Stainless steel jewelry is a great, good looking and cost-effective option to more expensive jewelry such as gold or silver jewelry. They are also really durable and maintain their shine for longer and can be used on almost any occasion as they are not just shiny, they are also versatile, making it easy to fall in love with them.
Does stainless steel jewelry tarnish or rust? The truth is that stainless steel jewelry can and does tarnish and rust, mainly because of the use of the jewelry over time, though when compared to other jewelry materials, the tarnishing time of the stainless steel jewelry is very long. Also, stainless steel jewelry is generally rust-resistant because of the chromium plating on the material.
The fact that stainless steel jewelry is rust-resistant doesn’t mean it is rustproof, because of a number of variables. Even we discussed the stainless steel jewelry ring that turns your finger green. Knowing the nature of your stainless steel jewelry will help in the event of corrosion and loss of luster, which is why we’ve written this post for you.
Reasons Why Stainless Steel Jewelry can Rust and Tarnish
There are a number of reasons why stainless steel jewelry can rust and tarnish but here are we will discuss only 4 main reasons which are one of the biggest reasons for the rust and tarnishing of stainless steel jewelry. So, read this post carefully with our detailed guide about stainless steel jewelry.
1) Grade of the Stainless Steel Used in Jewelry
This is a great determinant of whether or not your stainless steel jewelry will tarnish or rust. Stainless steel comes in grades, and with those grades come different metals, such as chromium, nickel, molybdenum, etc. These metals are in varying degrees and can each affect the finished product of the stainless steel.
For example, there are high-quality stainless steel grades, such as 316F, 316L, etc. These grades are hypoallergenic (they do not trigger any allergic reaction in humans) and they also have a higher molybdenum content than that of other grades, such as the 304 or the 202, and this helps them be more corrosion resistant.
2) The type of Cleaners used to Clean Your Jewelry
Stainless steel jewelry does get dirty, and when it does, you need to clean it. Now, the type of cleaners used to clean them also determines if they will tarnish or rust, because if you use cleaners that are not suitable, you will damage your jewelry, making it tarnish or rust.
The right types of cleaners are pieces of cotton cloths, old toothbrushes with soft bristles, cotton wool, etc. These cleaners would ensure maximum cleaning and extremely minimal damage; if there will be even any at all, to your jewelry prices.
Cleaners like toothbrushes with hard bristles, toothpaste with whitening agents and cleaners for materials such as silver, copper or brass will damage your stainless steel jewelry and make it tarnish or rust quickly. Toothpaste with whitening agents are abrasive and harsh and will scratch your stainless steel jewelry, the same goes for cleaners that are meant for brass or copper.
So, extra care has to be taken when cleaning your stainless steel jewelry so you don’t cause more harm than good.
3) The type of Water the Jewelry is Submerged in
Stainless steel jewelry is not really a friend to water, though the type of water matters. Stainless steel jewelry can be used in the shower without any hassle, just make sure you dry it thoroughly afterward. However, using your stainless steel jewelry in the swimming pool is a no-no, simply because the chlorine in the pool’s chlorinated water reacts negatively with most metals, and the protective chromium plating of your stainless steel jewelry not withstanding, your jewelry would be seriously tarnished and would rust in no time if care if not taken.
It is the same for beach water, as the salt content reacts negatively with your stainless steel jewelry and causes tarnishing and eventual rusting.
4) Scratches to the Jewelry
Scratches to your jewelry can cause it to tarnish quickly and rust, because as the chromium plating gets scratched, the metal underneath is exposed to the atmosphere, and in a short while, it would come in contact with moisture and oxidization will take place, which would signal the beginning of the end for your stainless steel jewelry if you don’t care for it adequately and quickly.
Things that can cause scratches are the cleaners you use when cleaning your jewelry, etc.
Does Gold Plated Stainless Steel Tarnish?
Gold plated stainless steel jewelry is stainless steel jewelry that has a coating of gold over the base metals.
Gold plated stainless steel jewelry will tarnish, with the reason being the passage of time combined with the frequency of use, and also because of the very fragile nature of the plating of gold.
Generally, gold plated jewelry falls into three categories, which are;
1) Heavy gold plating: 2.5 microns
2) Normal Gold plating: 0.5 microns
3) Minimal gold plating: 0.175 microns
How jewelry is plated with gold is called electroplating, and pictures it like the piece of jewelry being coated with gold and then shot with the current of electricity such that the end result is a thin film of gold coating the jewelry.
The reason gold plated jewelry would rust is because the base metals have molecules and these molecules will seep into the softer gold plating and break the gold plating down. After this, the base metals are exposed to the atmosphere and moisture and naturally, humidity takes place.
This is why we advise you that you SHOULD NOT use your gold plated jewelry anywhere near water because if not, to gold will wear off and you’d be left with rapidly corroding pieces of jewelry.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Though stainless steel jewelry is one of the most durable and versatile types of jewelry to use, the common issues that befall jewelry also befall them, but with this post, we have shown you what causes your stainless steel jewelry to rust or tarnish, so you can know how to avoid it.
In case your stainless steel jewelry is already tarnishing, don’t worry; just go here to learn how you can clean and care your stainless stell Jewelry.