An Expert’s Guide to Telling Differences Between Stainless Steel vs. Sterling Silver Jewelry

Posted November 9, 2020 by in Fashion

Have you ever proudly shown someone your new, expensive piece of silver jewelry only for them to tell you it’s actually stainless steel?

So embarrassing! 

Don’t worry, we won’t let that happen again.

Below, we’ll discuss the differences between stainless steel vs. sterling silver jewelry so that you know what to look out for in the future.

What Is Sterling Silver?

Silver, a popular metal used in jewelry making, is too soft to be used on its own. When combined with an alloy, it becomes more durable. This creates sterling silver.

Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper alloy. The word “Sterling” or the numbers “925” are often stamped into the jewelry.

Take a look at this article for more info about .925 sterling silver.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is made from carbon, nickel, chromium, iron, and other metals.

Hypoallergenic stainless steel contains less nickel. This makes it less likely to cause an allergic reaction or irritate sensitive skin.

The Pros and Cons of Sterling Silver


If you want jewelry that looks expensive and classy, sterling silver is for you.

Like gold or platinum, silver is a precious metal, so it’s more valuable than stainless steel. Sterling silver has a certain shine and glow that can’t be replicated with stainless steel.

Sterling silver is soft so it can be molded into intricate and unique shapes.


Precious metals aren’t cheap, and silver is no exception. Sterling Silver is a lot more expensive than stainless steel.

It also requires a lot of upkeep. Silver tarnishes over time, becoming dull and blemished. A good polish will have it looking like new again, but this upkeep can become tedious.

Unfortunately, because of its soft nature, sterling silver also scratches and dents easily. For this reason, sterling silver jewelry is best saved for special occasions.

The Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel


Unlike sterling silver, stainless steel won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

It is also very forgiving, with little to no upkeep required. Its durable surface is unlikely to get scratched or dented. Stainless steel won’t rust or tarnish and can be washed with water and soap if it becomes dirty.  

This makes stainless steel jewelry the perfect accessory for everyday use. 


Stainless steel jewelry is very hard, making it difficult to work with. It can’t be resized or repaired easily.

If you are particularly sensitive to nickel, even hypoallergenic stainless steel will cause skin irritations.

How to Tell Sterling Silver and Stainless Steel Apart 

The first difference between stainless steel and sterling jewelry is the color.

Sterling Silver is whiter and has a warmth to it. Stainless steel is a cooler color, with grey undertones.

As mentioned before, sterling silver is often stamped with the word “Sterling” or the numbers “925”.

On older jewelry, the condition of the surface will give a clue about whether it is sterling silver or stainless steel. Stainless steel ages well, retaining its shine and accumulating very few scratches. Silver will blemish and is more likely to be scratched and dented. 

Stainless Steel vs. Sterling Silver, Which Shine Do You Prefer?

Now that you know the differences between Stainless Steel vs. Sterling Silver Jewelry, you can decide which one best suits your lifestyle.

Do you prefer the glamourous elegance of sterling silver or the long-lasting durability or stainless steel?

Comment below and let us know!