Your Guide to...Steel
In the final part of our look at alternative jewellery metals we discuss stainless steel and particularly Sheffield steel, a fabulous material entirely manufactured in our own city…
Steel is a bright, durable and strong material that like our other alternative jewellery metals is also affordable, making it ideal for weightier pieces that might cost many times more in platinum or gold. It is used extensively for watches, cufflinks and the clasps of leather bracelets. Steel takes a highly polished finish well and is brighter than metals such as titanium or tungsten carbide which can often have a greyish look.
PA Jewellery’s home city of Sheffield is steeped in the history of the steel industry and the metal remains right at the heart of the city’s identity. Although the great steelworks may be fewer, new talent has emerged in recent years, showcasing the versatility of the metal. We stock the unique, handcrafted collections of Bailey of Sheffield and Jessica Flinn.
Bailey of Sheffield produce a completely customisable range of bracelets and beads suitable for both men and women, completely handcrafted in Sheffield using Sheffield steel. The bracelets themselves are produced in marine grade 316L cable (high grade steel otherwise used in surgical instruments). This is hypoallergenic and has the maximum level of corrosion resistance and durability. It is tested to the highest standards to ensure it will stand up to whatever the wearer can throw at it; you can wear your Bailey bracelet all the time and it carries a ‘more than lifetime’ guarantee.
The bracelets are available in a range of standard sizes or can be ordered in bespoke lengths for a perfect fit. Both bracelets and beads can be customised with a selection of PVD (physical vapour deposition) colours. Used here aesthetically, this technique also has applications in engineering and creates a durable coloured finish to the metal. It interrupts the surface, adding 2-4 microns to the depth and becoming a part of the material; it is designed to be worn all the time. Choices include matte or polished black and rose or yellow gold colours. The petrol option gives a completely unique appearance, starting out somewhere between green and blue to purple and gold, altering over time to a lighter golden colour.
Also handcrafted and sourced locally are our Sheffield steel rings by Jessica Flinn. Here too, bespoke design offers flexibility and means you don’t need to compromise. We have a range of sample rings in stock but if you need the band wider or narrower or prefer a brushed or polished finish then the choice is yours. You can personalise the design with different profiles, bevelled or stepped edges or stylish groove detail. Each ring features the ‘Made in Sheffield’ mark inside.
If you want something a bit different then you might like Jessica Flinn’s Damascus steel rings. These are still handcrafted locally although the required blend of steel grades is not sourced in Sheffield. This technique involves folding and refolding layers of slightly different grade steel to form the flowing patterns. Each ring is completely unique, the folded pattern giving a different look each time, usually creating an appearance like a fingerprint or woodgrain.
Steel jewellery is a great way to celebrate connections to the ‘steel city’, especially with locally handcrafted products supporting local craftspeople and suppliers. It also offers practical advantages, being suitable for wearing all the time. Like other alternative jewellery metals, it also has limitations: for instance, a steel ring cannot be resized so if your finger alters an entirely new ring is the only option. With this in mind, you can wear and enjoy your steel jewellery without a worry; it will endure all that life can demand of it.
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