The debate on sterling silver vs stainless steel jewelry has been going on for as long as these metals have existed. To the average person, there is no difference in jewelry made from either of these metals since they both have a characteristic silver appearance. However, a person with true interest knows that stainless steel and sterling silver produce distinctly different jewelry.
So, what’s better, sterling silver or stainless steel jewelry? A lot of people ask this question so they can make the best possible purchase to add to their collection. However, there is no straight answer. Each of these materials produces high-quality jewelry that is a joy to look at, touch, and wear.
In this article, we will answer all the questions you might have about each of these materials, including what is more expensive, sterling silver or stainless steel. Follow along as we examine closely the truth around sterling silver vs stainless steel jewelry.
Sterling Silver Jewelry
If you have ever owned a piece of jewelry made from sterling silver, you might have noticed the digits .925 engraved somewhere on it. This is because sterling silver is a metallic alloy.
In chemistry, a metal alloy is a substance made up of two or more metals. Metal alloys are created because one of the metals is not strong or stable enough to stand on its own. This is the case with silver.
100% pure silver is a very beautiful metal but it is very soft. When used to make jewelry, for example rings, it can easily get bent out of shape. Nobody would want to spend money on a piece of jewelry that loses its appeal with only a few wears. Hence the creation of sterling silver.
Sterling silver is created by combining 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper alloy. Sometimes pure silver can be mixed with argentium, zinc, and platinum to create stronger alloys. Sterling silver is a strong compound that is perfect for making long-lasting jewelry pieces.
Jewelry made from sterling silver is effortlessly classy and does not demand too much attention. Such pieces are great for day-to-day wear and can easily be worn both formally and informally. The high cost of sterling silver answers the question to what is more expensive, sterling silver or stainless steel. However, their many uses make it worth every penny.
- Malleable: sterling silver still retains the soft properties of pure silver even when made into an alloy. Jewelry made from sterling silver can be made into all sorts of shapes, including very delicate ones. You can get a wide variety of jewelry from this material, including high-fashion pieces.
- Affordable: is sterling silver cheaper than stainless steel? No. However, it is much cheaper compared to jewelry made from precious metals like pure silver and gold. You can purchase high-quality sterling silver jewelry at a more affordable price.
- Low-maintenance: jewelry made from sterling silver does not scratch easily nor is it prone to bending. You will not have to be hyper-vigilant of how you act to protect your jewelry from getting damaged. Sterling silver pieces allow you to have fun, which is more than can be said for other materials.
- Durable: you can wear a ring or bracelet made from sterling silver everyday without it showing signs of aging. If something happens to a sterling silver piece, it can be easily repaired. This means you can even pass down your favorite pieces as precious heirlooms.
- Tarnishes: if you have ever continuously worn a sterling silver piece, then you know the metal is prone to tarnishing. Jewelry made from this material can turn black due to its interaction with air and substances like soap. While this process is reversible, it can take off a bit of the fun of wearing sterling silver.
- Expensive: sterling silver pieces do not come cheap. This is because silver is a precious metal, and the process of creating this alloy is not cheap. More often than not, pieces advertised as sterling silver that are cheap are knock-offs.
Stainless Steel Jewelry
Just like sterling silver, stainless steel is also an alloy. Unlike sterling silver, however, stainless steel can result from around 150 combinations of metallic compounds. The resulting alloy is very strong and durable.
In jewelry making, stainless steel is commonly made from combining a percentage of chromium and steel. Type 304 stainless steel comes from this mixture. Other metals like nickel and titanium can also be used depending on what grade of stainless steel is required. Type 316L is made from steel and up to 3% of molybdenum.
Is stainless steel jewelry good quality? Yes. The different metal combinations make for a substance that is scratch resistant, which is the main appeal of stainless steel jewelry. Stainless steel is also very resistant to corrosive substances, including oxygen. This makes jewelry made from it hard to tarnish.
Various types of jewelry can be made from stainless steel. This is because the material can be artfully bent without ruining its structure. It is also resistant to the bangs and snags common with wearing jewelry. This means it is unlikely that you will chip your stainless steel jewelry even with daily wearing. Additionally, stainless steel is often hypoallergenic. This makes it a great option for gifting people with sensitive skin, including children.
- Variety: despite being a tough material, stainless steel can be bent into multiple shapes. This offers you a great variety of pieces to pick from, suitable for every occasion.
- High Luster: if you want jewelry pieces that catch the light, then you should definitely choose those made from stainless steel. This material shines beautifully without being tacky. It can create very glamorous pieces suitable to wear to exclusive events.
- Affordable: stainless steel is a material that gives you high-quality pieces without breaking your bank. It is becoming a great alternative for wedding bands and other pieces that people wear everyday.
- Durable: stainless steel is highly durable and can take the beatings of daily wearing without showing it. This makes it a favorite for rings, bracelets, and necklaces since they are worn most often.
- Allergic: stainless steel can be made from through the combination of materials like nickel. A lot of people are allergic to nickel, which makes stainless steel pieces dangerous to wear.
- Hard to Repair: the toughness of stainless steel is also its downfall. Once a piece made from stainless steel gets damaged, it is not easy to repair. This can be disappointing if your favorite piece gets damaged.
Silver vs Sterling Silver: What’s Better?
Silver is a precious metal, up there with gold when it comes to value. It has been used for millennia as a store of value, often to make coins that can be exchanged for quite a bit of money.
With that being said, pure silver does not make long-lasting jewelry. Pieces made from pure silver have to be worn infrequently, maybe in very special occasions. Since silver is soft, it can be bent into very intricate designs. However, the fact that it can easily bend out of shape means it is risky to wear such pieces.
When it comes to the topic of silver vs sterling silver, then the latter takes the cake. If you want intricacy without delicacy, then sterling silver pieces should be your go-to jewelry. You can wear sterling silver jewelry without having to take extra care to not damage them. The fact that they are durable make them a better investment for your collection. The only real topic of debate is that of sterling silver vs stainless steel jewelry.
The topic of sterling silver vs stainless steel will likely be debated forever. What’s better, sterling silver or stainless steel? Opinions and tastes vary, but regardless of what you pick, you are sure to get a lot of wear from these materials. Head on over to our website to see the myriad of stainless steel and sterling silver pieces we carry.
Hey Fashion Enthusiasts! My wife Chantal and I, have been so fortunate to be able to share our latest inspiration and trends in the jewelry and accessory industry, and more so, to get this amazing feedback from our ever growing community. Where my wife focusses more on all things rings, weddings and female jewelry, I love to scoop out the newest accessories for men. I roam around the world to find the latest watches, bags, sunglasses, scarfs, wallets, you name it and I’ll deliver! I always commit to doing a lot of research to share my reviews and personalized advice on this blog or on our store. If you do not know what to wear, send me an email and I will help you out!