Jewelry Metal: Stainless Steel
In the last few decades, stainless steel has become a popular metal in jewelry making. The significant properties like high resistance to corrosion, affordability, and low maintenance have contributed to boosting its status among jewelry lovers.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, which contains at least 10% chromium. It may also contain other metals such as nickel, copper, titanium or molybdenum, and small amounts of trace elements, depending upon the grade. The metal is corrosion resistant due to the presence of chromium. Chromium reacts with oxygen and moisture in the environment and forms a thin and strong protective oxide layer on the metal's outer surface.
Benefits of Using Stainless Steel in Jewelry Making
Durable– Stainless steel is a durable metal that does not tarnish, deform or damage easily. The stainless-steel jewelry is perfect to wear on an everyday basis as it does not rust, fade or scratch. You can buy it once, and it can last for a lifetime.
Affordable- When it comes to price, stainless steel jewelry is the most affordable one. The less expensive metal is a perfect option for those who want to buy budget jewelry.
Easy to maintain- The shiny metal is resistant to scratches, corrosion, heat, and general signs of aging. It does not require any special care. Just wipe it with a soft cloth or water once a week, and it is as good as new.
Hypoallergenic- Stainless steel jewelry is ideal for those who have sensitive skin. The metal is hypoallergenic and does not turn your skin green or any other color by reacting with water and oxygen.
Versatile Designs- designer stick to traditional designs in conventional gold and silver jewelry, but stainless steel is an exception. It offers a vast array of designs and styles. You can find some stunning bold pieces to artistic, handcrafted, engraved and carved ones too.
Grades of Stainless Steel
Jewelry makers use 3 different grades of stainless steel. Each grade has varying properties and characteristics. The selection of grade depends upon the type of jewelry item to be created.
It is the most common grade of stainless steel. The metal grade consists of iron, a minimum of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, and a maximum of 0.08% carbon. 304 grade stainless steel is non magnetic and has an excellent corrosion resistance property. 304 grade stainless steel is strong and lightweight.
316 Grade stainless steel is often called as marine-grade or surgical grade stainless steel. It comprises iron, a maximum of 0.08% carbon, 16-18% chromium and 10-14% nickel. 316 grade has the addition of 2-3% molybdenum, resulting in increased resistance to corrosion and strength in higher temperatures. The presence of molybdenum protects it in the harshest of corrosives. 316L Grade stainless steel has a lower carbon content than 316 grade. It is slightly softer and more malleable than straight 316 grade.
430 grade of stainless steel features iron, 16-18% chromium, a maximum of 0.12% carbon and 1% molybdenum, and less than 0.75% nickel. It is a magnetic alloy. It has less nickel and molybdenum content, resulting in lower corrosion resistance.