Facts About Jewelry Metals and Treatments

Boost your knowledge of types of Jewelry Metals

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a kind of steel, which itself is an alloy of iron and carbon. Chromium is added to stainless steel to make it corrosion resistant. When chromium reacts with oxygen it produces a transparent skin that protects the steel from rusting. The percentage of chromium that makes steel stainless is at least 10.5 percent. Other metals that can go into making stainless steel include titanium, nickel and molybdenum. Stainless steel does not have to be polished until it is blindingly bright but can have a soft, attractive matte or satiny finish.

People may wonder if there is any difference between the stainless steel that goes into making jewelry and the stainless steel that goes into constructing buildings. The answer is probably not. The stainless steel used most often for jewelry is 304 or 316L. Both have chromium and nickel, while 316L also has about 3 percent molybdenum. Both types of stainless steel are used in construction, and 316L is the same stainless steel used for making prosthetics such artificial hips. It is the stainless steel of choice for people who’ve just gotten their ears or other parts of the body pierced. These types of steel are also austenitic, which means they are non-magnetic and can withstand very high temperatures besides being corrosion resistant and strong.

Despite its great strength, stainless steel is quite ductile and malleable and a good choice for certain types of jewelry. Stainless steel jewelry does not have to be plated, so most wearers will not have an allergic reaction even though it does contain small amounts of nickel. This is good news if the jewelry is going to be worn throughout the heat and humidity of the summer, when skin reactions are at their worst.

Because it is as tough as it is, stainless steel jewelry doesn’t need pampering. Wash it in warm, soapy water, rinse it thoroughly, and let it air dry on a clean towel. Place it in its own soft bag so it doesn’t scratch and isn’t scratched by other pieces of jewelry.


Ion plating is an exciting and new modern technique used for a variety of applications. Within the jewelry and watch trade, this process is used to apply a hardwearing and durable finish to products. Primarily, it is used to complete accessories crafted from stainless steel. Read on and gain a new understanding of this fascinating technique.


Five to eight times more durable than traditional methods.
• Less material is required for coating, lowering prices.
• Available in many attractive colors such as black, rose gold and yellow gold.
• The finish can be highly polished or matte, and options in-between.
• Stainless steel offers a hardwearing, reliable base.

This process has quickly gained a strong following, and with reason! Ion plating is very durable compared to traditional techniques. Experimentation has shown that this new method can be five to eight times more durable. This makes ion plated jewelry and accessories a rugged option for daily wear.

The coating material is applied in a very thin layer. Thanks to the bonding process that is utilized, less material is needed to coat the item. This can drastically reduce costs when manufacturing products in bulk. And, of course, this ultimately drives down prices for consumers.

1. Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper alloy. Sometimes a person will see 925 or “Sterling” stamped on a piece of silver jewelry to let them know that it is sterling silver. Argenteum silver is a type of sterling silver with the addition of germanium, which makes the metal even harder and tarnish resistant.


Silver jewelry should never be placed in plastic bags but should be stored in flannel bags to prevent tarnishing. These bags are easily found in jewelry stores.