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Waterproof Silver Jewelry: Materials Explained

silver jewelry in pool water

Jewelry that cannot withstand water means that you have to remove it every time you’re in contact with water, especially when bathing, swimming, or doing the dishes.

Because of this, many people have started focusing on purchasing quality jewelry that will save them the rigors of strict maintenance. Over the years, silver-tone jewelry has proven to be extraordinary, ticking all boxes thanks to its lower maintenance, versatility, attractiveness, and waterproof properties. But there are many to choose from.

In this blog, we will discuss the major waterproof silver jewelry materials and how extraordinary they are in producing fine jewelry pieces.

Silver Waterproof Jewelry Materials

When it comes to choosing the best materials for silver waterproof jewelry, stainless steel, and sterling silver are popular choices, especially because of their unique properties and lookalike.

  • Stainless Steel: This is a strong material that consists of primarily iron, and varying quantities of other metals like chromium and carbon. It’s quite heavy because of the large composition of iron, making it unsuitable for some types of jewelry because of its comfortability.
  • Sterling Silver: This material consists of 92.5% of pure silver and 7.5% of other metals. Pure silver is naturally flexible and breaks easily, hence why strong metals like copper and zinc are usually added for durability.
  • Brass Jewelry with Silver Plating: This is familiar with sterling silver jewelry.

Stainless Steel Waterproof Jewelry

Stainless steel is popularly revered for its lower price and versatility. Apart from resembling silver, it can be designed to look like gold. The material doesn’t oxidize because of its chromium content that helps prevent rusting and corrosion.

PVD Rhodium Plating to Make Stainless Steel Jewelry Waterproof

While stainless steel jewelry is strong and capable of resisting damaging components, it can be made to last longer with PVD Rhodium plating.

PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) Rhodium Plating is the process of applying a thin layer of rhodium onto stainless steel jewelry to withstand water, chemicals, scratches, dents, etc. This process creates a hard surface that protects the underlying stainless steel from wear and tear.

By the way, rhodium is a rare and precious metal known for its brilliant silver-white look and toughness. It offers a high-shine mirror-like finish that gives your jewelry a luxurious and sophisticated appearance.

Sterling Silver Waterproof Jewelry

Silver is a precious metal, so jewelry made from it has long-term value. It’s a soft and malleable material, making it a great choice for making various types of jewelry, especially those with intricate designs.

Rhodium Plating to Make Sterling Silver Jewelry Waterproof

Naturally, sterling silver has a classic bright white appearance that looks exceptionally beautiful when freshly polished. It offers a nice luster for jewelry, which is why it’s often sought-after.

With the inclusion of other metals like copper and zinc, sterling silver jewelry is produced to be strong and waterproof. They get even better when rhodium-plated.

Rhodium plating on sterling silver jewelry results in a glossy coating that gives the piece a reflective finish, similar to white gold or platinum. It provides a waterproof protective layer that helps maintain the appearance of the jewelry over a long time.

What is the Color of Rhodium Plating?

Rhodium plating is a silvery-white color. It’s bright and reflective, giving base metals a luxurious appearance. Generally, it improves the aesthetics of the jewelry, making it have a modern look and blend with any outfit.

Sterling Silver vs. Stainless Steel

letter necklace by Zearrow

Sometimes, sterling silver and stainless steel jewelry are hard to differentiate because of their identical look. However, these two materials are vastly different in terms of properties and capabilities.

Resistance to Water

The inclusion of other metals in sterling silver composition reduces the waterproof potency. It tend to tarnish when exposed to moisture and air.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, is innately hard and resistant to corrosion or rust, making it more excellent for making pieces that will be in contact with water more frequently.


Sterling silver is largely composed of a precious metal (pure silver), which is quite rare to find compared to stainless steel. Hence, it’s more expensive.

Stainless steel is a composition of various metals that are easy to find, making it more affordable. It’s a great material choice for people with a lower budget.


Sterling silver is usually alloyed with copper or zinc to improve its strength and durability. This is because its main component is silver, which is soft and prone to scratch more easily.

On the other hand, stainless steel is made with strong metals (iron being a large percentage of it). This material is exceptionally strong and guaranteed to last a lifetime under proper maintenance.


Sterling silver is more flexible and able to be made into complicated designs. It’s lighter, making it the best choice of material when seeking for a layered jewelry style. Because of the lightness, you won’t feel you’re carrying the weight of the world even if you have different designs layered together.

Stainless steel is less flexible and difficult to configure into intricate designs. It’s harder and stronger, making it resistant to bending. This rigidity limits the complexity of designs that can be produced.

Key Takeaway

Sterling silver and stainless steel are two reputable materials you can always refer to when seeking for silver-like waterproof jewelry. Even though they are both waterproof and hardly differentiable with visual appearance, they have varying compositions and properties.

With the details shared in this article, we trust that you can make an informed decision on which is best for your needs. However, at the end of the day, the producer you buy from determines the longevity and waterproof level of your piece. Hence, why we recommend you contact a professional custom jewelry manufacturer for more findings and purchase.

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