Sterling Silver Vs. Stainless Steel Jewelry
When choosing jewelry, the big question is always “Gold or Silver?” For true fans of Silver jewelry, this decision is probably the easiest to make. However, it gets complex after this big jump because you now have to choose between sterling Silver and stainless steel.
There are many similarities between these two metals. For one, they both look the same, giving off a luster silvery look that is difficult to differentiate, even for the most trained eyes.
But these two metals couldn’t be any more different. They do not have the same composition, so they differ in versatility, durability, weight, affordability, and maintenance.
However, they are still two of the most popular options for jewelry pieces.
Because we do not want you to lump them together or even get the shorter end of the straw, we are placing the two metals side by side and comparing them. We will look at the pros and cons of each metal and see which is better for different situations. But first, let’s get more details about each metal and what makes them great for jewelry.
Silver is a precious metal and a chemical element. It isn’t quite as rare as platinum and gold, but it is nonetheless precious.
Sterling Silver is a form of silver composed of 92.5% pure Silver and 7.5% alloy. In most cases, the metal of choice is a copper alloy, but other metals like Zinc and Platinum can be used too.
An alloy is necessary because pure silver is too soft and therefore decreases the durability and functionality of anything it is made with. Imagine buying a jewelry piece and realizing it has lost its shape before you get home. We would be livid too.
Sterling silver was created to counter this delicateness while maintaining the beauty of pure silver. It is as beautiful as anything made with pure silver, but it is also stronger and more functional. It has become a popular choice for jewelry. Its popularity is further strengthened by its ability to retain its shine over time. It is also slow to tarnish.
Sterling silver is also used for other things like musical instruments and cutlery. Jewelry pieces made with sterling silver are marked .925 as an indication of their composition. The number indicates the amount of silver in the alloy. You could also see pieces marked with Sterling or S/S. All these are confirmatory marks, and they are placed on each piece after it has undergone an authentication process.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting Sterling Silver Jewelry?
- Silver Jewelry Isn’t Just Jewelry
It is an investment. The value of silver has increased steadily over time, and anyone with half a brain would tell you that precious metals are great investment vehicles.
So with each piece of silver jewelry you buy, you are also making an investment. You might ask, “why not go for pure silver instead?” However, pure silver can be damaged easily, which is why sterling silver is the better option. It offers the value of silver within it but with higher durability and functionality.
- Sterling Silver Makes Beautiful Jewelry Pieces
This much should be obvious. Jewelry pieces made from sterling silver have a soft luster and a bright white shine that gives a stunning effect. This beauty is further enhanced when the jewelry is newly polished. It is the main reason sterling silver jewelry pieces are heavily sought after.
- Malleable Yet Durable
Remember how we said the silver is soft? When you add the alloy, it becomes very malleable. This malleability means sterling silver can be crafted into intricate designs. If you can dream of the design, it can be crafted with sterling metal.
The malleability also makes them easy to customize. You can purchase a generic jewelry piece and make it truly yours with little effort and a small amount of money. That is why sterling silver rings are great for promise and engagement rings. This malleability also means that it is easier to repair.
Unlike most people think, malleability doesn’t take away from the durability of this material. Sterling silver will stand the test of time because of the extra strength from the added metals.
- It Doesn’t Lose Its Shine
A problem with most jewelry pieces is that they lose their shine easily. Fortunately, as long as you store it properly and polish it regularly, your sterling silver jewelry pieces should stand the test of time.
You also get the option to coat it with anti-tarnish agents. However, coating your sterling silver might make it more rigid, sacrificing some of the malleability sterling silver is known for.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Sterling Silver Jewelry Pieces?
- Some People Are Allergic
Sterling Silver is not hypoallergenic, which means some people might suffer an allergic reaction from wearing jewelry pieces made from them. These people usually present with rashes and skin irritation.
- It Is A Bit On The Costly Side
Silver is a precious metal, and sterling silver is more silver than alloy, which means it is expensive. Not everyone can afford to get it, and most people who do get it as a treat or a means of spoiling themselves.
- It Is Delicate And Prone To Damage
Stainless steel consists of different metal alloys, each with specific compositions. There isn’t a single type of stainless steel; rather, there are up to 150 different types. However, the most common is made by combining chromium and steel.
The composition of the different stainless steel variations is meant to increase the advantages. For example, the chromium and steel variation offers durability, corrosion resistance, functionality, and strength with minimal maintenance.
Why is stainless steel so great for jewelry? When you polish stainless steel, it reflects light so well, giving it a high level of sheen. Now, if you are someone who likes to add spice to your outfit, this is a good way to do it.
Stainless steel offers versatility and has been used to mimic the look of different metals. It is durable, strong, and scratch-resistant, making it the perfect option for the jewelry you will use every day.
Stainless steel is also incapable of corrosion which is why it was referred to as rustless steel in the past. The high resistance to corrosion makes it a great choice for more than just jewelry. It is used in making cutlery and cookware, car parts, surgical instruments, and many other things. It can also be coated with precious metal to give that luxurious feel.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting Stainless Steel Jewelry?
Stainless steel is one of the most durable metals for making jewelry. They do not rust or discolor. You do not have to worry about sweating too much or taking your jewelry off anytime you want to go for a swim.
Storing and maintaining stainless steel jewelry pieces is easy because they do not scratch easily. Polish them regularly, and they will maintain their shine over time. Besides, stainless steel jewelry is also water resitant.
Stainless steel is the perfect solution to add bling to your outfit without triggering allergies. It is hypoallergenic, so it is very unlikely that you will have allergic reactions to jewelry pieces made from it.
Stainless steel is not expensive. It is a great way to get jewelry pieces that last a long time at an affordable rate.
- Beautiful Jewelry
Jewelry pieces made with stainless steel have a beautiful mirror finish, and because of the great way they reflect the light, they look amazing closeup and from afar.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Sterling Silver Jewelry Pieces?
Stainless steel is rigid, and while this might add to the durability, it also makes repairs difficult. All stainless steel jewelry repairs or modifications must be done by a professional, which can get costly.
- Not An Investment
Stainless steel does not appreciate, so you can’t consider it an investment. They make great jewelry pieces and are great for looks, but you can’t sell them for a profit in the future.
Sterling Silver Vs. Stainless Steel: How Do They Compare?
The most important detail to note here is that the better jewelry option depends on you and your needs.
Stainless steel and sterling silver are both beautiful metals. They even look the same to the naked eye, although you will see a slight difference on closer inspection. Sterling Silver is considered more elegant than stainless steel, and the jewelry pieces usually have unique finishes.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is durable and stronger than sterling silver. So stainless steel might be the best option if you want something strong that requires little maintenance and won’t tarnish over time.
It does not mean that sterling silver is not durable. It is strong enough to use as jewelry, and because it is softer than stainless steel, it is easier to modify and resize.
Stainless steel is also a better option for people prone to allergies. It is also cheaper than sterling silver, but the latter is a great investment vehicle and is inherently more valuable than steel.
Our verdict? Stainless steel is great for pieces that you will wear every day. Its extra shine will add a spark to your outfit. Sterling silver is great for statement pieces you add to a collection and only wear on special occasions.
Back to Blog