Stainless steel jewelry has become a popular choice for its sleek, modern look and affordable price point. But one question buyers often have is: does stainless steel jewelry tarnish?
The short answer is: yes, stainless steel can tarnish, but it’s less prone to tarnishing than other metals like sterling silver. With proper care and maintenance, quality stainless steel jewelry can remain tarnish-free for years.
In this article, we’ll explore the factors that impact stainless steel tarnishing so you can understand how to keep your stainless steel jewelry looking its best.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is an alloy made up primarily of iron and contains at least 10.5% chromium content. The chromium creates an invisible protective layer on the steel’s surface that resists corrosion and tarnishing.
Stainless steel is valued for its:
- Durability – Harder and stronger than sterling silver. Resists scratches.
- Resistance to tarnishing – Less reactive than other metals due to its chromium content.
- Hypoallergenic – Does not contain nickel so less likely to cause skin reactions.
- Affordability – More affordable than gold and platinum jewelry.
When shopping for stainless steel jewelry, look for pieces made from grades 316L or 304. These contain the highest chromium content for maximum resistance to tarnishing.
Does Stainless Steel Tarnish?
Now let’s get back to the main question – does stainless steel jewelry tarnish?
The short answer is yes, it can eventually tarnish due to the following factors:
- Exposure to chlorine – Swimming pools contain chlorine which can damage stainless steel’s protective layer leading to tarnishing over time.
- Contact with lotions and perfume – Chemicals in skin care products can break down the chromium oxide layer and leave steel vulnerable to tarnishing.
- Scratches – Stainless steel is durable but not impervious to scratches. If the surface layer gets compromised, tarnishing can occur.
- Exposure to saltwater – The sodium chloride in ocean water can initiate corrosion and cause pitting or tarnishing.
However, quality stainless steel is designed to resist tarnishing and stands up far better than sterling silver. Tarnishing happens gradually over years of wear. With proper care, your stainless steel jewelry can maintain its original shine and luster for a very long time.
“Stainless steel, if taken care of properly, will not tarnish as quickly as silver or other metals. A stainless steel ring can last a lifetime if maintained well.” – Sarah Berg, Jewelry Designer
Now let’s go over proper care and maintenance.
Caring for Stainless Steel Jewelry
Here are some tips for keeping your stainless steel jewelry looking its best:
- Clean regularly – Use a stainless steel cleaner or mild soap and water to remove dirt, oil and residue that can break down the protective layer.
- Avoid harsh chemicals – Chlorine, bleach, ammonia and other chemicals can damage the surface. Take jewelry off before swimming or cleaning.
- Store properly – Keep pieces in a fabric-lined box or pouch to avoid scratches. Don’t let them rub against other jewelry.
- Remove during physical activities – Take stainless steel jewelry off before exercising, gardening, cleaning, etc. to prevent scratches.
- Check for damage – Inspect regularly under a loupe and look for scratches, cracks or discoloration which indicate a compromised surface layer.
With proper everyday care and cleaning, most good quality stainless steel jewelry will remain tarnish-free for 5-10 years or even longer.
While it can eventually tarnish, stainless steel stands up much better than sterling silver over years of continuous wear. The key is choosing reputable jewelry made with grades 316L or 304 stainless steel. With proper everyday maintenance, you can enjoy long-lasting shine and elegance.
The layer of 18K gold plating protects the stainless steel beneath and prevents tarnishing and fading. These charming necklaces can add a touch of delicate glamour to any outfit.
Shop their collections today to find a tarnish-resistant necklace you’ll cherish for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about stainless steel jewelry tarnishing? Here are answers to some common FAQs:
Does stainless steel jewelry tarnish?
Yes, it can eventually tarnish due to exposure to chemicals, chlorine, scratches, etc. But high-quality stainless steel is very resistant to tarnishing compared to other metals.
How can I prevent stainless steel jewelry from tarnishing?
Clean it regularly with mild soap and water. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach and chlorine. Store pieces properly in fabric pouches and don’t let them scratch against each other.
How long does it take for stainless steel to tarnish?
With proper care, good quality stainless steel jewelry can remain tarnish-free for 5-10 years or even longer. Lower grade stainless steel may tarnish faster.
What removes tarnish from stainless steel jewelry?
Use a stainless steel cleaner or jewelry polishing cloth designed for stainless steel. Do not use abrasives or harsh chemicals which can further damage the surface.
Can tarnish be removed from stainless steel jewelry?
Yes, in most cases tarnish can be removed from stainless steel using a gentle cleaner and polish made for stainless steel. Avoid abrasive cleaners which can cause more damage.
So in summary, stainless steel can eventually tarnish but stands up far better than other metals over years of wear. With proper everyday cleaning and care, you can keep stainless steel jewelry looking beautiful and shiny.