Have you recently heard about stainless steel jewelry and want to know more about this relatively new jewelry material? You’ve come to the right place! Here are 7 surprising facts about stainless steel jewelry that you might not know about!
1. Stainless Steel Jewelry is Waterproof
Yes! Finally jewelry that is super low maintenance. Accidentally wear it in the shower? No problem. Leave your earrings out on a damp bathroom counter? No problem! Stainless steel is inherently rust and tarnish proof. The presence of chromium in its chemical composition creates a barrier that prevents tarnish from building up, making it super easy to care for.
2. Stainless Steel Jewelry is Hypoallergenic & Won't Turn Your Skin Green
This is one that seems to be up for debate on the internet so let’s clear it up. First, hypoallergenic is defined as jewelry that contains little to no potentially irritating alloys. Typically, the threshold is that if the offending alloy is present but less than 10%, it will not bother the wearer. This usually refers to nickel as this is the most common metal allergy.
Now, why do some people say stainless steel is hypoallergenic while others say it absolutely is not? There are two common alloys of stainless steel used in jewelry!
304 STAINLESS STEEL is categorized as a hypoallergenic metal. It is made of 18-20% chromium, 8-10% nickel, and iron alloys. Nickel allergies are the most common in earring wearers, yet because stainless steel contains less than 10% of nickel in it's composition, it is considered hypoallergenic and a very safe option.
316L STAINLESS STEEL which is ironically nicknamed "surgical steel", contains 10-14% nickel to increase it's corrosion resistance. Unfortunately surgical steel may cause irritation in wearers with nickel allergies because the presence of nickel tends to be higher than 10%.
STUDIYO Jewelry uses 304 stainless steel for all our stainless steel jewelry. I have found over the years that I personally may be slightly allergic to copper which is found in 14kt gold, 14kt rose gold, and in ultra low quantities, in sterling silver mixtures. Wearing high quality 304 stainless steel earrings have made my ears feel so much better. It’s worth a try!
3. Stainless Steel is Highly Recycled
Stainless steel can be infinitely recyclable! This means that it can be extracted and reformed without losing its physical and chemical properties and is currently recycled more than glass and paper. Most stainless steel objects made today have at least 60% recycled steel in it. The sheet metal that we use always has 65-75% recycled content in it and 100% of the scrap sheet metal used to create my pieces are recycled as scrap metal to be melted and reformed into something new!
4. Stainless Steel Jewelry is Light and Durable
Stainless steel is an alloy that blends chromium, titanium, and nickel. Because of this, stainless steel is durable which is why we often use it in manufacturing and for kitchen utensils.
On the Mohs scale of hardness, it has a hardness of 4, compared to sterling silver and gold, which both have a hardness of about 2-2.5. Because it is stronger, we can create more delicate and detailed designs that would easily warp and break if made of brass, silver, or gold.
5. Most Stainless Steel Jewelry is Made Overseas
This is an interesting one that you might not know. Traditionally, jewelry is made and reproduced through casting melted metal. Did you know, that it is extremely rare and virtually impossible to find a jeweler in the United States willing to work with stainless steel? Believe me, I’ve gone down the rabbit hole. The reason I've learned, is that stainless steel has a much higher melting temperature than other metals typically found in jewelry like sterling silver, brass, and gold. This renders the casting process of stainless steel to be pretty dangerous. Large scale manufacturers that are willing to work with stainless steel are more often found in different countries abroad, like China. Many of the companies you see selling stainless steel jewelry in the United States these days, very likely manufacture abroad. They can sell them at lower prices because they mass produce such large quantities allowing them to make them for cheaper.
Not wanting to create a large carbon footprint by mass producing and shipping overseas, I chose to make STUDIYO Jewelry's stainless steel jewelry by cutting flat pieces of metal. Stainless steel sheet metal is a very common material used in residential and commercial construction so sourcing the material in the US was a lot more abundant and made a whole lot more sense for a small US-based business than sourcing from a different country. I love this medium because it can be very similar to paper cutting, which is something very familiar to me from years of making paper models for architecture school. I love the idea of transforming something so industrial into something delicate and personal.
6. Stainless Steel Jewelry is Unique
There aren’t a ton of options for stainless steel jewelry...yet. Stainless steel jewelry is still considered relatively new on the market. It’s gained popularity in the last few years but prior to that, the jewelry that was on the market was designed primarily for men. Of the most common were stainless steel wedding bands and stainless steel bracelets. There currently are not as many varieties of options for stainless steel jewelry (that are not mass produced) for women out there, but lucky for you, STUDIYO Jewelry just came out with a new collection of earrings for you to choose from!
7. Stainless Steel Jewelry is Crazy Adaptable
Last but not least, you can wear stainless steel jewelry to virtually any occasion. In it’s non plated state it has the appearance of silver and when plated, the appearance of gold. You can wear it every day, dress it up or down, and wear it with countless outfits!