Here is an article from my Wife, the lovely Jewelry Lady herself, Mary Elizabeth Glosup...
Wait a minute...stainless steel for jewelry?
Whaaat!!! Isn't it used for surgical instruments, buildings and bridge supports, appliances? Yup it is. Yet now I'm telling you it can also be used to make from the most delicate piece of ladies jewelry to a manly man piece of jewelry.
Well that's exactly what I'm saying here.
Stainless steel is looking like the NEW sterling silver.
Now what do I mean by that and what are the benefits to stainless steel. Read on...
Okay here goes.
- stainless steel jewelry is known to be long lasting and durable
- stainless steel jewelry does not tarnish
- most people find they have no allergies to stainless steel jewelry
- stainless steel jewelry does contain some nickel but it is still considered hypoallergenic
- stainless steel jewelry is much more affordable and in many cases looks exactly like sterling silver
- stainless steel jewelry resists scratching
- stainless steel jewelry is super easy to clean-all you need is warm water, ABSOLUTELY no jewelry cleaner
- stainless steel jewelry is great for wearing at the beach or playing sports
Are there any draw backs?
Yup, there are. It is very difficult if not impossible to size a stainless steel ring. Do not buy a stainless steel ring if it doesn't already fit you. Please, regardless of what anyone tells you. And if can be sized, you will pay more for the sizing than the ring. This metal is very brittle and in the sizing process, if anyone was brave enough to tackle that, the ring can break. Stainless steel can dent but it is so much harder to dent than sterling silver it isn't almost really worth mentioning.
Two very important comments here maybe three and then on to the technical stuff.
Most sports activities for children do not allow jewelry to be warn. I want to reiterate here, no wearing of stainless steel jewelry for children during sports. This metal is so much stronger than silver or gold. And if a chain gets hung up on something while a child is wearing it, you want it to be able to break. You don't want a child injured because a darn piece of jewelry didn’t break and stainless will not beak as easily as silver or gold. That's the mother in me, thanks for baring with me.
I have found through the years many times hearing, “my jewelry breaks”, “everything I wear breaks”, “it broke after wearing it one time”. These comments were mainly with gold and sterling silver. Rarely do I hear it if ever for stainless steel jewelry. To these comments I have a few kind of opinionated things to say.
Jewelry can for sure break. Silver will break much faster than gold and gold will break much more easily than stainless. It is all due to the hardness, the strength of the metal. But I will say that 99.9999% of jewelry does NOT break all by itself. There had to be some force applied to the piece of jewelry.
This is why I say, don't sleep in a delicate piece of jewelry. Many times sleeping in a chain causes hair to get stuck in it. A chain can get snagged on a sheet or a pillow. A herringbone-that gorgeous flat wide necklace can literally crimp by sleeping in one and man, they are not cheap! Don't wear jewelry while gardening or cleaning out the garage or at the gym.
Having said all this can you do all the above activities with your jewelry, yes you sure can. But these examples are when the jewelry breaking complaints have occurred. And when I buy jewelry, which honestly I buy a lot, I want the piece for many years to come. Okay, end of rant there.
A little about me and jewelry.
I just know you were dying to hear all about me. ;-) So here goes! I have always been a gold girl. So funny, when I was 19 I managed a jewelry store in Chicago. It was my first entrance into the jewelry world, a world I have never returned from. Growing up, I had no jewelry. Honestly, it was not something we could afford. The store I managed sold a little 14KT, sterling silver and vermeil - gold plated sterling silver jewelry. By the way, this vermeil line at the time came with a life time warranty. What the heck does a life time warranty tell you in many cases??? The product is being over charged for, just saying. Anyway, even with the discount I got for managing the store I still couldn't afford the gold so I went to the vermeil line. And I might add, I wore every length of chain additionally with a pendant on each chain. No matter what I wore, I had all of my glorious chains on.
Now vermeil is a touchy type of jewelry. Any plating on sterling silver generally ALWAYS comes off. Yup it does! Silver is just not the greatest bonding metal for gold and whatever you do, DO NOT put a gold plated piece of silver jewelry in any type of liquid, water or jewelry cleaning liquid. The gold will come off!
So I became a gold girl and it really is better on my skin tone anyway.
Moving along and I will leave out some of the boring details, I found myself in my own jewelry business selling gold. I did it via fund raisers for a fraternal ( made up of members who share an interest or purpose) organization with the telephone company call the Telephone Pioneers of America. Another detail, I know, I know.
I fell head over heels in love with gold.
Then one day sterling silver crept onto my world in a rather big way, it was around 1986. I bought $500.00 worth of sterling silver jewelry, wholesale and it almost sold out the very first show. Now that was remarkable!!!
As the years went on silver just really got delicious and woman really turned to it because you could get a whole set and I mean earrings, bracelet, necklace and a pendant AND a ring for $100-$200 and on top of that, you could really accessorize with your clothes. It was just fun fun fun for woman. I still didn't get too much silver as I was holding firm to my gold roots but in 2003 I found myself with a nationwide contract selling sterling silver in a big box store.
It took me a full three weeks to fall in love with sterling silver. And I mean bad! During those three weeks however I was a bit snotty towards the whole idea of silver and must admit I was above it all. Oh the true confessions of a jewelry lady. Any-who...very fast forward, silver goes up to almost $50.00 an ounce and really crushed the silver jewelry market. Many of my suppliers went bye-bye. Just plain sad.
It was almost magical as stainless steel appeared on the scene at almost the very moment silver spiked and really captured the hearts of many hard core and I really mean hard core, sterling silver buyers.
My very favorite piece of jewelry is my stainless steel BOLD rose pendant. We designed our own rose set with earrings, rings and a bracelet even though I'm not particularity a set person we did it anyways. My second very favorite piece of jewelry is my stainless dome ring. Both these pieces are bold jewelry. Both these pieces have traveled far and wide. Both these pieces of jewelry get the most compliments of anything I wear and I have lots that I wear. Both these pieces of jewelry look brand new and I could sell them to you without you knowing I've had them for years.
Both these pieces of jewelry In Silver are so darn inexpensive it's almost a crime.
I had a woman buy one of our stainless roses in Fountain Valley, CA. On her way to the register to pay, as I was selling in the big box store, she said I want to talk to you when I get back. Of course I am generally always open to communication but was unprepared with what she was going to say. She said, “you are selling this piece too cheap. Raise your price!”
Again, that was on a 316L stainless steel piece of jewelry. By the way, we will only manufacture with 316L. It looks closest to sterling because of the polishing it goes through and that's what we want. So we pay more for that look besides the other qualities of 316L.
My overall point on the above story which is still apparently all about me ;-) is that stainless steel jewelry is here, it has arrived, it really is the new sterling silver. If you want something that is durable, you don't have to worry about polishing, you can wear in the garden or in the shower if you forget, that is affordable, that looks like sterling silver but at least half the price, stainless steel it is your new metal.
If you want to get down and dirty and all technical here you go.
Stainless steel contains the following: at least 10% chromium- a hard brittle element, it may include a smaller amount of nickel-a silvery white metal, molybdenum-a silver white metallic element, niobium-a lustrous light gray metallic element and titanium- a hard silver gray metal.
Chromium, a hard brittle element, is the one important element because it combines with oxygen to form a thin concealed layer of chrome-containing oxide. This layer is protective and makes it “stainless”. However stainless steel isn't actually stainless, it got it's name because it is highly resistant to corrosion.
To go on just a little bit further technically here, for the making of jewelry there are two basic grades of stainless steel, 304 and 316L. So what is the difference? It is the presence of molybdenum. The molybdenum gives the stainless steel a much higher degree of resistance to corrosion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I wish you much success in your new adventure into the kingdom of stainless steel. If you have already found it, carry on and let me know about any good treasures you find. We will let you know about our treasures and I look forward to chatting with you sometime!
Mary Elizabeth Glosup
The Jewelry Lady