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Jewelry Tips: Steel, an iron-carbon alloy, has been known and used for millennia, but it has always had one major drawback–rust. During the 19th Century, several alloys were developed that resisted corrosion, until the near perfect mix (10-percent chromium and 0.15-percent carbon added to approximately 89.85-percent iron) was found. (The approximate iron content is because other elements can be added to increase flexibility, hardness or other characteristics.) Stainless steel does actually rust, but the rust (or oxide) is a thin layer that actually protects the metal from reacting with air or water.
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