Stainless steel necklaces have become quite popular in the jewelry industry due to their unique properties. But, are stainless steel necklaces or chains good?
Since the discovery of stainless steel in the early 14th century as rustless steel, the metal has taken over the jewelry industry as one of the most famous jewelry metals used today. Basically, it is an alloy of steel made of chromium, nickel, and a small percentage of other carbon elements that add to its durability. Jewelers use it to make necklaces, bracelets, bangles, rings, and earrings, among many others. So, if you guys want to read more pros and cons of stainless steel jewelry, read this post.
There are two popular grades of stainless steel used in the jewelry industry; 304 and 316L grade stainless steel. They contain nickel, chromium, and other elements. 316L stainless steel is a better quality of this metal as it consists of additional molybdenum to increase its resistance to corrosion.
Since its invention, stainless steel has become quite popular due to its high resistance to corrosion, affordability, and durability. Let us dive into the benefits and disadvantages of this metal.
The pros of stainless steel necklaces
Stainless steel necklaces are quite affordable as they are easily available. The metal is an alternative to traditional jewelry metals, like silver, gold, and bronze, making it cheaper to purchase.
Stainless steel necklaces can cost anywhere between $35 to $375 depending on where you buy it and the additional stone setting details on the necklace. Compared to diamonds that can cost as much as $2000 to $25000 per carat, stainless steel necklaces have become popular among people who seek great quality necklaces for low prices.
It does not tarnish, rust or fade
Due to the different metals used in the making of this metal alloy, stainless steel has a high resistance to rusting, tarnishing, scratching, and fading. Unlike other metals that contain iron, stainless steel necklaces do not form iron oxide, also known as rust, that weakens the metallic bonds causing breakage and eventual corrosion.
When the different elements of stainless steel react with air or moisture, a layer of chromium oxide forms, instead of iron oxide. The layer is very stable and prevents the metal from further reacting with water, oxygen, chemicals, and other environmental factors. The thickness of chromium oxide is very thin. Even though partial corrosion takes place when chromium oxide form, it is challenging to see without special equipment; thus, the stainless appearance of stainless steel.
Stainless steel necklaces are of premium quality and very durable. Their long-lasting properties result from their high resistance to scratching and rusting after the formation of the layer of chromium oxide. As such, it can withstand the wear and tear of constant use over time better than other alternative metals used in making jewelry.
Roughly, stainless steel necklaces can last for up to 25 years with little maintenance. Although they can lose its shine and need re-polishing after a few years of wearing the chain, the cost and frequency of maintenance are low compared to other jewelry metals. For instance, gold needs re-polishing after every six months, and silver requires re-polishing multiple times a year, just to maintain its shine. 316L stainless steel is more durable and preferable than the 304 grade, as it can last up to 1200 years in average weather before heavy pitting.
A wide variety of designs and shapes
Stainless steel necklaces come in many designs, shapes, and sizes. Many jewelers combine stainless steel with diamonds as it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The color of the metal complements the diamonds and does not cheapen the look and visual appeal of the chain.
The cons of stainless steel necklaces
Susceptible to bending and dents
Stainless steel necklaces are prone to bending and dent if you are very careless with your jewelry. By using very sharp objects and applying a lot of pressure, the metal may easily dent and bend. Similarly, dropping these necklaces on a hard surface reduces the visual appeal of the necklace.
In the case of denting, using dry ice is the most convenient way to restore it into its former glory. Place the dry ice on the dented area for a few minutes, and the steel in the necklace will begin to contract and pop back up to its original state.
Jewelers cannot easily mold stainless steel into very intricate designs due to its rigidity. Stainless steel is very strong, and the combination of its metal alloys prevents the individual atoms from dissociating from each other. Most necklaces made from stainless steel do not contain excessive stone settings and details.
Some stainless steel necklaces contain nickel as it adds to the tensile strength and durability of the metal. It is then coated with silver or gold to give it’s a lustrous appearance and shine. As such, people with mental sensitivities may have an allergic reaction when wearing these stainless steel necklaces.
Nickel allergy is one of the major causes of skin irritation. Some grades of stainless steel contain high traces of nickel and iron, resulting in an allergic reaction to people with hypersensitive skin. However, 316L stainless steel is hypoallergenic as it undergoes a rigorous process to eliminate all traces of nickel. However, people who do not have sensitive skin can comfortably wear stainless steel necklaces throughout the day.
Stainless steel necklaces are gaining increasingly popular due to their durability, affordability, and resistance to rusting, tarnishing, changing color, and corroding. However, make sure you ask your jeweler if your piece contains nickel before purchasing it to avoid any allergic reactions.
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