One thing you look at when buying jewelry is its material. You are wondering how long it will last you. The possibility of it rusting or tarnishing scares you. You might settle on stainless steel because of its durability.
The one thing you might want to know is, does stainless steel tarnish? To know this, there are a few things you have to know.
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- 1 Types of Stainless Steel
- 2 Would Stainless Steel Tarnish or Rust?
- 3 What Prevents Stainless Steel from Tarnishing
- 3.1 Can Gold-Plated Stainless Steel Jewelry Tarnish?
- 3.2 How to Prevent the Stainless Steel Jewelry from Tarnishing
- 3.3 Clean It with Soap and Water
- 3.4 Clean with Baking Soda and Water
- 3.5 Ultrasonic Cleaning
- 3.6 Avoid Salty Water
- 3.7 Invest in Quality Jewelry
- 3.8 Get Your Jewelry from a Certified Jeweler
Types of Stainless Steel
There are various types of stainless steel. Whether your jewelry rusts or not will depend on the type used to make it and the conditions exposed.
Most jewelry made of stainless steel is made from 316L Steel. It is an alloy of carbon, chromium, iron, manganese, and nickel. The chromium in stainless steel prevents the alloy from rusting or tarnishing. 316L steel is recommended because it is hypoallergenic and will not react to your skin. You can use it as jewelry for piercings and as external jewelry.
The other types of steel alloys contain a high percentage of nickel. The nickel makes them unsuitable for jewelry.
Would Stainless Steel Tarnish or Rust?
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One thing you need to remember is that stainless steel is not indestructible. Depending on the conditions you expose it to, stainless steel will tarnish.
Top of the list of things that can make stainless steel tarnish is corrosive chemicals. If you handle corrosive chemicals and they come in contact with your jewelry, it will tarnish. It is recommended that you take off your jewelry before coming into contact with such chemicals.
Another thing that may cause your jewelry to tarnish is salty ocean water. While you might bathe while wearing your jewelry, you might want to take it off when you go into the ocean. It will ensure that your jewelry is preserved for longer.
One important thing you need to remember is the fact that stainless steel does stain. It does not stain as much as the other metals in the market.
What Prevents Stainless Steel from Tarnishing
Stainless steel is an alloy of various elements, as we have seen earlier. The top of this list is chromium. Chromium prevents oxidation from happening, which prevents the jewelry from staining. To ensure you get quality stainless steel jewelry, it should have at least 10% of chromium. It would help if you remembered that having these amounts of chromium means the jewelry is not 100% safe.
Even with the chromium layer, there is a chance of getting damaged. It means that the jewelry will not be protected. In such scenarios, the other metals in the jewelry will oxidize and make it lose its shine.
Besides chromium, stainless steel is also protected by a layer of oxide. The layer develops when exposed to air. It prevents the metals from corroding.
Can Gold-Plated Stainless Steel Jewelry Tarnish?
Whereas solid gold jewelry does not tarnish, gold-plated jewelry does fade with time. Gold-plating on jewelry has proven to be very fragile. Rose-gold plating also reacts the same as the gold plating.
While the finish might last for a while, it will eventually fade. The upside of having your stainless steel jewelry gold plated is the added layer of security. Once this layer fades away, you will end up with your stainless steel bit of jewelry. It might last longer, but it will not serve the purpose if you want your jewelry to look like it is made of gold.
How to Prevent the Stainless Steel Jewelry from Tarnishing
Even with its amazing ability to withstand oxidation, your jewelry is still vulnerable. As such, you need to take care of it. It is only by doing so that you can keep it shiny and rust-free for long. Here are a few tips on caring for your stainless steel jewelry.
Clean It with Soap and Water
One of the easiest things to do is clean your jewelry. It will get rid of the dirt and ensure your jewelry remains stain free. The good thing about doing this is, it is easy and inexpensive. If you feel stuck on what you need to do, then these tips should come in handy:
- Get a small bowl and fill it with warm water. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to this water. Fill another small bowl with warm water as well. Dip a soft cloth into the soap water and rub your jewelry with it to remove the dirt. If there are areas you cannot reach, then you might want to use a toothbrush. In such cases, dip the jewelry in warm water. Ensure you get all the dirt cleaned out.
- Once you have it all clean, dip it in the bowl of clean water to rinse it out. Wipe it off with a clean, soft cloth.
- To ensure that jewelry shines, use a polish cloth and polish to buff the jewelry. Various online stores sell such clothes incase you do not have one.
Clean with Baking Soda and Water
Another way to keep your jewelry from tarnishing is by cleaning it in baking soda and water.
Here are the steps to follow when doing this:
- In a small bowl, mix two parts baking soda and one part of water to make a paste.
- Dip a toothbrush or small bristle brush into the paste and scrub the jewelry until it is clean. Ensure you get all the parts. Once this is done, rinse your jewelry in warm running water to get rid of the baking soda paste.
- Pat the jewelry dry.
- Use a soft cloth and polish and apply this to your jewelry. Polish until its natural shine returns.
If you do not have baking soda, then you can do this using silica-free toothpaste. It works just like baking soda.
In case your jewelry is badly tarnished, then you might have to use ultrasonic cleaning. How it works is through intense vibrations that get the dirt out of the hard-to-reach areas. Since it is very expensive, it might be your last resort. The two home remedies work in the same way. Try them out before you go for ultrasonic cleaning.
Avoid Salty Water
As we have seen, salty water has the potential to damage your jewelry. If you live in a place that has salty water, then it is a great idea to take off your rings when doing dishes. Do this for any jewelry you might have on you when taking a shower. Exposure to salty water for a long time will end up tarnishing your jewelry. The effect is irreversible. Another big no is swimming in the ocean with your jewelry. Avoid salty water on it as much as you can.
Invest in Quality Jewelry
One thing you need to realize is that the quality of the jewelry is what will ensure it stays stainless for long. Ensure you get authentic stainless steel jewelry. As long as it is made from 316L or 301L steel, then you can use the jewelry. If it is made from 310L steel, you need to ensure that you do not use it for body piercings. The chromium quantities mean that they are not safe to be used for the piercings.
Get Your Jewelry from a Certified Jeweler
Your jewelry can only be as authentic as the place you get it from. When looking for stainless steel jewelry, get a jeweler that specializes in it. They will be better placed to get you what you need. You avoid counterfeit products that will not only stain but might also be harmful to you. Look around you and select a jeweler that will work for you.
With these tips, you can ensure that your stainless steel jewelry will stay looking fresh and not tarnish for a long time.
Your jewelry says a lot about you in terms of personality. It would make sense if you took time to ensure that you get the right pieces for you and your collection. Take your time as you go through the pieces in the shops you visit and pick those that you want.
Remember that nothing is indestructible. The only way to ensure that your jewelry serves you for long is by taking good care of it. Ensure that the jewelry does not get scratched and always clean it from time to time. The polish you get for it should also be made of mild chemicals. Corrosives will only make the jewelry wear out quickly. In taking good care of it, you ensure that the jewelry serves you for long. You will also have no issues when it comes to preserving it for a long time.
Take time to go through the pieces available and pick what stands out for you. Just because it is made of stainless steel does not mean it has to look boring. There are many intricate and interesting pieces on the market. Choose from those and look fabulous in your pieces.
Hey Fashion Enthusiasts! My wife Chantal and I, have been so fortunate to be able to share our latest inspiration and trends in the jewelry and accessory industry, and more so, to get this amazing feedback from our ever growing community. Where my wife focusses more on all things rings, weddings and female jewelry, I love to scoop out the newest accessories for men. I roam around the world to find the latest watches, bags, sunglasses, scarfs, wallets, you name it and I’ll deliver! I always commit to doing a lot of research to share my reviews and personalized advice on this blog or on our store. If you do not know what to wear, send me an email and I will help you out!