Stainless steel jewelry is strong, durable and rust-resistant. It typically has a silver sheen, but, unlike silver, it will not corrode and it is not susceptible to scratches, dings or dents. Stainless steel can be used to make nearly any type of jewelry, from rings and bracelets to necklaces, watches and earrings.
Steel contains carbon, nickel and chromium. In order for steel to be considered stainless, it must contain at least 12 percent chromium. Chromium makes the steel stainless by creating an invisible top layer that prevents oxygen from rusting and otherwise corroding the steel surface. This means that stainless steel jewelry will not rust or tarnish.
Stainless steel is typically marked with a pair of numbers. These numbers refer to the amounts of chromium and nickel in the steel. For example, a stainless steel ring marked with the numbers “20/12” contains 20 percent chromium and 12 percent nickel. The higher the numbers are, the more resistant the steel is to rust and corrosion.
Stainless steel jewelry is able to handle much more wear and tear than silver or gold jewelry, and it requires much less maintenance, making it functional and reliable for everyday purposes. In addition, the nickel in stainless is tightly bound, ensuring that it won't leak out. This means that it is safe for those with metal allergies.
Where to Find It
Stainless steel jewelry can be found in most any jewelry store. Tiffany & Co. has a wide range of stainless steel items, as do other major jewelers. It can also be purchased online via stainless steel wholesalers like BeYouSteel and 316Steel. Stainless steel looks very similar to sterling silver, so check with your jeweler to make sure that the item you select is definitely stainless steel.
Stainless steel is very affordable, however the price of stainless steel jewelry varies depending on where it is purchased. Most pieces from an online wholesaler sell for under $100. Pieces from Tiffany & Co., however, range from $200 to $600. Shop around for the best price before making a purchase.
Kristen L. Depken is an editor for a large children's book publisher in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from The College of New Jersey and currently maintains the Upper East Side Scene blog on uppereast.com. In her spare time, she loves to read, write, and explore Manhattan.