Everything You Need to Know About Stainless Steel Engagement Rings
When you think of an engagement ring, stainless steel probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Traditional engagement rings are typically made of yellow gold, white gold, silver, or platinum—but stainless steel? Not so much. Until recently, that is. Technology has made it possible to turn stainless steel into beautiful fine jewelry and these engagement rings are quickly becoming a more affordable option.
While it might not sound quite as fancy or luxe as some of the other popular metals out there, stainless steel is a solid option with plenty of advantages. We consulted with experts Kim Kanary and Anubh Shah to share everything you need to know about stainless steel engagement rings.
What Is Stainless Steel?
“Stainless steel is an alloy that is often made of primarily chromium, iron, and nickel,” Kanary explains. “The high chromium content in combination with a low carbon content makes for a particularly anti-corrosive, anti-tarnish material.” And you should expect to see more of these rings. “Stainless steel rings, along with other steel jewelry, are quickly becoming some of the most popular styles on the market,” Kanary adds.
Pros of Stainless Steel Rings
Maybe the biggest advantage of a stainless steel ring is how durable it is. “Whereas other metals like gold and silver are at about a 2.5-3 on the Mohs scale of hardness, stainless steel is in the range of 5.6-5,” Kanary says. “Its stability, or resistance to chemical attack, is also important because this is what prevents tarnishing and corrosion, which in practicality means that it has a long life span and is easy to maintain.”
That’s a pretty big deal: “Meaning it will not rust and likely will not need as much polishing and maintenance as other fine metals,” says Shah. “Stainless steel also does not need to be rhodium plated to preserve its shine and color.”
A nice bonus is that it’s environmentally friendly. “It’s 100 percent recyclable, and it takes a relatively low amount of energy to manufacture,” Kanary says. If finding a sustainable ring is important to you, this could be a great choice. And, of course, it’s cost-effective and is considered a low-cost alternative to other popular metals, like platinum and gold. “It is not as risky to wear, and if lost, it’s not as expensive to replace,” Shah points out.
Cons of Stainless Steel Rings
Although this metal might be sounding pretty good right about now, it’s worth pointing out the negatives to it as well. Stainless steel rings may sometimes pass for white gold, but it’s never going to look exactly the same as white gold or something like platinum. “Stainless steel has a stark metallic shine that certainly looks a bit less premium than the softer glow of white gold or the patina of platinum,” Shah says.
And since you’re paying less for stainless steel, it only makes sense that it doesn’t have a high resale value either. It’s not considered a fine metal, and so it’s not thought of as an heirloom. “From a long-term investment vantage point, they don’t uphold their value quite as well as some other materials such as gold or platinum,” Kanary says.
Lastly, you may have trouble finding the stainless steel ring of your dreams. They are just starting to become more popular, which means there aren’t as many options out there. If you’re set on diamonds, this might also pose a challenge. “It’s uncommon to find diamonds set in stainless steel, so you may have to go with an alternative like cubic zirconium instead,” Shah says.
What to Look for In a Stainless Steel Ring
If you think stainless steel is for you, Kanary recommends finding a trusted jeweler. “There are over 150 types of stainless steel, not all of which are suitable for jewelry,” she points out. “It most often has a neutral silver luster, but it can have a brushed antique look, geometric patterns, and anodized coatings.” Research what you want before you look, then work with someone you trust to find it.
How to Care for a Stainless Steel Ring
Stainless steel doesn’t require a ton of maintenance, but you will want to clean it sometimes. Kanary recommends using a soft polishing cloth to wipe away fingerprints and grease. “Do remember that many cloths have microfibers that can actually scratch materials, so make sure that you get a proper polishing cloth,” she adds.
Shah recommends that when you remove it, you should store it on its own and away from other jewelry pieces. “This will ensure that it doesn’t get scratched or damaged and that the prongs stay secure.”