Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver Jewelry: Which is Better?

Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver Jewelry

Sterling silver and stainless steel are both metals that are commonly used to make jewelry, and they also have a close resemblance in appearance. But beyond the similarities, there remains a curiosity to know.

Stainless steel and sterling silver, which is better? Considering a lot of factors, such as cost, durability, appearance, value, and the likes, we think stainless steel jewelry is better.

There are of course a lot to both jewelry materials, and everyone will have their preferences.

Difference Between Stainless Steel and Sterling Silver Jewelry

Before you know which jewelry is better, you need to know what is the difference between these two jewelries. Here we explain to you in the detail:-

Stainless Steel Jewelry

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, nickel, and other materials, depending on the grade of the stainless steel. It is one of the most durable alloys, and when fashioned for jewelry, it produces jewelry pieces with a classy, shiny finish.

The grade of stainless steel that is usually used to make jewelry is 316L, and this grade of stainless steel is usually hypoallergenic. That means it doesn’t react with bodily fluids to cause irritation to the skin of wearer’s.

This is why it is important that you buy only the best grade of stainless steel jewelry available. Purchasing a cheaper grade of stainless steel jewelry will mean you run the very real risk of having the metal react with your skin, causing problems.

  • Stainless steel jewelry is generally quite affordable.
  • It is resistant to dents and scratches.
  • It is tarnish-resistant and requires a little amount of care.
  • Stainless steel jewelry is corrosion resistant.
  • Stainless steel jewelry, especially those made with high-grade stainless steel are hypoallergenic.
  • Stainless steel is a very hard metal, and this makes resizing rings quite difficult.
  • Anyone with an extreme allergy to nickel will have some reaction to wearing even the highest grade of stainless steel jewelry.

Sterling Silver Jewelry

Sterling silver is a material formed from alloying silver to other metals like nickel, copper, etc.

This is done because silver on its own is too soft to be fashioned into jewelry of any kind. It simply would not hold, so it has to be alloyed with stronger metals, and this is what forms sterling silver.

Sterling silver has a glossy finish, and the material is prone to tarnishing because of this. Sterling silver is also quite expensive material, and this cost translates to the jewelry pieces made with sterling silver.

Sterling silver jewelry always has a 925 or 92.5 stamp on the inside of the jewelry pieces for you to know that they are genuine sterling silver jewelry.

Sterling silver, for all its luster, is not the only silver-based jewelry material available. There is also Argentium silver, which is harder and more durable than sterling silver. The reason for this is that Argentium silver contains germanium, making it harder than sterling silver.

  • Sterling silver jewelry is more expensive than stainless steel jewelry because sterling silver is much more valuable.
  • Sterling silver jewelry can be easily repaired if it gets dented or damaged.
  • Precious stones can be added to sterling silver jewelry because of its malleability.
  • Sterling silver has a very glossy and classy finish.
  • Sterling silver jewelry is prone to scratches and dents, due to being a softer metal than stainless steel
  • Sterling silver jewelry can be very costly.
  • Sterling silver jewelry is prone to tarnishing, especially if you do not take care of it.
  • It requires quite a constant level of care so the jewelry pieces don’t tarnish.
  • Sterling silver can react with bodily fluids and cause discoloration, due to the high amounts of nickel it contains.

Is Stainless Steel Jewelry Cheaper Than Sterling Silver Jewelry?

Yes, stainless steel jewelry is cheaper than sterling silver jewelry.

Yes, stainless steel has different qualities, but even for the highest quality grades used to make jewelry, stainless steel jewelry is significantly cheaper than sterling silver jewelry.

The reason is simple; stainless steel costs about 3 dollars per pound, while sterling silver costs between 95 to 100 dollars a pound. Sterling silver is worth roughly a hundred times more, so that difference is why stainless steel jewelry is cheaper than sterling silver jewelry.

Also, because of the difference in quality between both materials, with sterling silver worth more, it also has a higher resale value than stainless steel.

What Lasts Longer- Stainless Steel Jewelry or Sterling Silver Jewelry?

For durability, stainless steel jewelry lasts longer than sterling silver jewelry. The reasons for this are;

  • Stainless steel jewelry is more resistant to water and harsh conditions.
  • Sterling silver jewelry is prone to corrosion, an area in which stainless steel jewelry is a lot stronger.
  • Sterling silver jewelry is more prone to scratching than stainless steel jewelry.
  • As a result of being a softer material than stainless steel, sterling silver is more prone to being dented.
  • On the whole, stainless steel is considered scratch-resistant, something you can’t say for sterling silver.

Which Looks Better- Stainless Steel Jewelry or Sterling Silver Jewelry?

Aesthetically, both of these jewelry materials look similar. Both have a shiny appearance that helps you sparkle and dazzle as you wear them. But there is a difference still.

The shine of sterling silver is brighter and more lustrous than that of sterling silver, especially under light. Stainless steel has a duller shine, still glamorous but not quite at the level of sterling silver.

So, sterling silver jewelry looks better than stainless steel jewelry.

Which is Better for a Wedding Ring, Stainless Steel Ring, or Sterling Silver Ring?

This solely depends on your choice, as we can’t say there is a right or wrong answer to this. Each metal has its own pros and cons, its own peculiar characteristics, and also its own difference in appearance.

Cost is also something you have to consider, though, for a wedding ring, you might not want to let cost be a hindrance to having your dream ring!

Can I shower with Stainless Steel Jewelry?

Generally, yes. Stainless steel jewelry is safe to use in the shower or even in swimming. There are three caveats to this, however.

The first is that you take care that your stainless steel jewelry doesn’t fall down the drain while you’re having a shower. The other is that you shouldn’t take stainless steel jewelry swimming in chlorinated water.

This is because chlorine reacts badly with stainless steel and can cause it to corrode, leaving you with a piece of unsightly looking jewelry and also the risk of having green/discolored fingers.

The last, but probably the most significant caveat here, is that you check the quality of your stainless steel jewelry before you go swimming.

High-grade stainless steel jewelry will have high levels of chromium plating. This is what helps your jewelry maintain its shine and crucially, also prevent water from reacting with the metal.

With a piece of low-grade stainless steel jewelry, you run the very real risk of having your jewelry corroded with embarrassing ease. This is especially if you get them wet repeatedly. That, and you also run the risk of green fingers.

Final Note

Which is a better choice between these two metals will always be your decision to make. It would depend upon which you can afford and what you are going to use the jewelry pieces for.

We have tried to help you make a more informed opinion on which is the better of the two. Why don’t you let us know which is your choice in the comments?


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