Introduction

Silver and stainless steel are two metals with comparable uses in our daily lives: jewellery and flatware/cutlery. Sterling silver has been used for cutlery and cookware for millennia. On the other hand, stainless steel has only been used in cutlery for a little over a century. These two metals are ideal for the job, providing the required level of cleanliness while also being very flexible and pliable. The usage of stainless steel for cutlery, on the other hand, stems from the fact that it is tougher than sterling silver and is more resistant to physical harm, as opposed to silver, which is readily scratched.

What is silver?

Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag, which stands for Argentum, meaning silver in Latin. You may not realise that silver is a precious metal and is one of the few rare metals (albeit not as rare as gold or platinum). However, this metal is soft, which limits its application. As a result, numerous other metals are added to silver in industrial applications or jewellery for hardening purposes.

What is stainless steel?

The most prevalent form of steel is stainless steel. The major component of stainless steel is chromium, responsible for the metal’s rust and corrosion resistance. Stainless steel, however, contains more than just chromium. Stainless steel is mostly an iron alloy. However, chromium accounts for at least 10% of the stainless steel composition. In addition, stainless steel’s robust structure makes it ideal for industrial applications.

Differences between stainless and silver plate

Stainless steel and silver can be differentiated based on the following:

       1. Hardness-

 

         So, how tough is stainless steel when it comes to silver? Metals are graded for hardness on the MOH (Mineral               Hardness) scale, with the hardest mineral, diamond, placed at ten and the softest metal, talc, ranked at the                   bottom. Stainless steel is ranked six on this scale, whereas incredibly soft silver is rated 2.5. Stainless steel is                 widely used for medical implants, body piercings, and jewellery since it has a MOH rating of 6.

       2. Testing the metals

          Silver tests:

  • By inspecting the impressions on the item, you can always determine if you’re dealing with genuine silverware. This test may necessitate the use of a magnifying lens. Look for a STER imprint or a number while searching for imprints. For authentic items, the number on the piece is usually 925, S925,.925, or 92.5 per cent silver. Here’s how you test the silver without leaving a mark, according to an expert.
  • Cleaning your silverware may not seem like much of a test for silver, but it might be the most excellent method to determine if you’re dealing with real silver or not. Simply take a soft, clean cloth and polish your silverware until it sparkles, then inspect the surface of the cloth. After wiping genuine silverware, the white cloth will have minor black stains. The black stains are caused by silver reacting with oxygen and creating an oxide residue. Silver plating adheres to any metal beneath the object, while stainless steel leaves no black residue.
  • If someone informs you that you have an old piece of flatware or jewellery in your hands, look for some visual clues. An ancient silver item, for example, will exhibit indications of wear — both silver and silver replacements age in different ways. A silver-plated thing, for instance, can chip with time, exposing the metal beneath — look for chipping in the handle or around the corners. So, if there are differences between the internal and external metals, you’re not dealing with genuine silver.
  • Silver is a non-ferrous metal that is also paramagnetic. This indicates it either has no attraction to the magnet or has a fragile attraction.
  • The heat conductivity of silver is quite high. So, if you’re dealing with genuine silver, it’ll melt ice cubes exceptionally quickly when it comes into touch with the ice.
  • Silver is malleable and bends, but stainless steel is rigid and will not bend when pressed.
  • There is no odour to genuine silver. If you hold a piece of jewellery close to your nose and emits an odour, it contains a significant amount of copper and is thus not genuine. Although sterling silver contains copper, the amount is insufficient for the piece to smell.
  • When lightly touched or tapped with a metallic coin, Sterling Silver emits a high-pitched bell tone. The duration of this tone should be between 1 and 2 seconds. This sound will not be produced by other metals, such as stainless steel.

         3. Stainless steel test:

  • Specific numbers/codes are inscribed on genuine stainless steel. The imprint usually follows an ASTM or AES coding system and contains a 4-digit code that provides information about the material.
  • Because nickel is added during the production process, stainless steel used for jewellery or industrial purposes is mainly non-magnetic. The addition of nickel lowers the magnetism of stainless steel.
  • Stainless steel is a gleaming silvery metal that has the same appearance on the outside and, if any, cracks.

         4. Maintenance:

  • Stainless steel- In general, cleaning this metal is simple, and if you maintain it clean, it will look wonderful. The good news is that it never becomes stained. However, watermarks may appear. So always remember to keep the item clean. To clean it, all you need is water and a soap solution.
  • Silver plate- You’ll have to use caution to avoid damaging it. If you don’t take care of your silver, it will rust quickly if exposed to salty air.

         5.  Durability:

  • Stainless steel is one of the finest metals for stain resistance, water resistance, and corrosion resistance. Scratch resistance is also a feature of stainless steel. Although it may be used daily, it should not be used in a chemical environment. This is because you may damage the stainless steel metal in some instances.
  • Silver plate- The silver is prone to corrosion in most situations, which might be due to the alloy. If you expose the jewellery to a damp atmosphere or a strong chemical, it will be harmed. Keep in mind that the material is delicate. Therefore it’s conceivable to flake and dent.

        6.  Skin allergies:

  • Stainless steel- is also a usually safe choice because the metal used to make jewellery is nickel-free. However, you may have other metals in your home that include nickel and induce skin responses. As a result, you must determine the sort of metal you possess.
  • Silver- This is safe to use for the vast majority of people; allergies are rarely mentioned. Nickel is the catalyst for the process, and fortunately for you, sterling silver never includes nickel.

         7. Cost:

  • Stainless steel- When compared to galvanized steel, genuine stainless steel will be more expensive. Even so, it will be less costly than other metals on the market, such as silver.
  • Silver- When compared to stainless steel, it is more costly. Sterling silver costs around $18 per pound, but stainless steel costs about $3 per pound. This may not be the precise amount. However, stainless steel can cost more than three dollars on occasion.

Conclusion

We have broken down the many criteria so you can pick the one that best suits your needs. While stainless steel is strong and attractive, there’s something about silver that draws you in. It’s elegant and has the right sheen and look. Therefore, silver is preferable to stainless steel for jewellery. Stainless steel is cost-effective, long-lasting, and typically attractive. However, if you have allergies, you should avoid stainless steel that contains nickel as part of the alloy. On the other hand, stainless steel jewellery is more difficult to come by than sterling silver jewellery.