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Is Stainless Steel Jewelry Waterproof Enough: SS Jewelry Durability & Life Span Explained

Stainless steel makes one of the most versatile jewelry. It is waterproof with strong intrinsic features, which makes it ideal for use in any environment and activity, including swimming in the pool or when stuck in the rain.

Hence, if you are the type who forgets to remove jewelry before getting into the shower or always loves to have your jewelry on at the beach, stainless steel is a reliable option.

But the question worth asking is how good is stainless steel jewelry waterproof, especially since all jewelry have a limit they can remain in contact with water.

Is 100% Stainless Steel Jewelry Waterproof?

The answer is YES. However, stainless steel jewelry is only 100% waterproof when exposed to pure water. If it comes in contact with water mixed with chemicals like chlorine or saltwater, it might tarnish.

Typically, stainless steel is made up of various compounds, such as chromium, carbon, nickel, molybdenum, iron, nickel, etc. This composition makes it resistant to corrosion when exposed to pure water. Even when exposed to unclean water, stainless steel has more capacity to fight against corrosion than other metals.

Amongst the several compounds used in the formation of stainless steel, chromium is the most important and must be at least 10%. This is because chromium is the specific compound that makes stainless steel waterproof.

How does it work?

When your stainless steel jewelry is exposed to water, chromium combines with oxygen to create a thin, hard, and resistant oxide layer, which repels any adverse effect possible. The formed layer is so thin that it cannot be seen with the naked eye; you would need a transmission electron microscope.

Is Rhodium-Plated Stainless Steel Jewelry Waterproof?

Rhodium is a rare, shiny, and precious metal that’s popularly reverenced for its brilliance and reflective finish.

Rhodium-plating is the process of applying a thin layer of rhodium on the surface of a base metal to enhance the beauty and durability. Rhodium is quite tough, thus it offers some level of protection against damaging elements.

So, is rhodium-plated stainless steel jewelry really waterproof?

No, it is not waterproof. Rather, it’s sweatproof. It can only withstand light splashes of water, as it’s not designed for prolonged immersion or harsh water conditions. At most, it’s great for activities involving perspiration.

Is Gold-Plated Stainless Steel Jewelry Waterproof?

Whether gold-plated stainless steel jewelry is waterproof or not depends on the type of PVD plating technique used, the thickness of gold applied, and the purity of the gold.

There are various types of PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) techniques, such as sputter deposition, evaporation deposition, electroplating with PVD assistance, and ion plating. Also, the thickness of gold applied matters, as it determines the rigidity of the jewelry when exposed to water. Therefore, if a thin layer of gold is applied, your jewelry will not be able to withstand prolonged contact with water. On the other hand, if a thicker layer of gold is applied, your jewelry will be very hard to penetrate.

Additionally, the purity of the applied gold matters i.e., how pure is the gold. There are different purity of gold. They include:

  • 10K: Contains 41.7% pure gold and 58.3% other metals.
  • 12K: Contains 50% pure gold and 50% other metals.
  • 14K: Contains 58.5% pure gold and other metals.
  • 18K: Contains 75% pure gold and 25% other metals.
  • 22K: Contains 91.7% pure gold and 8.3% other metals
  • 24K: Contains 100% pure gold

The more the pure gold, the more shiny and waterproof your jewelry is. Generally, it’s recommended that you use 18K and above for gold plating.

Is It OK to Wear Stainless Steel Jewelry While Swimming?

Swimming pool water is often treated with chlorine, which is a damaging chemical to jewelry. Chlorine is needed in the pool for its aggressiveness towards germs, but it’s also aggressive to stainless steel. When your stainless steel jewelry is deep into chlorinated water, it accelerates corrosion.

 Lady Swimming in Stainless Steel Jewelry

However, there are high grades of stainless steel jewelry, such as 316L that can withstand up to 2-5 Parts Per Million (PPM) corrosion from chlorinated water. These grades of jewelry contain a large quantity of molybdenum, which is a chemical that protects against rust.

Can You Wear Stainless Steel Jewelry 24/7?

Stainless steel doesn’t tarnish, wear, or corrode, making it suitable for round-the-clock wear. Thanks to its properties, waterproof nature, and resistance against extreme conditions, it can be worn 24/7 without adverse effects.

Can You Shower with Stainless Steel Jewelry?

It’s good to bathe with very clean water. For this reason, some people put chlorine in their bathing water to kill bacteria and protect from diseases. Another cleaning measure used by everyone is bathing soaps and lotions. If your bathing products contain harsh chemicals, your jewelry can end up corroded.

Generally, your stainless steel jewelry can be used in the shower on the condition that you don’t use chlorine and other harsh cleaning solutions.

Life Span of Normal Stainless Steel Jewelry 

The lifespan of normal stainless steel jewelry depends on the various factors, such as the quality of the metal used in its making, the jewelry design, and the extreme conditions it is exposed to.

With high-quality metal, durable design, and conducive conditions, your stainless steel jewelry will last for many years without showing any sign of wear or tarnish.

On the other hand, low-quality metal, poor design, and harsh conditions can make your stainless steel jewelry deteriorate within a short time.

Better SS Jewelry Options to Withstand Water

These are some of the best stainless steel jewelry you can trust to withstand water and maintain their sparkle:

  • 316L Stainless Steel Jewelry: This is a stainless steel jewelry with large composition of molybdenum, which improves its resistance to several forms of corrosion, as well as exposure to water and sweat. This makes it one of the go-to options when looking for jewelry that can withstand moisture without tarnishing or rusting.
  • Stainless Steel Jewelry Made from PVD Technology: This involves applying a layer of another metal onto the stainless steel jewelry surface to boost its resistance to wear, corrosion, and tarnishing. The metal coating doesn’t just make your jewelry more durable and ideal for prolonged exposure to water, it also helps maintain the original appearance of the stainless steel jewelry regardless of frequent use.
  • PVD TIN Layer: This involves the application of a hard, thin layer of Titanium Nitride (TIN) onto the surface of your stainless steel jewelry. In addition to enhancing the look of the jewelry by giving it a gold-like color, it offers a protective barrier against water, guaranteeing that your stainless steel jewelry remains intact and free from rusting.

Tips to Elongate Stainless Steel Jewelry’s Life

Even though stainless steel jewelry is extremely tough and impenetrable by water, it still needs to be cared for to last longer. Here are simple tips you can apply to elongate your stainless steel jewelry’s life:

  • While stainless steel is resistant to scratches and dents, it is still destructible. During activities that involve contact with sharp objects or abrasive elements, it is important to remove your jewelry beforehand.
  • Clean your stainless steel jewelry frequently to keep it shiny and new. Simply use a soft, clean towel and a mild cleaning solution. Do not use abrasive cloth or harsh cleaning solutions.
  • Store your stainless steel jewelry in a soft cloth bag when you are not wearing it. Do not keep it where it can get tangled with other objects or scratch by tougher materials.

Key Takeaway

Are you seeking jewelry that’s strong, attractive, and waterproof? Stainless steel jewelry is your best bet. It is strong, durable, good for sensitive skin, and waterproof. It’s suitable for any condition, including the beach, rain, shower, pool, etc.
Although, there are different grades of stainless steel jewelry and only the high-graded ones can be trusted to withstand water and other damaging elements. Therefore, it’s important you consult a professional custom jewelry manufacturer for the best quality that can be worn 24/7 in any condition without worries.

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