Sterling Silver Vs Stainless Steel

Both metals can be used for jewellery, but which is better stainless steel or sterling silver? We investigate the pros and cons of each metal, so you can decide which is right for you.

Sterling Silver vs Stainless Steel

Stainless steel and sterling silver can look the same and are hard to tell apart once they are polished so, aside from the price difference, what makes one material a better choice for certain items than the other?

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is an alloy made of 92.5% silver, with the remainder 7.5% made up of another metal, usually copper. This combination makes the metal much stronger and more durable than pure silver and the jewellery created with it will be harder wearing and more scratch-resistant. Sterling silver has the appearance of solid silver and is often stamped with 925 or .925 to represent the percentage of real silver used. Please see our Guide to Sterling Silver to find out more.

Pros of Sterling Silver Jewellery
  • It is a precious metal
  • It is soft and malleable so can be used to create lots of beautifully intricate designs
  • Over time silver wears to develop a beautiful finish with tiny imperfections that make it unique and gives the piece of jewellery character
  • It can be easily repaired or resized
  • Silver can have different finishes for example high shine or matte finish.
Cons of Sterling Silver Jewellery
  • It can tarnish over time but can be cleaned to restore its lustre. See our Sterling Silver Care Guide to find out more
  • Silver can get scratched
  • If fine, it may bend with repetitive daily wear or knocks.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a metal compound of iron, carbon and chromium. It is highly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of most everyday activities. This makes it a popular choice for things like rings that experience a lot of contact and perhaps the occasional knock.

Pros of Stainless Steel Jewellery
  • The hard metal doesn’t tarnish and resists scratches
  • It has a high lustre and, when polished, can be mistaken for sterling silver
  • It is relatively inexpensive
  • Stainless steel is hypoallergenic so a good choice for people with skin allergies
  • It is an environmentally friendly option – creating stainless steel uses less energy and waste than precious metals and it’s fully recyclable
  • It is easily cleaned with gentle soap and water.
Cons of Stainless Steel Jewellery
  • It is difficult to repair or resize
  • It needs to be polished once in a while to maintain its shine
  • Stainless steel is durable, but one of the things it doesn’t like is chlorine. Make sure you remove stainless steel jewellery before hitting the pool.

Surgical Steel

Surgical steel is a type of stainless steel that has a higher corrosive resistance. This makes it perfect for use in piercings and for other medical purposes.

At Inscripture HQ we mainly use .925 Sterling silver for our jewellery as it gives us the ability to create delicate and detailed designs.

We choose to create some items in stainless steel as they can be worn by people who are sensitive to precious metal. We also feel it’s the best options for most of our Ashes Range, our Keyrings and Stretch Bracelets so they are hard-wearing, scratch-resistant and affordable.

Explore our full range of Memorial Jewellery