About Stainless Steel and Surgical Stainless Steel Jewelry Components:
Stainless Steel is a generic name for any steel alloy with a minimum of 11.5 wt% chromium. The chromium creates a very thin chromium-oxide layer on the surface of the metal, which prevents it from rusting.
The advantage of stainless steels over plated steels is that, if scratched or damaged, the stainless steel 'self-repairs' as a new chromium-oxide layer is formed. Other metals are added to the alloy to give the steel other properties, such as strength and malleability.
SURGICAL STAINLESS STEEL contains nickel, usually 8% in jewelry. Low-nickel forms of stainless steel do not meet the needs of the medical industry, as they lack the corrosion resistance that nickel gives to steel.
Looking for allergy-friendly metals? See our 2013 Surgical Steel and Hypoallergenic Metals blog article for a full discussion of this topic, plus links to great earring material options for people with metal allergies.