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.
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
What Is Stainless Steel?
“Stainless steel is an alloy that is often made of primarily chromium, iron, and nickel,” Kanary explains. “The high chromium content in combination with a low carbon content makes for a particularly anti-corrosive, anti-tarnish material.” And you should expect to see more of these rings. “Stainless steel rings, along with other steel jewelry, are quickly becoming some of the most popular styles on the market,” Kanary adds.
Pros 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 looks a lot nicer than you might be imagining. Shah says that it can have a look to it that is remarkably similar to white gold.
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.
Cons of Stainless Steel Rings
Although this metal might be sounding pretty good right about now, 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 the same as white gold or something like platinum. “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. It’s not considered a fine metal, and so it’s 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.
Lastly, you may have trouble finding the stainless steel ring of your dreams. They are just starting to become more popular, which means 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.
What to Look for In a Stainless Steel Ring
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 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 10 stainless steel engagement rings.
The Steel Shop Classic Halo Engagement Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: The Steel Shop, $45
Blue Steel Simply Yours Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Blue Steel, $55
Helzberg Diamonds Lab-Created White Sapphire Ring
If you want something slightly different, opt for this Helzberg ring. It features a lab-created white sapphire as the center stone with a double stainless steel band.
SHOP NOW: Helzberg Diamonds, $140
Three Tone Round Cut Stainless Steel 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.
SHOP NOW: Aroch Silver, $23
Personalized Quality Stainless Steel Engagement Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $20
Edwin Earls Traditional Princess Cut Wedding Engagement Set
A princess-cut stone sits on a stainless steel band with lots of little CZ diamonds embedded in it. This is a traditional engagement ring look with lots of sparkle.
SHOP NOW: Sears, $25
Marimor Marquise Engagement Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Marimor Jewelry, $32
Blue Steel Divinity Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Blue Steel, $77
The Steel Shop Round Trinity Engagement Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: The Steel Shop, $45
Stainless Steel Ring
A twisted stainless steel band is dotted with small CZ diamonds. The look is completed with a small center stone that gives off an elegant and simple look.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $22