I recently overheard a heated discussion (that bordered on an argument) about the choice of precious metal for a man-engagement ring. This person and potential his better half spent a large part of their afternoon bickering about it and yet, couldn’t come to an agreement on it.
The bone of contention? Stainless steel vs. Sterling Silver!
That’s a debate as old as any when it comes to jewelry.
Both these metals can look almost identical, seem to have the same luster and if crafted by an expert jeweler, you cannot tell the two apart.
Yet, both of these are as different as chalk and cheese.
Apart from the price tag, what makes one a better choice over the other and if one is indeed better than the other, which one is it?
I figured that with the wedding season popping its head over the horizon, this was the perfect time to blog about it. So here goes.
Diff in physical characteristics
Sterling silver is a blend of pure silver along with other metal alloys that is used for making jewelry as well as in other industrial applications. Pure sterling silver contains at least 92.5% of silver and 7.5 % of other metals (typically copper) and will have 925 stamped on it. If the jewelry is advertised as sterling silver and it does not have the 926 stamp, then it is most likely fake with even lesser silver content and will deteriorate a lot sooner than you’d expect it to.
Silver in its pure form, it is too soft to be used in jewelry. So much so, that the jeweler can even bend it with their fingers. Picture a pure silver ring on your hands or a pendant on your neck in a real life scenario. There’s every possibility of it getting snagged, bent and even broken. That’s why sterling silver was created, which looks exactly like silver but is a much better choice for use in jewelry.
One of the reasons why people prefer silver jewelry is because of its soft luster and receptive quality. It is associated with the lunar cycle and believed to enhance creativity.
Stainless Steel, on the other hand, is a group of metal alloys that vary in their chemical composition. There are almost 150 different varieties of stainless steel. So, if you think that the stainless steel used on the espresso maker that rests on your countertop is the same as the one in jewelry, then you are mistaken.
Stainless steel jewelry has recently risen in popularity over sterling silver because of its ability to offer better light reflection after polishing. And there are tons of finishes that are possible with it. It can be made to mimic chrome or have brushed finish like pewter. It is harder and ideal for everyday use due to its resistance to scratches and dents.
The Pros and cons of sterling silver jewelry
Each metal has its own advantages and cons. When it comes to sterling silver, it is a very beautiful metal with several advantages and a couple of reasons why someone may dislike it.
The Pros and Cons of stainless steel jewelry
Stainless holds a slight edge over sterling silver. It can be designed to mimic sterling silver, is more durable than it and is cost effective too.
To sum it up
It would be difficult to pick a clear winner if these were to be pitted against each other. And I think I know why they spent the afternoon in debate. Well, it boils down to personal choice. If it were up to me, I’d go with stainless, especially since I lead an active outdoorsy lifestyle.
On the other hand, if someone prefers something that is more precious in terms of value, sterling silver would be a better choice.