Sterling Silver Necklace vs. Stainless Steel: Which Is Best?

sterling silver necklace

There are certainly many similarities between stainless steel and sterling silver-based necklaces, especially lustre silvery looks. As designers, get the question – which do you prefer, stainless steel or sterling silver? Our answer often is dependant on what we need to form the material and for which type of jewellery.

The same is true for consumers. Their preference may change based on their jewellery needs, especially for pendants and necklaces. Therefore, it is essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each substance and your likes and dislikes in chains.

This article looks at everything you need to know about stainless steel pendant necklaces versus their sterling silver equivalents. Learn more about the differences between stainless steel and sterling silver. Let's look at each individually, their pros and cons and some commonly asked questions from wearers and buyers.

Stainless Steel Necklaces

stainless steel necklaces

Stainless steel jewellery is a popular choice, but the precious metal is also used for more heavy-duty applications such as cutlery and surgical equipment.

There are two features we as designers greatly admire – an ideal reflection of light and durability. Firstly, Stainless steel pendants and necklaces have a higher sheen and shine, which appeals to those of us who love a little bling in their life. Secondly, these pendants are less prone to wear and tear.

Stainless steel pieces of jewellery contain a mix of various metal alloys with different chemical compositions. Stainless steel ranges from approximately 150 variations, and the most common combination is chromium and steel, offering strength and durability. The combination also is low maintenance and corrosion-resistant.

There are other metals used in various combinations in stainless steel jewellery, such as nickel and titanium. So, this means the stainless steel in your necklace or earrings will be different from your steel cutlery.  

Keep in mind stainless steel jewellery do not have a plating system, so allergic reactions are unlikely. However, it can contain minor quantities of nickel, which can lead to skin reactions and irritations.

Stainless steel is prized in jewellery design for its ability to mimic the appearance of chrome or pewter. It is also durable, and its scratch resistant qualities make it perfect for everyday wear.

Pros & Cons of Stainless Steel Necklaces and Pendants

Pros of Stainless Steel 
 Cons of Stainless Steel 
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Harder make-up
  • Increased durability
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Versatile
  • More affordable compared to silver
  • Ideal for everyday wear
  • Easy and low-maintenance cleaning
  • Brighter shine compared to silver
    • It cannot easily be repaired when damaged
    • Heavyset necklace with more weight
    • Can trigger allergic reactions in some people 


    Sterling Silver Necklaces

    sterling silver jewellery

    A definitive difference between silver and stainless steel is it is recognised as an element, not just metal. Though not as rare as its cousins, gold and platinum, the precious metal is still considered a luxury substance in jewellery collections.

    The softness of pure silver makes it challenging to use in jewellery, so sterling silver, an alloy mix of 92.5% pure silver 7.5% copper alloy, is superior in jewellery design. Other common alloy metals include zinc and platinum. 

    Designers and manufacturers created the sterling silver substance to offer wearers more durability and functionality than pure silver. But, sterling silver is still softer than stainless steel.

    sterling silver necklace

    Shop Sterling Silver Heart Pendants 

    Jewellery makers create different types of silver sterling to create more durable substances and jewellery pieces. For example, Argentium silver with germanium makes the metal stronger and tarnish-resistant.

    Rhodium is also used to coat silver for protection against corrosion and making jewellery tarnish-resistant.

    The advantage of sterling silver softness is that it is so malleable that it can be made to create delicate and intricate designs compared to stainless steel. Thus, sterling silver necklaces and pendants are available in a variety of styles, including heart pendant necklaces. It is also easily customisable with gemstones.

    Sterling silver jewellery has a long lifespan when correctly stored and maintained. It is also hypoallergenic, making it ideal for people with allergies or sensitive skin.

    Sterling silver jewellery comes in various kinds of designs. It is often a popular choice in necklaces due to its receptive properties and soft lustre allures. 

    Pros & Cons of Sterling Silver Necklaces and Pendants

    Pros of Sterling Silver 
     Cons of Sterling Silver
    • Soft material makes it easy to create intricate designs
    • More affordable precious metal than gold or platinum. 
    • It offers more malleability and versatility 
    • Easily able to be polished and restored as new
    • Damages are easily reparable
    • Ideal for daily use
    • It offers an excellent lustre for necklaces for a touch of elegance.
    • A softer material, more prone to damages like scratches
    • More prone to tarnishing
    • High-quality sterling silver will cost more 

    Stainless Steel vs Sterling Silver Overview

    In summary, there are various advantages and considerations when thinking about which necklace material will best suit you. Some points are different, others are shared. Let's go over the main differences below:

    Strength and Durability

    Stainless Steel is a more robust metal contributing to its overall longer lifespan compared to sterling silver necklaces. However, lower-grade sterling silver is less durable compared to sterling silver products. Always check your necklace labels for quality assurance.


    Sterling silver is lighter & glossier than stainless steel. On the other hand, steel reflects a mirrored appearance offering more shine.


    The softness and malleability of sterling silver allows for more intricate designs, especially in pendants and charms. Stainless steel designs tend to be more chunky and bolder.


    Sterling silver is far less dense compared to stainless steel, so a silver necklace will feel lighter around your neck, especially if you have an accompanied pendant.


    Both metals are hypoallergenic. Sterling Silver contains copper, which can cause allergies, but the different metal combinations in Stainless steel necklaces, notably nickel, will also cause skin irritability. Always check the label for the various alloys included.


    Sterling silver will more often tarnish than stainless steel. This reflects the soft nature of silver and highlights the lower maintenance in stainless steel necklaces. However, if cared for properly, both have a long lifespan.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is stainless steel or sterling silver better for those prone to allergies and skin irritation?

    Both stainless steel and sterling silver are non-allergenic. However, some stainless steel alloys use nickel in necklaces and less so in rings.

    Certain substances prone to producing rashes can cause skin problems, including nickel, making them susceptible to skin infection more frequently. High-quality sterling silver should be nice-free, and therefore is a safer option for sensitive skin.

    How much does stainless steel vs sterling silver necklaces cost?

    Various factors impact the cost of any necklace. However, sterling silver necklaces can cost over a hundred times more than stainless steel, is it is a more particular type of metal. It should also be noted that the cost of stainless steel necklaces also varies based on the quality and substance of the material. Overall, sterling silver is more expensive than stainless steel.

    Is stainless steel more durable than sterling silver?

    Stainless steel generally is more durable than sterling silver in most cases. Still, many variables such as care and wear habits and maintaining the necklace will impact its lifespan.

    It also should be noted that variances in the quality of your stainless steel may, in cases, render it less durable than consistent sterling silver. High-grade sterling silver necklaces are better than low-grade stainless steel necklaces in terms of their durability.

    However, the 'general rule' stand that stainless steel wins on durability. 

    Luxury Sterling Silver Jewellery Set

    Crystal Heart Necklace & Heart Earrings

    DEPHINI presents its most refined 925 Sterling Silver crystal heart pendant and earrings set, embellished with high-quality cubic zircon crystals.

    The necklace is rigorously contacted tested: it's nickel-free, lead-free, cadmium-free and hypoallergenic.

    Our high-quality Italian silver is rhodium plated, meaning it's resistant to corrosion and oxidation, increasing its durability.

    The classic heart design is a feature of Dephini, playing with the modern heart lines representing femininity gathering at a perfecting cut diamond shape zircon (CZ) crystal. Its elegancy and contemporary style make it perfect for casual, formal or business wear.

    Complete the look with the stunning heart earrings great for everyday wear or a special occasion and bridal.

    Our heart gift set is the perfect choice as a valentine gift, Mother's Day gift, birthday gifts for her, April birthstone gift, best friend earrings, or gift for girls.