The Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Jewelry

If you’re considering purchasing a piece of stainless steel jewelry, you are in good company. Pieces crafted from stainless steel continue to rise in popularity and gain traction in the fashion world.

But is stainless the way to go when considering a new jewelry purchase? How does this material compare to sterling silver or gold?

As one of the world’s premiere purveyors of men’s jewelry and accessories, we know a thing or two about what makes stainless steel great…and where it might be lacking when compared to other metals. And so, we thought we’d share our list of the pros and cons of purchasing and wearing stainless steel jewelry pieces.

But first…what is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is an amalgam of iron and carbon with rather specific proportions. In order to be considered stainless steel, the metal must be composed of a minimum of 10.5% chromium and no more than 1.2% carbon. The resulting metal boasts a ruggedly attractive muted gray color and is often used as a substitute for sterling or gold in jewelry making.

The Good News

Here’s what we love about stainless:

  • It’s remarkably durable. Stainless steel is a strong metal and is naturally resistant to scratches. It is also resistant to rust and oxidation, so it doesn’t require the upkeep of other metals. This makes it the perfect metal for everyday jewelry, especially for those who work in the outdoor elements or live in high-humidity climates.
  • It’s environmentally friendly (and who doesn’t love that?). Stainless steel is usually 100% recyclable. Because it is not coated with toxic materials during the production process, there’s no need to worry about any dangerous run-off leaching into the ground and water. And most stainless steel jewelry is crafted from recycled metal. Who knew stainless was so sustainable?
  • It’s wonderfully versatile. Stainless jewelry exudes effortless elegance. Most pieces are muted, meaning it is easy to dress them up or down. And you can find stainless jewelry in a wide variety of designs and shades. Whether you’re looking for cuffs, chains, earrings, or signet rings, you’ll see something that suits your style crafted in stainless steel.
  • It’s surprisingly affordable. Stainless has become a popular alternative to jewelry crafted from high-dollar precious metals like silver and gold.


The Bad News

Before you go trading your silver pieces in for sterling, consider these drawbacks:

  • While sterling is resistant to scratching, it is susceptible to dents. Over time, sterling pieces (particularly rings) can develop dents and dings that give the piece a worn appearance. The good news is, most reputable jewelers can solder or polish away any damage. Consider this an investment of the money you saved by purchasing stainless jewelry over silver or gold.
  • Resizing sterling can be tricky. Because of the strength of the metal, most sterling jewelry cannot be resized by hand and requires a special tool that few jewelers keep at the ready.
  • There’s a reason stainless steel is so affordable. Unlike gold and silver pieces that are almost guaranteed to appreciate over time, the value of stainless steel won’t go up.


Recommended Pieces to Start a Stainless Collection

If there is a specific piece you’re looking for to broaden your accessory collection, rest assured there’s likely a stainless steel version available. If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of men’s jewelry, we usually recommend a thin stainless steel cuff bracelet or a leather or cord bracelet with a stainless accent.

Caring for Stainless Steel Jewelry

It’s important to remember there’s a difference between low maintenance and no maintenance. While stainless steel jewelry is relatively easy to care for, it does require some minor upkeep to ensure your pieces last for years to come. Here are our top tips:

  • Aim to clean your stainless steel pieces monthly.
  • Use warm, soapy water with a small amount of mild dish soap and a soft, damp cloth to remove any built-up dirt or debris. If your pieces contain anything other than stainless steel—such as semi precious stones—always check with the jeweler who sold you the piece before cleaning.
  • Dry your jewelry with an absorbent, dry cloth and allow it to air dry.
  • Alternatively, you may choose to purchase a jewelry cleaner that is labeled for use with sterling jewelry.

If you’d like to get an idea of just how spectacular sterling jewelry can look, click here to view our online collection of sterling pieces. From subtle and understated to bold and flashy, we have hundreds of pieces to inspire your next stainless steel purchase. Regardless of what you’re looking for, we think you’ll see that Cudworth has its fingers on the pulse of contemporary men’s fashion accessories.