Are Stainless Steel Earrings Nickel Free?( Jeweler’s Answer)

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Stainless steel is one of the metals that is regarded as a skin-safe and allergy-free option for jewelry making, but not all versions of stainless steel are safe.

With this in mind, stainless steel used for the best jewelry is surgical stainless steel – it is beautiful, cost-effective, and also indestructible, features that make it a great alternative to sterling silver. But are stainless steel earrings nickel-free?


What are stainless steel earrings made of?

Stainless steel earrings, better known as surgical stainless steel earrings, refer to the high-quality metal that is used in jewelry. It’s used in biomedical implants.

Are Stainless Steel Earrings Nickel Free

The version of stainless steel used in jewelry making is a metal alloy made of iron and at least 10.5% chromium. The chromium used in making stainless steel is the reason why stainless steel is corrosion-resistant. But these are not the only metals incorporated into stainless steel. The other metals that are often present in stainless steel are molybdenum and nickel. Unfortunately, both chromium and nickel present in stainless steel often result in skin allergies. Nickel is the biggest cause of allergies, however, which is why the best earrings you might be looking for should be nickel-free.

If you are looking for skin-safe and allergy-free stainless steel earrings, you’ll have to choose between 4 types of stainless steel – SAE 420, SAE 17-4, Martensitic SAE 440, and Austenitic SAE3 316.

Are Stainless Steel Earrings Nickel Free

So, which of these is nickel-free stainless steel?

To determine what the best version of stainless steel is, you need to first determine the grade of the stainless steel. Generally, you need to be on the lookout for the versions of stainless steel jewelry with a 316L marking. This is 316L surgical stainless steel. Alternatively, you could opt for 304 stainless steel.

Surgical stainless steel (316L) isn’t 100% free of nickel, but it is very low on nickel and is, as a result, the ideal version of stainless steel used for a surgical instrument, medical equipment, and surgical-grade earrings. These are, therefore, regarded as hypoallergenic. They are also rust and tarnish-resistant.

  • grade stainless steel is the next best thing, though, thanks to the lower content of nickel in comparison to the amount of nickel in 316L. Therefore, if you are looking for jewelry ideal for your skin because you have hypersensitive skin or struggle with nickel sensitivities, then 304-grade stainless steel would be a great option for you. It’s also tarnish-free and rust-resistant.

Are Stainless Steel Earrings Nickel Free

Are stainless steel earrings nickel-free?

Unfortunately, even the stainless steel earrings that are regarded as surgical-grade stainless steel or nickel-free stainless steel earrings are not free of nickel.

All forms of stainless steel contain a small percentage of nickel in them, even the nickel-free versions.

They are, therefore, regarded as hypoallergenic, and this means that though they contain nickel, the amount of nickel isn’t enough to cause an allergic reaction.

Are Stainless Steel Earrings Nickel Free

Pros and cons of stainless steel earrings


  • Stainless steel is quite durable, and it can withstand wear and tear to a great extent, meaning you can wear the earrings every day without worrying about damage caused to the ring.
  • It’s tarnish and corrosion-resistant.
  • Resistant to scratching
  • It’s a low maintenance metal that’s quite easy to clean
  • No rhodium plating is needed. So, in as much as rhodium is this hard metal that enhances the scratch resistance of jewelry, it’s not needed when making stainless steel jewelry because stainless steel is actually stronger than rhodium.
  • It’s a comfortable, lightweight metal that doesn’t wear you down
  • The surgical-grade stainless steel is hypoallergenic and safe for your skin, especially if you have sensitive and easily irritable skin
  • It’s affordable, and the pricing is significantly lower than the price of silver, gold, or platinum
  • It looks just like the more expensive metals like platinum
  • Stainless steel is eco-friendly and 100% recyclable
  • In case of emergencies, stainless steel rings can be cut off; it’s also a poor conductor of electricity


  • Skin-safe and hypoallergenic stainless steel jewelry isn’t available in all possible selections of styles. So, there is always a risk of skin irritation.
  • The earrings would lose their shine after some years of use
  • Easily damaged when exposed to chlorine or salty water
  • Resizing this ring is rather difficult given the hardness of the metal and its rigidity too. Resizing is only possible if a specialized machine is used, and even then, it might be too expensive to resize the rings, for example


Should You buy stainless steel earrings?

Are Stainless Steel Earrings Nickel Free

If you are not worried about allergies or sensitivity reactions because you’ve never had issues with jewelry, stainless steel would be an ideal choice for you. The earrings are cheap, durable, and stylish.

But if you are worried about metal hypersensitivity reactions, having had a reaction to surgical grade earrings before, avoid these earrings and maybe save up for the best of 925 sterling silver earrings.



Stainless steel earrings are durable, affordable, and stylish, but they are not 100%-free of nickel.

Even the hypoallergenic versions contain a small amount of nickel, earning the earrings the hypoallergenic tag – that the risk of these earrings eliciting an allergic reaction is too low.

So, before you buy stainless steel earrings, know that they are not completely nickel-free.

Read more jewelry metal posts here or here! See you guys in the next post!

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