Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver. Stainless steel or sterling silver, which one to choose?
This can be a little tricky because both of the metals look similar in appearance with a high shine and attractive finish. Stainless steel is considered to have more strength and durability and is ideal for everyday use as it does not tarnish.
Yet some people consider silver to be precious and associate sentimental value with it more than stainless steel. Both stainless steel and sterling silver are alloy metals and each of them has its own unique qualities.
Let us deep dive and find out what are the similarities and differences between stainless steel and sterling silver jewelry in the rest of this article.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is an iron and chromium alloy that needs to contain at least 10.5% of chromium. It contains less than 1.2% carbon and other alloying elements.
The rest of the composition can include a mixture of various other metals like nickel, carbon, manganese, silicon, titanium, copper, etc, depending on the intended use.
Stainless steel has a very aesthetically appealing finish, it is resistant to corrosion and requires very low maintenance. Additionally, it is considered to be an environment-friendly metal as it can be easily recycled.
Stainless steel has multiple uses and is often used in kitchen accessories, cookware, jewelry, the medical field for surgical tools, architecture and construction, transportation, and a lot more.
Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Jewelry
Now we know that stainless steel has a prominent role to play and is found in everyday objects. But is it okay to wear stainless steel jewelry?
Let us do a pros and cons list to find out all about it.
Pros of Stainless Steel Jewelry:
1. Looks Great: It has a nice shiny finish which makes it look like any other precious metal. Stainless steel pieces of jewelry are available in beautiful designs and surface finishes like matt or shiny bright which can be embossed or tinted.
2. Durable: Stainless steel is incredibly durable, you don’t have to worry about damaging or taking extreme care of your jewelry. It will not get dented or scratched easily and will continue looking the same year after year.
3. Corrosion-free: Stainless steel does not tarnish as chromium oxide acts as a protective layer on its surface, keeping the metal corrosion-free, tarnish-free, and scratch-free.
4. Easy Maintenance: It is a versatile metal that needs low maintenance making it ideal for daily use. You don’t have to remove your stainless steel rings or chains before stepping into the shower. You can wear them regularly and go about doing your everyday tasks.
5. Easy on the Wallet: Stainless steel is very cost-effective and has a much lower price point than silver or gold, making it easily affordable.
Cons of Stainless Steel Jewelry:
1. Tough to Resize: Stainless steel is very rigid so it is not easy to reshape or repair or manipulate this metal due to its strength. So resizing a ring or fixing some damage will not be possible.
2. Hypoallergenic: In some cases, stainless steel can cause allergic reactions. Stainless steel has nickel blended in the alloy and nickel can trigger allergic reactions in some people with highly sensitive skin. However, there are hypoallergenic options available.
3. Investment Value: Stainless steel is easily affordable but it does not appreciate in value like silver or gold.
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver that contains 92.5% silver and the rest 7.5% is made of copper, nickel, or zinc to give it strength, shape, and durability.
Sterling silver is often considered to have a beautiful ornamental value and is commonly used in everyday life such as jewelry, watches, frames, homewares, ceremonies, fine tableware, serving dishes, and other household items. This timeless metal looks classy and does not rust or perish.
Sterling silver is widely available and does not have an exorbitant price like gold, diamonds, and other metals.
Pros and Cons of Sterling Silver Jewelry
Pros of Sterling Silver:
1. Looks Striking: Sterling silver has an attractive bright polished finish that makes it look like an expensive piece of jewelry.
2. Malleable: Silver can be easily molded and engraved, allowing you to create unique designs for your pieces of jewelry. You can get them custom made and add personalized styles to match your needs.
3. Easy to Fix: It is easy to maintain sterling silver jewelry and repair any damages. If you notice the shine diminishing, then you can get it cleaned and restore its original look.
4. Investment: Sterling silver has a good investment value as it is a precious metal.
Cons of Sterling Silver:
1. Prone to Damage: Since sterling silver is a soft metal it can easily get damaged, dented, or scratched, unlike stainless steel.
2. Tarnish: Sterling silver oxides and tarnishes because of the presence of copper or zinc. So when exposed to oxygen, humidity, or water it can lose its luster.
3. Expensive: It is considered to be a precious metal so sterling silver is more expensive than stainless steel.
Differences Between Stainless Steel and Sterling Silver Jewelry
1. Price: Sterling silver is priced significantly higher than stainless steel.
2. Color: Both boast a shiny silvery finish and look very similar in color. However stainless steel has more of a shiny mirror finish whereas sterling silver has more of a matte to a glossy look.
3. Allergy: Stainless steel and sterling silver are hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin. Usually, the elements that most people are allergic to are nickel and copper which may be a cause of skin irritations or allergies.
However, you can avoid these elements and use alternative metals. By doing this you’ll be able to wear stainless steel or silver jewelry without any skin problems.
4. Quality: Stainless steel is strong and more durable than sterling silver. Silver is soft and malleable in nature whereas stainless steel is very rigid and difficult to reshape.
5. Tarnish: Stainless steel does not show any signs of getting tarnished or losing its shine over a period of time but sterling silver when exposed to natural elements will tend to oxidize and tarnish.
Is Sterling Silver or Stainless Steel Better for Jewelry?
Stainless steel does not require as much attention and care as sterling silver because it does tarnish, scratch, or lose shape. It requires very little care and is easy to maintain.
So when it comes to everyday use, stainless steel is better as it offers a longer lifespan. However, it’s a matter of personal preference both of them have very subtle visual differences.
Sterling silver is a good investment and is more of a precious metal than stainless steel.
Can You Wear Stainless Steel and Sterling Silver Together?
Yes, layering different pieces of jewelry on top of each other or wearing different rings and trying out new combinations can create a very stylish look.
You can mix stainless steel necklaces with sterling silver chains as they both look similar in color. Or you can even wear sterling silver earrings with a stainless necklace. Mixing a few rings is also a great idea.
Is Sterling Silver the Same as Surgical Steel?
Not really, surgical steel is a type of stainless steel that is designed for biomedical applications. Surgical stainless steel contains a group of metal alloys that are hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin.
Stainless steel and sterling silver are both attractive and beautiful pieces of jewelry. It all comes down to personal preference as both of them have very subtle visual differences.
If we have to choose then stainless steel is better than sterling silver because it is more durable, does not tarnish, does not corrode, and is more affordable. However many people prefer sterling silver because it is considered to be a precious metal and there is a lot of sentimental value attached to silver.
So, selecting one jewel over the other is all based on your personal choice and preference. Better yet, you can combine both of them and flaunt your style of dressing.