316L STAINLESS STEEL
316L stainless steel (containing 10 to 13% nickel) also named surgical steel has uniform texture, it can go through salt spray test, with the characteristics of hard, anti-corrosion, and resistance to acid and alkali, it has been applied to aerospace, also known as space metal. Therefore, the 316L type of stainless steel is used for making high-end luxury jewelry.
Stainless steels of the 316 grade include less chromium — often around 16%. The molybdenum makes it harder, but as alloys get stronger, the weldability or molding tends to be more difficult. In most common alloys, you’ll find 10% nickel and 2 to 3% molybdenum. However, specialty alloys might have as much as 9% molybdenum.
ADVANTAGES OF 316L STAINLESS STEEL
Most stainless steel ordered around the world is Grade 304.
It offers the standard corrosion resistance, formability, strength, and easy maintenance for which stainless is known.
While 316L comes in second in terms of quantities sold, it offers vastly superior corrosion resistance to chlorides and acids.
This makes it popular for a wide range of environments—including:
- Medical equipment and implants
- Foodservice, processing, and preparation environments
- Coastal environments
- Areas with high salt levels (such as roadways)
- Brewing facilities
- Environments with increased exposure to alkalis and acids
CONTRAST OF COLORS
Stainless steel is a shiny silver metal. You can also check the fractures on the metal. Stainless steel’s fractures are silvery.
THE MAGENTIC TEST
For this test, you need to stick a magnet on the jewelry piece you wish to test. If the magnet holds firmly to the metal, the chances are that you are dealing with stainless steel.
If it doesn’t stick or if there is only a little magnetic attraction between the test piece and the magnet, then it means that you are dealing with another metal like aluminum or even silver.
It’s also important to note that there are cases where stainless steel is not very magnetic, and in such cases, you have to run other tests. The reason why stainless steel might not be magnetic has to do with the fact that the stainless steel material is often made of different metals, and also that stainless steel falls into different families.
The basic stainless steel structure is ferritic and magnetic. The magnetism results from the addition of chromium to the metal, as well as the addition of carbon, which creates a martensitic structure that’s seen in cutlery.
On the other hand, most of the stainless steel jewelry and metals around have an even higher content of chromium, and they also have nickel.
The addition of nickel results in a structural modification which makes 316 stainless steel non-magnetic. Therefore, most jewelry made of 316 stainless steel (one of austenitic stainless steels) is largely non-magnetic.
Therefore, if your jewelry is good-quality stainless steel, it should be non-magnetic or partially magnetic.
So, the magnetic test might have to be supplemented by other tests when determining whether a jewelry piece is made of real stainless steel or not.
Real 316L stainless steel does not and will not rust. So, if you notice the formation of brown rust on your ring, you should know that you are dealing with a contaminated piece of metal – the rust is possibly oxidized iron.
If you see a red or brown rust forming on the ring, it is likely the result of iron particles that have contaminated the surface of the steel. Take a look at the rusting and attempt to wipe it away with a rag using a solution made of even parts nitric and hydrofluoric acid. However, if the ring has rust on it, it is likely not 100% stainless steel.
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