What metals are magnetic? Is gold, stainless steel, aluminum & silver attracted to magnets?

Metals can be magnetic and non-magnetic. The magnetic ones will produce a field around them, usually described as “ferromagnetic.” These metals are not magnetic by themselves in their natural state. Still, they can be attracted to objects that produce magnetic fields.

Once magnetized, these metals become magnets themselves. It is essential to know which metals are ferromagnetic when you are working with them. Steel is handy for repelling or attracting other materials once magnetized. It is highly beneficial for you to know about which metals can be magnetized.

If you want to avoid these magnetic forces, you should work with metals that are not ferromagnetic. In this article, we will show you what metals are magnetic. If you are wondering whether gold, stainless steel, aluminum, or sterling silver is attracted to magnets, look below. We explain many metals and their properties. 

What metals are magnetic?

A metal can interact with a magnet in various ways. Frequently, it depends strictly on the internal structure of the materials you are working with. These can be classified as ferromagnetic, paramagnetic, or diamagnetic. 

A magnet will only affect ferromagnetic metals, but they also have a faint effect on paramagnetic ones. When you place them near a magnet, the diamagnetic metals express a weak repulsion force. In essence, only ferromagnetic metals have magnetic properties. 

What are magnets made of?

To have magnetic properties, only ferromagnetic metals can be used for such a purpose. They will not be aligned in their natural state, but these metals can be magnetized. 

Once this process is done, you will create three different types of magnets. These are permanent magnets, electromagnets, and temporary magnets. The permanent magnet is metal with a permanently re-aligned crystalline structure. 

The temporary magnet will create a magnetic field only under specific conditions. And the electromagnet will run an electrical current through a coiling wire wrapped around a ferromagnetic metal. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of metals and see whether they are ferromagnetic or not. This way, you can identify which interact with magnets. 

Gold

gold necklace

Just like most metals in this world, gold is also diamagnetic. It is precious and common in pieces of jewelry and various accessories. But gold has a relatively weak magnetic attraction to magnets that are in pure form. 

Stainless steel

stainless steel necklace

To be considered stainless, chrome is added to the alloy steel. It results in a specific chemical composition that makes the metal ferromagnetic. Stainless steel is magnetic and will actively interact with the force fields.

However, austenitic steels do not hold any ferromagnetic properties simply due to their molecular structure. It allows for comprehensive utilization in the medical industry as surgical steel becomes more common. 

Aluminum

aluminum folding ruler

Aluminum has a distinctive crystal structure similar to lithium and magnesium. As a result, these metals have non-magnetic properties and are also good examples of paramagnetic metals. Aluminum is known as a highly durable material that is rust-resistant.

While aluminum corrosion can still happen in different ways, it is known for its high resistance to harsh environments. It is also lightweight, making it ideal in multiple industries. 

Silver

sterling silver

Silver is another excellent example of a diamagnetic metal, similar to palladium and rhodium. Because of this property, such metals have non-magnetic functions. Silver is well-known for its strong electrical and thermal conductivity and bright reflectivity. 

When silver is heated, this metal becomes soft and malleable. Although not as resistant as aluminum, silver also has high corrosion resistance features. 

Today, it is used for the production of jewelry and coins. Solar panels also depend on this metal, which is constantly growing in popularity. 

Copper

copper table

While the copper itself does not feature any magnetic properties, it can interact with metals in various ways. You will often find copper in power plants, which use this metal to generate electricity. 

Metal detectors can detect non-magnetic metals as well, like gold and silver. For practical purposes, the interaction between copper and magnets is limited. Its application is not ideal on a large scale. 

Titanium

When compared to other ferromagnetic metals, titanium is weakly magnetic in the presence of a magnetic field. A specific effect is created with this metal. For example, a small electrical current will form in the metal when a magnet is passed over it. 

These currents have their magnetic field that can interact with the moving magnet above. As a result, the metal will move without directly interacting with the metal itself. Sensitive equipment could easily measure this effect in titanium. 

Brass

brass candlestick holders

Brass is a mix between Zinc and Copper. These two primary elements are not magnetic. When they form together, they will also create a non-magnetic compound. In essence, brass will not interact with moving magnets.

It shares similar features with aluminum, copper, and zinc. Brass was often used for musical instruments. Back then, the only way of achieving good tonal results was using instruments with high copper content. 

Iron

It is one of the most popular ferromagnetic metals. There are lots of factors that contribute to the magnetism of iron. Its crystalline structure is just as crucial as the electron spin at the atomic level. Without them, iron would lose its ferromagnetic features.

Any metal with iron in it will experience attraction to a magnet. Because steel contains iron, this material will be attracted to a magnet as well. Other metals, such as aluminum or gold, cannot be considered ferromagnetic as they lack iron. 

Lead

Even though lead is a very heavy metal, it is not magnetic. But because this material is heavy, it can be coated with gold by scammers who pretend to sell solid gold jewelry. 

Lead and gold share the same weight; only an expert can tell the difference. Although it doesn’t share magnetic properties, lead can interact with magnetic fields by moving a powerful magnet past a leaded piece. 

Nickel

nickel cabinet pulls

Nickel is also found in the earth’s core, making it popular. It shares ferromagnetic properties with steel and iron, and this material has been used to make coins for a long time.

Today, nickel is used in many industries. Phones and batteries are just two of the many examples, as this metal is an essential component of our everyday products. You can find many nickel magnets, as they are typical.

Hematite

hematite necklace

Another essential mineral in our planet’s composition is hematite, which is also magnetic. Scientists have investigated its properties for a long time. Nowadays, this material has a wide variety of uses. 

However, it lacks popularity and economic significance as iron is more commonly used. Hematite is used to produce ballast, radiation shielding, and pigments. You can also find magnets made of hematite, which are very rare.  

Tungsten

tungsten ring

This material has a low vulnerability to magnetism. An alloy of tungsten and carbon can be magnetic as its elements are more susceptible to magnetism. It is called tungsten carbide. 

In nature, tungsten can be partially magnetic or even paramagnetic simply because of unpaired electrons. The realignment of their paths can happen due to an external magnetic field, which makes it weakly attracted by magnets. 

Zinc

Zinc is not magnetic unless exposed to a powerful magnetic field. In that case, the metal will gain magnetic properties for a short time until you remove it from the field. For practical purposes, zinc is not magnetic.

You can test it yourself by melting a penny and exposing the zinc to a magnet. Pennies made after 1982 should contain zinc with a thin layer of copper. As copper is not magnetic, you can conduct this experiment by focusing on zinc. 

Tin

Tin is weakly attracted to a magnet, which makes it paramagnetic. You will often see this material used to create tinplate-steel sheet metal with a thin layer of tin coated on the surface. 

Tinplate is used to manufacture tin cans in high demand for the beverage and food industries. Cosmetic and fuel industries also require this material for their operations. An essential feature of this material is its low melting point and resistance to corrosion from water. 

Platinum

Another paramagnetic metal is platinum. Because it has such a weak magnetic element that is barely traceable, it will not react to magnets. Pure platinum is one of the most precious metals, which makes it very rare.

It is commonly used in jewelry and electronics, but platinum can also be an excellent conductor. While it lacks any ferromagnetic features, some scientists induced magnetic stats on the surface of a thin sheet of platinum. 

Mercury

At room temperature, mercury is not magnetic at all. It has a minimal negative magnetic susceptibility. When you put it in a magnetic field, it will magnetize weakly in the opposite direction. That’s why mercury can be considered a weak diamagnetic substance when exposed to room temperature. 

Some compounds containing mercury can be weak diamagnets but more potent than mercury. An alloy of mercury and iron can be created, which will be magnetizable simply because of the iron composition. 

Cast iron

Even though cast iron has a small quantity of carbon in its chemical composition, it is still magnetic. This material has a variety of uses. The manufacturing process makes the difference between pure iron and cast iron.

Molten iron is poured into a particular mold, where the iron can cool and harden. Unlike other metals, iron can melt at lower temperatures. Once it is taken out of the mold, it can be shaped into various forms for different uses. 

Bronze

Bronze is not magnetic, as it is an alloy with non-magnetic properties. Using a magnet, you can test the bronze and observe the lack of attraction. Even though it lacks ferromagnetic features, bronze is used in various sectors such as industry or furniture.

The composition of bronze is the main reason why it is non-magnetic. It is mainly made of copper, a metal that doesn’t attract magnets. 

Galvanized steel

Galvanized steel is just steel that has gone through a galvanizing process. This process will coat the steel with a very thin layer of zinc. The resulting material is a highly durable one, which is also resistant to rust and corrosion. 

Once applied to the carbon steel, this thin coat of zinc can act as a cathode. The zinc will give up electrons more readily than iron would. As a result, galvanized steel is magnetic simply because the base is made of steel.

Graphene oxide

Graphene oxide is a compound of magnetic nanoparticles. This material has unique chemical and physical features, including nano size and large surface area. Because it is paramagnetic, the magnetic capabilities are mild and reduced.

While this material is primarily non-magnetic, scientists have discovered that graphene oxide will develop rare forms of magnetism. It happens when multiple sheets are stacked and twisted. 

Pyrite

Because this mineral contains iron to a small degree, pyrite is weakly magnetic. The magnetic features can be increased when pH value and temperatures are adjusted, producing the well-known magnetized pyrite. 

In today’s world, pyrite is used for various purposes. It can create a spark when hit against other materials, making it a source of ignition for weapons. Some manufacturers use pyrite to produce lithium batteries, mineral detectors, or paper

Cobalt

It has been used for its magnetic properties for a long time. It is a ferromagnetic metal with powerful features of magnetism, just like iron. This material can be used to create a range of soft and hard magnets. 

Cobalt-based magnets have a higher saturation point and can also be used in high-temperature environments. Wind turbines, MRI machines, and hard disks are often manufactured with cobalt alloys. 

Graphite

After comprehensive study and experiments, scientists have agreed that pure graphite can never be ferromagnetic. They discovered that each carbon atom has six electrons, three of which will spin pointing down. The other three will point down.

It defines the carbon atom with a zero magnetic moment. That is why graphite is a diamagnet material that features non-magnetic properties.

Magnesium

While magnesium is not magnetic, it has various interesting properties that make it essential in multiple applications. This material can create alloys with other metals and is also effective at radiation absorption. 

In combination with copper, an alloy resistant to corrosion is obtained. When combined with aluminum, the resulting alloy is lightweight and highly durable. 

Because it does not have an unpaired electron in its outer layer, magnesium is not magnetic. The effect of magnetism will be created only when an atom has at least one unpaired electron in the outer layer, which magnesium misses. 

Pewter

While it is not as common as iron or steel, pewter is an alloy made of tin and lead. This alloy has been used to create decorative objects and containers for a long time. Unfortunately, it is one of the first metals affected by radioactivity.

This metal will turn black when exposed to radiation, and its surface will get shiny. Some alloys that contain pewter can be magnetized, but this metal does not feature magnetic capabilities in its pure form. For this reason, pewter can be categorized as a ferromagnetic material. 

FAQ

Will a magnet stick to 18k gold?

Real gold will not attract a magnet. This is one of the simplest ways you can check whether your jewelry is made out of real gold or not. Expose your item to a magnet. No attraction should happen if the piece is made of 18k real gold.

What grade of stainless steel is non-magnetic?

Certain types of stainless steel are non-magnetic. Among them, stainless steel type 304 contains 8% nickel and 18% chromium and small quantities of carbon and nitrogen. This combination makes the material non-magnetic.

Another type is stainless steel type 904L which contains increased amounts of nickel, carbon, and phosphorous. This type of stainless steel is also resistant to corrosion and can withstand high stress. 

Can a magnet pick up a wedding ring?

Magnets should not affect this item if the wedding ring is made of gold. Pure gold and white gold are non-magnetic metals that are not attracted to any kind of metal. But if your ring is made out of a gold alloy, a certain force of attraction can be noticed as some of the alloy’s components are ferromagnetic.