If you wear diffuser jewelry, you probably know that you can find a good variety of designs made from a range of different metals. For durability and quality, as well as the way it looks, surgical stainless steel is the best possible choice of materials for a number of reasons. In fact, top quality diffuser jewelry is made exclusively from 316L surgical grade stainless steel, a type of steel commonly used by the medical industry because it is highly corrosion resistant, hypo-allergenic, and will not degrade or lose integrity in any way, even in the presence of corrosive substances.
So, What Is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that contains at least 10.5% of chromium, as well as carbon, manganese, nickel, silicon and molybdenum in varying degrees. The chromium forms a passive layer on the surface of the material (a thin coating that prevents surface corrosion), and in higher grades of stainless steel, more molybdenum may be added to give the steel enhanced qualities.
A Little History of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel came about around the turn of the 20th century, when a British metallurgist discovered that a particular type of steel with 13% chromium had not corroded after a long period of time. Several prior attempts to produce acid resistant steel were made in the 1820s, though the perfect balance of alloys seemed to be illusive. Scientists at the time were experimenting with making steel with high chromium levels, but did not yet know the importance of having a low carbon content. This was the discovery that set the stage for its future success, but as far as the final formulation goes, it took another three decades to perfect.
In 1911, a pair of German scientists, P. Monnartz and W. Borchers, published several papers. One was on the correlation between chromium and corrosion resistance, and another on molybdenum for the same purpose. A year or so later, Harry Brearley, a researcher at Brown Firth Laboratories, was asked by an arms manufacturer to come up with an erosion resistant material for their gun barrels. This task led to the first iteration of stainless steel as we know it.
Though there are many folk tales about how Beardsley came to name the stuff, he went on to apply what he learned to private industry. Realizing its potential for cutlery manufacturing, he partnered with a fellow scientist who helped him to perfect the process for making knives. The original name for it was almost ‘rustless steel’ but because of its resistance to discoloration in vinegar and other acidic substances, it finally became the ‘stainless steel’ that we know today.
There are many types of stainless steel – probably about 200 when it’s all said and done. The end application determines which type and grade is most appropriate. Each have their own characteristics, which include heat resistance, magnetic or anti-magnetic properties, corrosion resistance, machinability, pliability and hardness.
304 Stainless Steel
The most common type of stainless steel is 304, a non-magnetic steel that has very high oxidation and corrosion resistance, meaning it will not rust – however, it will tarnish. In the home, this is the stainless steel used for kitchen sinks, faucets, cooking utensils, cutlery, table tops, coffee pots, and appliances. In industrial settings, it is the grade preferred for dairy operations, piping, valves, and milk trucks. It is also used in the brewing industry, the dying industry, and in all kinds of commercial food production. 304 stainless steel is preferred for any application where a non-corrosive, low-wearing steel is important.
316 Stainless Steel
316 stainless steel is used when even more corrosion resistance is needed. It is also non-magnetic, and what differentiates it from 304 is that it contains a higher level of molybdenum. Molybdenum increases the anti-corrosive properties, making it resistant to highly caustic substances such as solvents and other industrial chemicals. It is because of this level of corrosion resistance that it is used in the paper pulp industry, as well as to make printing inks, photographic chemicals, bleaches, rubber and rayon. It is also used in harsh marine environments, and lastly, in surgical tools and implants that are intended to stay in the human body.
316L stainless steel is a version of stainless steel that has a lower level of carbon (the L is for “low”). It is more weldable than 316, meaning that if it is welded, it will be far less likely for the weld to fail for any reason, which is a very desirable characteristic when you’re talking about wearable items, like jewelry.
The Benefits of Surgical Stainless Steel Versus Silver in Jewelry Making
The anti-corrosive and hypoallergenic nature of 316L surgical stainless steel is precisely what makes it so ideal for the medical industry; implants and other medical devices are made from this type of stainless steel, as it easily tolerates the body’s harsh environment.
Beauty and Strength
All high-tech applications aside, the very characteristics that make 316L surgical stainless steel good for medical use are the same reasons it is such an excellent medium for making jewelry. It may take a little more effort to bend and shape, but the result is guaranteed to hold the integrity of its design for a good long time, and its finish won’t corrode or degrade, no matter what you do to it. It is resistant to rust and other by-products of oxidation, such as tarnishing, which is an unfortunate characteristic of most silver jewelry.
While sterling silver is generally safe to wear, some people still have allergies to silver, nickel or copper. Some sterling silver jewelry manufacturers will plate their pieces with rhodium to prevent it from tarnishing, but this coating will likely erode over time. Additionally, there are plenty of ‘fakes’ out there – silver pieces that are marked 925, but actually have a higher degree of other metals, like nickel. As with most things, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, people who take certain medications are constantly having to replace their treasured jewelry because gold and silver will pit and discolor in the presence of certain chemicals. This issue is non-existent with surgical stainless steel.
Any accessory or piece of jewelry that is going to be put to a lot of use will last longer if it’s made from stainless steel. For key chains, bracelets, pendants or lanyards, surgical stainless steel is preferred, as it can take a beating and still retain its finish and beauty.
The Highest Quality Diffuser Jewelry Is Made from 316L Surgical Stainless Steel
Much high-quality jewelry is made from 316L surgical stainless steel. It is not only beautiful, but it is durable, and hypoallergenic, meaning it will not cause a reaction when worn next to the skin. Ear and body piercings are done exclusively with 316L surgical stainless steel, and it is the perfect medium for diffuser jewelry, because it will not discolor, corrode or fall apart, even with extended contact with essential oils.
Essential oils are highly irritating when applied directly to the skin, and some have the potential to cause a lot of damage if used improperly. When you wear diffuser jewelry, you will be wearing it very close to the body, so it is very important to remain safe under any circumstances. By choosing diffuser jewelry that is made from 316L surgical stainless steel, you can be assured that your piece will not degrade or corrode from contact with the essential oils, and that there will never be a danger of the undiluted oils coming in direct contact with your skin.
Discover Anjaca’s Lifescent Collection Today
Anjaca diffuser jewelry is made exclusively from 316L surgical stainless steel, providing you with designs that are as beautiful and unique as they are durable and safe. Browse our selection of diffuser necklaces, pendants and bracelets today; our classic designs are made to stand the test of time, and we know you will enjoy them for many years to come.
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