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When you think of an engagement ring, stainless steel probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Traditional engagement rings are typically made of yellow gold, white gold, silver, or platinum—but stainless steel? Not so much...until recently, that is. Technology has made it possible to turn stainless steel into beautiful fine jewelry and these engagement rings are quickly becoming a more affordable option.
What Is Stainless Steel?
“Stainless steel is an alloy that is often made of primarily chromium, iron, and nickel,” says certified diamontologist, Kim Kanary. “The high chromium content in combination with a low carbon content makes for a particularly anti-corrosive, anti-tarnish material.”
While it might not sound quite as fancy or luxe as some of the other popular metals out there, stainless steel is a solid option with plenty of advantages. We consulted with experts Kim Kanary and Anubh Shah to share everything you need to know about stainless steel engagement rings.
Meet the Expert
Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Rings
Maybe the biggest advantage of a stainless steel ring is how durable it is. “Whereas other metals like gold and silver are at about a 2.5-3 on the Mohs scale of hardness, stainless steel is in the range of 5.6-5,” Kanary says. “Its stability, or resistance to chemical attack, is also important because this is what prevents tarnishing and corrosion, which in practicality means that it has a long life span and is easy to maintain.”
That’s a pretty big deal: “Meaning it will not rust and likely will not need as much polishing and maintenance as other fine metals,” says Shah. “Stainless steel also does not need to be rhodium plated to preserve its shine and color.”
Aside from the fact that stainless steel is ideal for everyday wear, it also has a look that's remarkably similar to white gold.
Additionally, a nice bonus is that it’s environmentally friendly. “It’s 100 percent recyclable, and it takes a relatively low amount of energy to manufacture,” Kanary says. If finding a sustainable ring is important to you, this could be a great choice. And, of course, it’s cost-effective and is considered a low-cost alternative to other popular metals, like platinum and gold. “It is not as risky to wear, and if lost, it’s not as expensive to replace,” Shah points out.
Although this metal might sound pretty good, it’s worth pointing out the negatives to it as well. Stainless steel rings may sometimes pass for white gold, but it’s never going to look exactly like the other luxe metals. “Stainless steel has a stark metallic shine that certainly looks a bit less premium than the softer glow of white gold or the patina of platinum,” Shah says.
And since you’re paying less for stainless steel, it only makes sense that it doesn’t have a high resale value either. Since it’s not considered a fine metal, it’s typically not thought of as an heirloom.“From a long-term investment vantage point, they don’t uphold their value quite as well as some other materials such as gold or platinum,” Kanary says.
What to Look for In a Stainless Steel Ring
- Where should I shop for this type of ring? Stainless steel engagement rings are just starting to become more popular, so there aren’t as many options out there. If you’re set on diamonds, this might also pose a challenge. “It’s uncommon to find diamonds set in stainless steel, so you may have to go with an alternative like cubic zirconium instead,” Shah says. Despite this, a few places that specialize in stainless steel rings are Blue Steel and Etsy shops.
- How can I tell if the ring is high quality? If you think stainless steel is for you, Kanary recommends finding a trusted jeweler. “There are over 150 types of stainless steel, not all of which are suitable for jewelry,” she points out. “It most often has a neutral silver luster, but it can have a brushed antique look, geometric patterns, and anodized coatings.” Research what you want before you look, then work with someone you trust to find it.
- How much do stainless steel rings cost? Stainless steel engagement rings are a budget-friendly option and are much less expensive than precious metals. Prices can start as low as $30, but there are higher-end options available as well.
How to Care for a Stainless Steel Ring
Stainless steel doesn’t require a ton of maintenance, but you will want to clean it sometimes. Kanary recommends using a soft polishing cloth to wipe away fingerprints and grease. “Do remember that many cloths have microfibers that can actually scratch materials, so make sure that you get a proper polishing cloth,” she adds.
Shah recommends that when you remove it, you should store it on its own and away from other jewelry pieces. “This will ensure that it doesn’t get scratched or damaged and that the prongs stay secure.”
Ahead, scroll through 20 stainless steel engagement rings.
This is an inexpensive take on a classic engagement ring with the halo and center stone. A simple stainless steel band and CZ diamonds make it really accessible.
This highly polished stainless steel ring is full of little details. The center CZ stone and surrounding smaller CZ stones on the band make this a budget-friendly version of a classic engagement ring.
This ring features a round center stone in a tall six-prong setting. It also comes with coordinating wedding bands so that you can match perfectly on your wedding day.
This simple engagement ring features a center CZ stone on a stainless steel band. It also has the option to add your own message to the inside of the band.
An oval-cut stone sits on top of this stainless steel band, accompanied by two pear-cut CZs on either side. This is a dazzling engagement ring look that is sure to sparkle.
With a marquise CZ stone, an intertwined band with smaller CZs, and a sparkling halo, this stainless steel ring looks like it could be made of true fine metal.
This incredibly thin stainless steel band is covered in tiny CZ diamonds for a super dainty and elegant look. It’s finished with a large cushion-cut CZ stone.
This trinity ring features three large CZ diamonds in the center and plenty of small ones flanking either side for extra sparkle. This works nicely with the stainless steel band.
The sea blue CZ stone set in the middle of this stainless steel ring is truly what sets it apart from the others. If you are looking to add a pop of color into your engagement ring, this is a stunning option.
Go bold with this wide band engagement ring! Wider engagement bands are great because they are more durable than a traditional thin band. This one stuns with a 3.87ct. CZ in the center.
This stainless steel engagement is an elegant and timeless option. The center CZ is accompanied by pavé CZ's.
If you are looking for an alternative to the silver-colored stainless steel band, opt for this rose gold ion-plated option. The center solitaire stone stands out amongst the rose-colored band.
This two-tone stainless steel engagement ring offers a modern style. The center CZ is held in a four-prong setting with two smaller CZ's on either side. The three rounded stones are accented with pavé CZ's.
You can't go wrong with this dazzling stainless steel engagement ring. The center CZ is complemented by pavé CZ's, adding a hint more of sparkle.
This simple and sophisticated stainless steel option features .64 round-cut CZ and smaller rounded CZ's on a split shank band.
For a modern and chic design, try this stainless steel band with an eye-catching center CZ flanked by baguette diamonds.
This gold stainless steel gold ion-plated holds a striking marquise-cut solitaire CZ in a six-prong setting.
This glamourous ring is sure to make a statement. The stainless steel band is donned with a center round-cut CZ and four princess-cut stones. The band also features filigree detailing for a unique touch.
If you are looking to combine sparkle and simple elegance, look no farther than this ring from Blue Steel. The stainless steel ring draws the eye to the two ivory pearls set on a petal design with CZ's. More CZ's are held on the band in a channel setting.