Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver

What’s the Difference?

When it comes to choosing jewelry accessories, sterling silver and stainless steel are some of the most popular choices, especially since they are similar in appearance. 

However, the similarities end there because stainless steel and sterling silver are vastly different from one another.

Which one do you usually choose, sterling silver or stainless steel?

With that said, listed below are their definitions, differences, and the various pros and cons of each type of metal. 

Using the information in this article, you can choose which one works best for your needs and which option will best represent your unique style.

Stainless Steel 

Stainless steel is a popular choice for jewelry, cutlery, and even surgical equipment. This is due to its ability to offer a better reflection of light after being polished. This gives stainless steel a higher level of sheen that can appeal to those who like to add a little bling to their outfits or their dining table. 

Stainless steel is composed of a variety of metal alloys that have different chemical compositions. There are approximately 150 variations of this metal with the most common being the combination of chromium and steel. 

This particular combination offers the durability, strength, and functionality of steel; while also offering the low maintenance and corrosion resistance of chromium. Other metals that can be used for stainless steel are nickel and titanium.  

The versatility of stainless steel has contributed to its popularity over the years. Stainless steel can be used to mimic the appearance of chrome or pewter. It’s also stronger, more durable, and offers incredible scratch resistance. 

The impressive durability and scratch resistant qualities of stainless steel makes it the perfect option for everyday use.

Sterling Silver 

Silver is not just a metal. It’s also considered an element, with the chemical symbol of Ag. 

While silver isn’t quite as rare as its cousins gold and platinum, silver is still considered a precious metal.

Sterling silver, in particular, is composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper alloy. They often alloy other metals – like copper, zinc, and platinum – with pure silver as the latter is too soft to use for anything durable or functional.  

While silver is beautiful, materials made with pure silver have a higher chance of losing their original shape. Silver is a very delicate metal and has a tendency to bend and snag easily. 

As a result, sterling silver was created; offering more durability and functionality than pure silver. 

Jewelry, such as sterling silver earrings or sterling silver necklaces, often have .925 stamped on them to indicate their composition as sterling silver. It is often a popular choice for jewelry due to its receptive properties and the soft lustre it offers.  

Aside from jewelry, however, it’s also used for items like cutlery and even musical instruments wherein some manufacturers choose sterling silver over brass for instruments like the saxophone. 


Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver 

Stainless steel and sterling silver are alloy metals. This means that they’re a combination of several other metals. they still have differences that can affect your decision when deciding which one is better for your needs. 

With that said, in terms of durability and longer lifespan, stainless steel has more to offer as its combination of several different metals enables it to withstand the constant wear and tear of everyday use. 

Moreover, the addition of different metals enables stainless steel to be corrosion and scratch-resistant. The durability of stainless steel allows you to wear it daily with no worries about its appearance. 

While stainless steel is known for its durability, sterling silver is the more elegant and malleable option for intricate designs like custom jewelry.

Additionally, sterling silver is more lightweight compared to stainless steel. Since it’s a precious metal, sterling silver holds more value compared to stainless steel.  

It’s worth noting that sterling silver tarnishes much easier than stainless steel and is more prone to damage and scratches.

To summarize, stainless steel offers enhanced durability and a longer lifespan than sterling silver due to its inherent corrosion and scratch-resistance. This makes it better for everyday use, especially for jewelry. 

However, if you want something that’s more lightweight and exudes elegance, then sterling silver is the way to go. 

Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver: Pros and Cons

Pros of Stainless Steel 

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Harder construction
  • Increased durability
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Gives off a nicer shine compared to silver
  • Versatile
  • More affordable compared to silver
  • Ideal for daily use
  • Easy and low-maintenance cleaning 

Cons of Stainless Steel 

  • Cannot easily be repaired when damaged
  • Can trigger allergic reactions in some people 

Pros of Sterling Silver 

  • It’s a precious metal yet more affordable than gold or platinum. 
  • Offers more malleability and versatility 
  • Easy to create intricate designs with it 
  • Can easily be cleaned and restored to its former glory 
  • Can easily be repaired in case of damages 
  • Offers a nice lustre for jewelry which can add a touch of elegance to your appearance 

Cons of Sterling Silver 

  • More prone to damages like scratches due to its inherent softness 
  • More prone to tarnishing compared to stainless steel 
  • Tends to cost more than stainless steel

Final Thoughts 

Depending on your needs, either stainless steel or sterling silver can work for you. 

Despite their highly similar appearance, they have vast differences – from their metal composition to their properties. 

Stainless steel offers increased durability and is ideal for everyday use as it can stand the wear and tear of consistent use. 

On the other hand, sterling silver offers more value than stainless steel and exudes a higher level of elegance, especially for jewelry. 

Nevertheless, both are great metals that are versatile enough to be used for various items – from jewelry to musical instruments.