.

Step By Step Method For Testing Jewelry Metal Density

An overview of the method is that you will measure the weight and volume of the piece of jewelry. You will then put these numbers into a formula as it will give you the density of the metal. Then you can use this information with the average densities of metals to see what metal it is.

1. Required Equipment -You will need a scale, beaker, water to fill the beaker, and a chart with the densities of metal.

The chart of the average density of different metals is shown below. As you can see Titanium has nearly half the density of stainless steel.









































Stainless Steel

7.48 to 7.95

0.27 to 0.287

466 to 496

62.42 to 66.34
















 Chart data from Engineers edge and Cool Magnet Man.

2. Measure the mass of the jewelry using a scale- this is pretty straight forward. Just measure the mass of the piece of jewelry using your scale. Record the mass somewhere where you can access it easily in the future. Just make sure the scale is showing zero before placing your jewelry on it.

3. Measure the volume of the piece of jewelry- to do this we will use the beaker and water. Place some water in the beaker so it won't overflow once you put the jewelry inside. Write down on your phone, or on a piece of paper what the volume is without the jewelry.

Now place the jewelry inside the water. Measure the new volume shown on the beaker. Subtract the bigger number from the smaller number and this will give you the volume of the piece of jewelry. Convert it into a different unit such as inches3 or cm3 if it is easier for you.

4. Calculate the density of the metal - The formula for density is mass/volume, p=m/V. Take the mass which you measured, and the volume you measured, and calculate it. Use the density number you calculated to see what type of metal it is by looking at the chart above.

The chart above has the average densities of the common metals. This is effective method to test for the difference between stainless steel and Titanium because there is such a difference in density between the two metals.

Is Titanium Better Than Stainless Steel For Piercings

Some people have an allergic reaction to metals found in stainless steel, most commonly nickel. The lower percentage of nickel contained the less likely there will be for a reaction. This is why there is different medical grades of stainless steel available and are commonly used in both jewelry, piercings, and medical instruments.

The nice thing about titanium is that has no allergic properties and is a great alternative for individuals with hypersensitivity to nickel and other metals. The only drawback is the cost of titanium in comparison to other more common metals. Titanium is a lot more expensive than stainless steel.

The deciding factor would be if you’ve tried premium medical grade stainless steel, and you still got an allergic reaction, then you will likely have to consider titanium as an alternative. Titanium is better alternative for piercings, rings and jewelry compared to stainless steel for people with allergic reactions.

Is Titanium Jewelry More Corrosion Resistant Than Stainless Steel

Titanium and stainless steel are available in a wide range of grades depending on how they are being used. Depending on what metals are used and their relative proportions most titanium is more corrosion resistant than stainless steel.

This is because the chemical structure of Titanium allows for Oxygen to easily bind to the surface. The oxygen creates a layer of O2, which protects it from corrosion more than stainless steel of equal strength.

Titanium is also an actual metallic element as well in comparison to stainless steel being an alloy. Due to this titanium contains properties that are more resilient against corrosion compared to stainless steel.

Does Titanium Scratch Easier Than Stainless Steel

As previously mentioned, Titanium forms a protective oxide layer because of its chemical properties. This slightly darkens the color of a piece of titanium jewelry. When it gets a minor scuff or scratch it stands out. This is because the underlying surface is brighter and has more luster. This gives the illusion that Titanium is easier to scratch, however, it is actually harder than stainless steel.

Mohs hardness is a quantitative scale. More scratch resistant materials have a higher number. Stainless steel ranges from 5.5 to 6.3 whereas Titanium is 6. Therefore, they are quite similar in their hardness. However, both metals can be restored back to their original form by being polished.

When a piece of jewelry has a scratch, it can be removed quite easily. This is done by using a fiberglass brush. You rub the area with the brush gently to blend it in. People have said that it is easier to remove scratches on Titanium. Because it is easier to blend in than stainless steel.

Why Would You Choose Stainless Steel Jewelry Over Titanium Jewelry

Stainless steel is of a similar hardness however is significantly cheaper. Titanium is up to 4-5 times the price of stainless steel. They look remarkably similar and are both durable and long lasting. If you’re on a budget and get premium medical grade (316L) stainless steel it is a great alternative for jewelry. But, like any jewelry selection it comes down to personal preference.

Although, titanium does have a cool name, and people like the way it sounds. So, if you told someone your watch is made out of Titanium people would think it is cool. Since stainless steel is commonly associated with kitchens and home appliances, people don’t necessarily think of stainless steel when they think of jewelry. This is because stainless steel is relatively new in the jewelry industry.

The only caveat is stainless steel jewelry isn’t recommended if you have a severe nickel allergy. Even the highest grade medical stainless steel can have traces of nickel in it. Your best to ask the vendor or store and they will be able to tell you the nickel content, if any, in their stainless-steel jewelry.

Related Questions

Can stainless steel jewelry be safely worn 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. But, its not recommended to wear any form of jewelry while swimming in the ocean.