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What’s the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Stainless Steel?

The world of metals is vast and confusing. But we’re about to make it a little easier. Prepare yourself for some metal education !

What’s the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Stainless Steel?


Well, let’s talk about what stainless steel and sterling silver have in common first: both are alloys (meaning they are metals made up a combination of two other metals).

Now for the differences:

Stainless steel is made up of steel and chromium. It contains within it the strength and durability of steel with the luster, easy maintenance and resistance to corrosion of chromium. Stainless steel is used in surgical equipment, cookware, architecture and jewelry, among many other uses.

Sterling silver is made up of silver and another metal, most commonly copper, though potentially zinc or platinum. Silver by itself is too soft for most functional purposes, hence why its alloyed with another metal. This means it has the strength and functionality of the alloyed metal with the beautiful and lustrous appearance of silver.

Sterling silver is used to produce cutlery, jewelry, musical instruments (some manufacturers prefer to use sterling silver over brass).

Differences between sterling silver and stainless steel also include:


Stainless Steel:


More scratch resistant than silver

Doesn’t tarnish

Less lustrous


Sterling silver:


Less scratch resistant than steel


More lustrous

Lighter in weight

One of the main benefits of sterling silver is its appearance; it looks brighter and shinier. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is more durable and can last longer; it doesn’t tarnish but its also not as shiny.


Sterling Silver Tip: If you see a marking on that reads “.925,” this signifies the minimum fineness required for an object to be considered sterling silver.

A pure silver business card.

A pure silver business card.

100 Years in Jewells Business

Today, Joseph Schubach builds upon his family's experience and continues the tradition with Joseph Schubach Jewelers, offering both intimate jewelry brokering in his Scottsdale, Arizona showroom and full-service online sales to clients from around the world, where he has maintained that personal customer connection in the virtual world.

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