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316L Surgical Steel - Material Guide
316L Surgical Steel is by far the most used material for Piercing Jewelry. The name sometimes creates confusion, resulting in mistaken 316L Surgical Steel for Surgical Steel.
In this Material Guide we explain the difference. We also look into the Pros and Cons and inform you about taking proper care of your 316L Surgical Steel Jewelry.
Introduction to 316L Surgical Steel
316L Surgical Steel is high-quality stainless steel. To be more precise, it is part of 'Surgical Stainless Steel'. The material is robust, durable, and affordable. The combination of metals used to create 316L Surgical Steel offers the possibility to process it more easily than more hardened steels such as titanium. Later on this page we will dive deeper into the matter.
Although 316L Surgical Steel is the most used material for Piercing Jewelry worldwide, it is not suitable for everyone. People sensitive to metals, and Nickel in particular, can not stand it well. Luckily there are plenty of alternatives of Nickel-free Piercings, such as Titanium.
316L Surgical Steel is quite hard, which makes it more complicated to create the intricate details of piercings and earrings. To keep jewelry affordable, often a second material is used to create the fine details of the piece. Brass is the most common second material used because it is a resilient metal. Be aware that piercings and earrings made with brass are very sensitive to discoloration.
If you want to wear your 316L Surgical Steel jewelry for a long time, make sure to get one without added brass. You can find any second material, if used at all, on the 'more information' tab of the product page.
Pros and Cons
316L Surgical Steel Explained
316L Surgical Steel is the official name for a combination of metals creating this type of surgical stainless steel. The L stands for 'Low Carbon', an added element to increase hardness and tensile strength. Nickel, another element known to increase hardness, is added to make up for the low carbon amount. Although 316L Surgical Steel only contains trace amounts of nickel, this fact makes the material unsuited for people with a nickel allergy. The best alternatives are Titanium and 14 kt. Gold.
316L Surgical Steel is sometimes confused with Surgical Steel. While the names are very similar, the materials themselves are not. Without making things too complicated, the essential difference is that Surgical Steel is an 'Implant Grade' classified surgical steel. Amongst other distinctions, Surgical Implant Materials doesn't contain any Nickel at all. Surgical Steel is much more expensive than 316L Surgical Steel. Hence, most Piercing Jewelry on the market is made of 316L Surgical Steel instead. While some piercing studios use initial Piercing Jewelry made of Surgical Steel, most piercing artists will use Titanium Piercings.
"For people sensitive to metals, and Nickel in particular, Titanium or 14 kt. Gold are the best alternatives."
Piercing Jewelry in a shiny Silver color is always in demand. 316L Surgical Steel is polished and almost looks like Silver. In contrary to actual Sterling Silver, 316L Surgical Steel will stay beautiful much longer than Silver. The durability of the material is simply better when directly compared. Especially when you follow up on our maintenance tips, your 316L Surgical Steel Jewelry will last for years to come.
When you shop for new Piercing Jewelry, make use of the filters to find only Piercings made of the Material you are after.
Classic Silver is beautiful and matches practically every outfit. There are many reasons why we desire more colorful designs. Often Piercings are available in various colors. Yellow Gold and Rose Gold are not that hard to find throughout our website. Black is another color hugely in demand. If you're after something brighter, you can find essentially every color from the rainbow.
Most times, such colorful Piercing Jewelry is produced of 316L Surgical Steel and covered with a thin plating of another material that adds the color. The most typical plating techniques are gold and PVD plating. When a plating is used, this is mentioned on the product page. You can click on the attribute for detailed information about the plating used.
Bear in mind that the plated layer is thin. It may fade quickly when not cared for correctly. If you are sensitive to Nickel or metal in general, a plated Piercing is not protecting your skin. At some point, your skin will contact the 316L Surgical Steel base.
Proper maintenance for your Piercing Jewelry will significantly improve the lifetime. As we mentioned earlier, 316L Surgical Steel with brass used as a second material is very sensitive to discoloration. When brass is used, ensure the jewelry is thoroughly dried to prevent tarnishing.
Gold plated Jewelry may fade quickly if not well cared for. For gold plated Jewelry we strongly recommend not wearing the Jewel when taking a shower or swim. Other types of plated Jewelry are less delicate but still require some precaution. Rinse the Piercing first when it came in contact with saltwater. Do not expose plated Jewelry to perfume, hair spray, makeup, and chemical cleaners.
You can sterilize non-plated Piercings made of 316L Surgical Steel with alcohol, such as our alcohol pads. Use our polishing cloth to keep your piercings and earrings shine like new. Do not clean any plated Jewelry with alcohol, and don't polish them. Instead, use luke warm water combined with mild soap for cleaning.
Other Material Guides
With Material Guides like this one, we want to help you make informed decisions when purchasing one of our Piercings online. We have written a Guide for most of the materials you will find in our webshop.
If you want to learn more about the differences between the materials used for Piercing Jewelry, read a bit more by browsing through all of our Material Guides. Our customer service can also assist you if you have any questions left before deciding what material best fits your needs.
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