When purchasing jewelry or cutlery, two commonly used materials that may be seen are stainless steel and sterling silver. Though similar in appearance when they are polished, they are quite different, and this article will clarify their differences as follows.
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel and chromium. It combines the strength, durability, and functionality of steel with the luster, low-maintenance upkeep, and resistance to corrosion of chromium. Applications of stainless steel include cookware, surgical equipment, architecture, and jewelry, among many others.
Sterling silver is an alloy consisting of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal, usually copper. Pure silver is usually too soft to make anything functional or durable, and therefore alloying the silver with another metal allows it to have the strength of another metal, with the flexibility and lustrous appearance of silver. Sterling silver is used to make jewelry, cutlery, and musical instruments (some manufacturers of brass wind instruments such as saxophones choose to make the instruments out of sterling silver rather than brass).
No need to guess, you know Stainless steel is much cheaper than sterling silver, so if you look into a silver product, let’s say a pendant, and the price seems too good to be true, than it is possible that is not silver, You could buy a steel pendant at about 10 dollar, but you will never see a sterling silver pendant for just 10 dollar. With sterling silver valued at over US$ 10 per troy oz while 304 SS may be US$1.00 per pound, a factor of ~150X. Unless it is relatively small, just like another things, the bigger, heavier, the more you pay. Make sense right?
Steel basically sort of iron, and silver is one of the semi-precious metal (Some Eastern country does not even see that as semi-precious). If you have two rings on your hand, same design same size, you will instantly feel that, silver is way lighter than steel. So if you got a nice silver ring which looks awesome, and it’s heavy but not too expensive, think again it could be steel. In the world of silver trading, price is always associated with weight. You will never find someone sell a chunky silver piece in a cheap price, on the other hand steel is not something really worth a lot of money, the cost of steel jewelry is mainly on the design, workmanship, instead of the material.
Flexibility or Hardness
Pure silver is soft very soft, not good on jewelry making, that’s why jewelers develop something call 925 Sterling silver that made luxury and jewelry industry much easier, for details please read another article about 925 sterling silver. So what we need to know here is nor just light weight but also soft even it becomes 925 sterling silver it’s still soft comparatively. As for Steel, it is probably one of the very useful cheap metal ever. Hardness is times over Silver, it is an alloy of iron, but won’t easily get rusty. There is no doubt about it’s strength! As on jewelry, steel jewelry can last very long due to the material. But what make people don’t like it was because it’s too heavy as for daily wearing. Imagine you wear and steel made necklace and earrings…that doesn’t seem like enjoyable, no matter how nice these jewelries are.
They both have a kind of shiny silver like color, but silver is distinctively lighter and brighter color when it’s well polished, which has an unique charm that steel can not give us, but the defect is silver does get tarnish over the time, however that somehow bring us another sort of charming, tons of people love that kind of tarnish, on the other hand we have steel, which would never change color or tarnish, it is as bright as it was, never change. Well then, sterling silver has an unique grace and beauty that steel won’t never catch up. That’s what we need to know.
We believe both material silver and steel can last ever long, but if you really use them in a rough working environment, or somewhere with lots of toxic chemical, consider use steel instead of silver. Because silver does react when contact with some unnatural elements.
Nevertheless tarnished silver can be clean again, but if you say long last, Steel will definitely win.
As for which metal is better to fashion jewelry, I recommend sterling silver. As we already known steel is tough, and silver is soft. You can easily carve words directly on the surface of silver, but you are unlikely doing anything on steel without proper tools. Most of the steel jewelries are factory made, mold copies, because it’s almost impossible to do by handcrafting, that’s the reason why steel jewelry is cheap. AS for Silver, it’s an art form material that allow artisans to deal with, Silver jewelry can be done with amazing crafted details, which is far better than steel. And this is also the value of silver jewelries, the spirit of artisans are all in there! But if your job is not friendly to sterling silver, stainless steel is a better choice.