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Stainless steel is one of the most recognizable metals. Lots of items claim to be stainless steel from kitchen appliances to jewelry. While perusing jewelry you have likely noticed stainless steel rings.
You may have wondered, are stainless steel rings good?
Stainless Steel rings are good for the price. They are affordable, durable and corrosion resistant. Also, stainless steel is easier to design and is less prone to dents than gold.
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In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of a stainless steel ring as well as take a look at their composition, price range, and competitors.
What Is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is an alloy. That means it is not a pure metal but a metal mixed with other components. Mixing metal with other materials usually provides the metal with additional benefits.
Stainless can refer to a bunch of different steel types. But generally, stainless steel is iron and carbon plus chromium and nickel. Alloying the iron and carbon with chromium and nickel help to make it corrosion and rust-resistant. Hence the name “stainless”.
Iron readily rusts but chromium provides a protective layer to the metal. Chromium can be added in varying amounts. Usually anywhere from 10% to 30% of the alloy is chromium. This results in different grades of stainless steel.
Sometimes molybdenum, titanium, and/or niobium can be added in. These materials also change the grade or type of stainless steel. Common stainless steel jewelry markings include the following:
304: This is one of the most common alloys of stainless steel and indicates the addition of chromium and nickel to the metal.
316L: Chromium and nickel, plus molybdenum. This is the kind used in surgical instruments and is generally considered hypoallergenic.
Both of these types of stainless steels are very strong. They are also able to withstand high temperatures and are non-magnetic. Excellent for everything from construction to jewelry.
Be sure to check out our selection of engraved stainless steel rings here.
The Appearance of Stainless Steel
When you hear stainless steel you probably think silver. And this would be accurate. Most stainless steel jewelry is silver or soft greyish-white in color.
However, it can be plated. There are a number of colors to choose from if you are looking to plate your stainless steel ring. This will drastically change its appearance.
Stainless steel, like other rings, can either be polished to a high shine or left matte. Whether you choose to leave your ring textured or shine it until its lustrous will likely not change the characteristics of the metal.
Characteristics of Stainless Steel
As mentioned, stainless steel is extremely strong. After all, it is used in construction material due to its high iron content. Your industrial strength ring will definitely stand up to regular wear.
The addition of chromium makes it resistant to corrosion. Leaving you with a durable and anti-fading or rusting item of jewelry. It won’t fade, rust, corrode, scratch, tarnish or oxidize.
Other than being very strong and durable it is also resistant to heat, is non-magnetic, and some forms are hypoallergenic. All great qualities for a ring.
Is Stainless Steel Good For a Ring?
Stainless steel can be a good choice for a ring because of its durable qualities. If you are hard on your jewelry, lead an active lifestyle, or have a job that requires you to use your hands a lot, stainless steel can be a great choice because of its strength. It can hold up to daily use and resist most signs of aging.
Though very strong it is not heavy. This makes it light and comfortable to wear. Unlike bulkier and heavier rings, it won’t weigh your finger.
For those concerned with wearing jewelry at work, stainless steel may be a good choice. It is a poor conductor of electricity. You won’t have to be concerned about getting a shock via your ring!
Additionally, it can be removed using common tools. This means should it need to be taken off of your finger in an emergency situation, it can be cut off rather easily.
It also is preferable because of its appearance. Many individuals like the soft gray-white or silver color. It resembles many other valuable metals like platinum and can be very alluring when worn as a ring.
Though it is strong it can be molded into a variety of designs and shapes when it comes to jewelry. It might take some force to mold it into your design of choice, but once achieved it will likely last a lifetime.
Stainless steel may also be hypoallergenic. This is wonderful news for those with allergies. Just remember, some plated versions may not be hypoallergenic.
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable, another advantage for those seeking a sustainable option. It is also one of the most eco-friendly metals to produce.
A final advantage is that it is low maintenance. Not only will your ring withstand a lifetime of use but it will also look great doing so with very little care.
They can be cleaned with soap and water. The absence of a rhodium plating means you won’t have to have them re-plated every few years.
There are several reasons why the characteristics of stainless steel make it a strong contender for a ring choice.
What Do Stainless Steel Rings Cost?
Plain stainless steel rings can cost as little as $15, finished or comfort stainless steel bands will run into the $20-$25 range. If you have a stainless steel ring engraved, you can expect to pay $10-$15 more for engraving.
With so many great attributes you may be wondering “what will it cost me?”. Stainless steel is surprisingly affordable. Many individuals like that it looks like much more expensive metals but doesn’t have the matching price tag.
Recap of the Advantages of Stainless Steel:
- Low maintenance
- Resembles beautiful and more expensive metals
Why You May Not Want a Stainless Steel Ring
It sounds too good to be true! However, stainless steel does have a few minor disadvantages. Though it is pretty good at resisting scratches, it can dent. If you apply strong force, drop a heavy object on it, or pinch it a dent may result.
Stainless steel isn’t very malleable. While this is a good thing, its rigidity makes it very difficult to get complicated and detailed designs. Unlike gold, you may not be able to achieve the complexity of the design that you are hoping for.
Finally, stainless steel isn’t always allergy-friendly. It is alloyed with nickel and therefore some people may have an allergic reaction to this material.
Other considerations include the difficulty of resizing and its availability. Most jewelers might not have the tools to resize stainless steel because it is so strong and rigid. Additionally, many physical jewelers don’t carry a wide variety of stainless steel rings.
In most cases, you will need to purchase it online, which can limit your choices. However, as long as you do your research and choose the appropriate size, these factors shouldn’t be an issue.
Recap of the Disadvantages of Stainless Steel
- May dent easily
- Cannot achieve very detailed designs
- May cause an allergic reaction in some individuals due to the nickel
Can Stainless Steel Rings Have Gems?
Stainless steel rings can hold gemstones. The ring's rigidity and strength mean it can securely hold a variety of stones. However, many jewelers don’t typically set extremely valuable stones, like diamonds, in stainless steel rings.
This is because stainless steel itself is not very valuable. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to set such a pricey gem within such a low-cost metal. Although, some people may choose to save on the ring metal in order to afford a more valuable stone.
Other than gems and stones, stainless steel rings can also have engravings or designs. The bigger your ring the more designs and details you can put on it. And, because stainless steel is relatively inexpensive, you can have quite a big ring without paying an exorbitant amount of money.
Maintenance of Stainless Steel Rings
Stainless steel doesn’t require a great deal of care and cleaning. It can be cleaned with soap, warm water, and a soft cloth. It can be left to air dry or dried off with a towel.
Stainless steel benefits from occasional polishing though it shouldn’t need regular polishing. This can be done at a jeweler or at home with a purchased specialized polishing cloth.
Some individuals may use toothpaste to polish their stainless steel. This is because it is abrasive. If you choose to use toothpaste go slowly and lightly and be sure to wash your ring well afterward.
Stainless steel isn’t prone to scratching but it is still a good idea to be conscious of your ring. Try not to expose it to repeated banging or friction. Additionally, when storing it should be stored away from other metals in its own area. This will reduce scratching and corrosion.
Finally, avoid chlorine. Though stainless steel is corrosion resistant, it doesn’t play well with chlorine. If you plan to go swimming it is best to remove your jewelry before entering the pool.
A Long-Lasting Ring Choice
If you are looking for an attractive and durable ring that won’t break the bank, stainless steel is a great choice! It won’t cost you much in terms of money or time and will stay looking lustrous for years to come.