Nickel is a silvery metal, and rarely used in pure form. It was discovered as a distinct element in 1751. However, it was found as early as 235 BC in Chinese utensils and tools. The US coin, the nickel, is only 25 percent nickel. Today nickel is commonly used as a component in stainless steel, and to coat other metals. It helps increase resistance to corrosion. All of our nickel hardware is plated over steel, zinc or brass.