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Does stainless steel jewelry tarnish?

No, stainless steel jewelry does not tarnish. However, it is important to note that stainless steel jewelry is not completely “stainless” and can still accumulate dirt, dust, and other debris over time. It is important to take proper care of stainless steel jewelry to ensure that it stays looking its best.

Classic Striped Stainless Steel Dog Tag Pendant (9)
Classic Striped Stainless Steel Dog Tag Pendant

Chemical composition and properties of stainless steel

Stainless steel is an iron alloy in which the main component is iron, but also contains other elements, including chromium, nickel, molybdenum and manganese. Different compositions of stainless steel have different properties, but they all have anti-corrosion properties, which are provided by the chromium element in them.

The followings are the composition and properties of 3 stainless steels commonly used in jewelry manufacturing

  • 202 stainless steel
    Composition: chromium 17.0 to 19.0%, nickel 4.0 to 6.0%, molybdenum 2.0 to 3.0%, iron balance.
    Properties: corrosion resistance, high-temperature resistance, high strength, but a little lower than 304 stainless steel.
  • 304 stainless steel
    Composition: chromium 18.0 ~ 20.0%, nickel 8.0 ~ 10.5%, molybdenum 0.75%, iron balance.
    Properties: good corrosion resistance, and oxidation resistance, while having good strength and plasticity.
  • 316 stainless steel: contains 16% of chromium, 10% of nickel and 2% of molybdenum. More corrosion-resistant than the above two stainless steel, especially resistant to seawater and chemical corrosion.

The main properties of stainless steel include

  • Corrosion resistance: provided by the chromium in it, the formation of a dense chromium oxide film, so that the steel is not easily corroded.
  • Heat resistance: provided by the chromium and nickel elements in it, which can maintain good structural stability at high temperatures.
  • Strength: Stainless steel can be cold-worked and hot-worked to increase its strength and hardness.
  • Machinability: Stainless steel has good machinability and can be formed, cut and machined by various methods.
  • Aesthetics: Stainless steel has a bright, shiny surface, and can be polished and other treatments to improve its aesthetics.

Is stainless steel jewelry easy to tarnish compared to other metal jewelry?

Stainless steel jewelry is not easy to tarnish compared to other metal jewelry. This is because stainless steel has the characteristics of corrosion and oxidation resistance, and the oxide layer formed on its surface can effectively prevent the erosion of external factors, such as air, water, sweat, etc. And stainless steel has strong physical properties, not easy to be scratched and deformed, in daily wear is also not easy to wear and oxidation, so relatively durable.

Under what circumstances will stainless steel jewelry tarnish?

Stainless steel jewelry will not tarnish in general, but the following conditions may cause it to tarnish:

  • contact with other metals: stainless steel jewelry and another metal contact will occur an electrochemical reaction, resulting in chemical corrosion or may lead to discoloration.
  • close to wearing hand sweat viscosity: If stainless steel jewelry wears a long time in contact with hand sweat or other substances, may lead to discoloration.
  • Improper cleaning method: forceful cleaning of stainless steel jewelry or the use of chemicals will cause scratches or corrosion on the surface, and damage the stainless steel surface protection layer, resulting in stainless steel jewelry discoloration.
  • Offshore environment: If the stainless steel jewelry is exposed to the offshore environment, salt in seawater, humidity and climate may lead to discoloration of stainless steel jewelry.

Therefore, the correct care and use of stainless steel jewelry can make it a longer life.

How to clean and maintain stainless steel jewelry?

One of the best ways to clean stainless steel jewelry is to use a soft cloth and warm water. It is important to use a soft cloth to avoid scratching the surface of the jewelry and to make sure that the water is not too hot, as this may damage the protective layer of the surface. After cleaning, it is recommended to dry the jewelry with a soft cloth and avoid using paper towels or any other rough material.

More ways: Cleaning stainless steel jewelry

How to prevent stainless steel jewelry from tarnishing?

  • Avoid contact with chemicals: Avoid contacting stainless steel jewelry with chemicals, such as perfume, nail polish, cosmetics, etc., because these will form a chemical reaction on the surface of stainless steel, causing wear and fading of the surface.
  • Prevent contact with water: Avoid wearing stainless steel jewelry in wet environments, such as swimming pools, swimming, showers, baths, etc. Because the water contains chlorine and other chemical contaminants, will damage the protective layer of the stainless steel surface, resulting in jewelry discoloration.
  • Avoid friction: stainless steel jewelry is easy to be scratched, and it is recommended to avoid friction with other hard objects, such as metal, stones, etc.
  • Regular cleaning: regular cleaning of stainless steel jewelry can prevent the accumulation of dirt and oxidation, maintaining its surface brightness and protective layer.
  • Store well: when storing stainless steel jewelry, pay attention to prevent direct sunlight, humidity, and a high-temperature environment. Jewelry can be placed in a dry, cool, dark storage, avoiding exposure to the sun, otherwise, the stainless steel surface will lose its luster and discoloration.


Overall, stainless steel jewelry does not tarnish, but proper care and prevention are still important. This includes cleaning and polishing jewelry regularly, avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals, and storing it in a clean, dry place. With proper care and prevention, stainless steel jewelry can remain in top condition for many years.

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