Appearance-wise, stainless steel and sterling silver have a lot in common. They’re both silver in color, they can both be polished to a high shine, and they both have a pleasantly smooth surface.
Given a choice, most people will say they prefer sterling silver out of the two as it is considered a precious metal. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean it’s always the right choice. As a strong, versatile metal, there are times when stainless steel can be superior to silver.
Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of stainless steel and sterling silver so you can see for yourself how stainless steel is often the superior choice. Remember to check back at Monera Design and browse our extensive range of whole stainless steel jewelry after reading.
You've probably seen stainless steel used for cutlery, cooking equipment, and even surgical tools. But, nowadays, it's also an extremely popular jewelry material.
Surgical steel is revered for its high sheen and durability as well as its non-corrosive properties. While there is more than one type of stainless steel, each exhibits these qualities. Monera Design uses 316L stainless steel for its jewelry, a carefully produced variant with less carbon and high molybdenum. This makes our jewelry stronger and with a yet more luxurious luster.
The Pros of Stainless Steel
- Non-corrosive: Stainless steel is an alloy made from a variety of materials. One of which is chromium. Combined with steel, this forms a protective layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the jewelry, preventing moisture and contaminants from damaging the piece.
- More durable: Steel is used for industrial applications due to its high tensile strength. When applied to jewelry, this makes stainless steel rings, necklaces, earrings, and charms, all resilient to distortion and looking their best.
- Affordable: Unlike sterling silver, stainless steel is made from non-precious metals. This means it is a lot cheaper to manufacture and can wholesale stainless steel jewelry can be resold at a much more affordable rate.
- Great for everyday use: Because stainless steel jewelry is more durable and non-corrosive, it is therefore ideal for everyday jewelry. This means more sales as customers are more willing to regularly wear a bigger range of stainless steel pieces.
- Scratch-resistant: One of the biggest problems with precious metals is that they are soft. This means rings, especially, can become scratched over time and dull. Stainless steel rings are hard enough to resist this, however, making them much better suited.
- Shinier than silver: Thanks to chromium, nickel, and other metals added to stainless steel, it can achieve a much higher shine than sterling silver that lasts.
- Easy to clean: As it is non-corrosive and scratch-resistant, stainless steel can be cleaned without fear of damaging the surface.
The Cons of Stainless Steel
- Harder to repair: While the durability of stainless steel is admired, it also makes it more difficult to repair should it need it. This is a rare situation, however, and due to the affordability of the jewelry it is typically not an issue.
- Small allergy risk: Because some stainless steel includes nickel, there is an allergy risk associated with the jewelry. While this is only a small risk, with the vast majority of people safe to use stainless steel, there is a small proportion of the population who may develop a small rash or irritation, similar to silver allergies.
- Lighter: As an alloy, stainless steel is also lighter than silver. For some this is a benefit, making the jewelry more comfortable to wear, especially with pendants. For others, however, the weight of a piece is important.
Sterling silver is considered one of the world's most precious materials. Most silver jewelry is silver 925, with the figure indicating that it contains 92.5% silver. The remaining material is made up of other materials, typically copper. This is added because pure silver is a very soft metal.
While some jewelers will make 100% pure silver pieces, most manufacturers will use silver 925 so it is more suitable for usage.
The Pros of Sterling Silver
- More intricate designs: As sterling silver is more malleable, it can be crafted into extremely intricate designs more easily. While modern stainless steel manufacturing can still produce great designs, sterling silver pieces have a distinct look because of their soft makeup.
- Can be renewed: While sterling silver does tarnish, it can also be renewed quite easily. Using specialized cleaners or even household products, you can bring silver back to a polished shine without difficulty.
- Repairable: As sterling silver is softer than stainless steel, it is a lot easier to repair. Dents can be hammered out, extensions can be added to rings, and scratches can be polished away.
- Develops its own luster: While the softness of silver does mean it loses its original finish over time, the new patina and worn look that develops is often considered charming in its own right.
- More affordable than gold: While sterling silver is still a precious metal, it is not as expensive as gold. This makes it a great choice if looking for a quality piece on a budget.
The Cons of Sterling Silver
- Prone to dents and scratches: One of the downsides of sterling silver jewelry's malleability is pieces are more likely to become scratched and dented. This is somewhat counteracted by its reparability but makes the jewelry more costly to maintain.
- Tarnishes: Due to the oxidizing nature of silver, it will develop a tarnish on the surface. This can make the jewelry look dull and leave residue on skin and surfaces.
- Small allergy risk: while silver is considered hypoallergenic, there are some hypersensitive allergy sufferers who cannot wear silver jewelry. This is a very rare occurrence, however.
- Costs more than stainless steel: While cheaper than gold and platinum, sterling silver is still considerably more expensive than stainless steel. Given the similarity of the materials in appearance, and the superiority of stainless steel in terms of durability, silver is sometimes not the right choice.
Fortunately, there is no need to choose between the two. Both stainless steel and sterling silver jewelry pieces are relatively inexpensive with the benefits of both being able to be enjoyed by customers.
If you need to stock up on a wide range of wholesale stainless steel or sterling silver jewelry, visit Monera Design’s online store now. Based in the jewelry capital of the world, Bangkok, Monera Design is one of the world’s leading wholesale jewelry manufacturers. We offer bulk discounts, fast shipping, and have an enormous collection on offer.