Stainless steel jewelry can be beautiful, nearly indestructible, and a great cost effective substitute for Sterling Silver.
But did you know that not all Stainless Steel jewelry is created equal?
I sure didn’t, not until I started working with Stainless Steel in our jewelry designs.
There are several different types of stainless steel. They include Martensitic, Ferritic, and Austenitic stainless steel.
But what’s the difference?
Other than the fact that some of them are magnetic and are also more likely to develop things like rust and gross tarnish (I learned this the hard way when we got a bad batch of clasps that were Ferritic steel, and had to pitch them after the testing period. All of them.), some contain more nickel. Like, lots more nickel.
And if you have a nickel allergy, that’s a bad bad thing to have in your jewelry.
Wait, isn’t stainless steel Nickel Free?
No. Stainless steel has nickel. It’s part of what makes some grades so shiny, and durable. However, some types of stainless contain less nickel than others.
When you go to a cheap jewelry store, and you pick something up that says ‘stainless steel’ on the tag you might be getting stainless steel that is going to turn funky colors, or worse: RUST!
Ok. So how do I avoid ‘bad’ stainless steel jewelry?
Ask what grade it is. If the store clerk, or designer doesn’t know then chances are it’s not something you want to buy. Look for steel jewelry marked 316L (surgical steel) or better yet 304 stainless steel.
316L grade stainless is Surgical Steel. It’s a low nickel steel used in surgical instruments, and other medical equipment. It’s considered hypoallergenic, and won’t get gross tarnish or rust.
304 grade stainless is even better. It’s lower nickel than 316L, which makes it an even better choice if you have a nickel sensitivity. It also wont get nasty tarnish or rust.
What does Serenity in Chains use?
We use both 316L and 304 stainless steel, although whenever possible we use 304 stainless. It’s better, stronger, and less likely to irritate a nickel allergy. Our steel clasps are 304 stainless steel, as is all of our steel chainmail jewelry.
I have a nickel allergy, so I know the difference between wearing a high grade piece of stainless steel jewelry, and the cheap high nickel junk.
No body needs to break out in a sudden rash because of cheap steel jewelry. In the words of Sweet Brown: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!