Silver is a top choice for any type of jewellery, and it’s common to wear this precious metal every day. Silver is light, highly luminous, beautifully coloured, and easily shaped into unique and stunning pieces for your pleasure. But how durable is silver?
Well, silver is actually a relatively soft metal, and is often mixed with copper or other stronger metals to create sterling silver. Y’know, the alloy that probably all your silver jewellery is made from.
While you can be sure that sterling silver is much stronger than pure silver, it’s still fair to question how durable your silver jewellery actually is, or whether you can wear it every day without worry.
As always, we’re here to help. Hopefully, we’ll answer all your questions right here.
- How Durable Is Silver?
- How Sterling Silver's Durability Works
- Can You Wear Silver Every Day?
- Does Silver Break Easily?
- Is Silver Stronger Than Steel?
- Is Silver Tougher Than Gold?
How Durable Is Silver?
Ok, so how durable is silver? If we are talking sterling silver (as we usually are) then it is durable enough to last a lifetime. Yes, you may find scratches, and tarnishing is definitely a nuisance, but with some care and a little time, you can keep your sterling silver looking new forever.
Without the addition of copper or zinc, pure silver jewellery would be easily dented and bent from daily wear. But because almost all silver jewellery is actually sterling silver, we can count on the durability of these pieces without issue.
Your silver bracelet isn’t going to suddenly break or snap, unless it’s put under some serious stress. It will only show signs of wear if it’s scratched or not cleaned properly.
Learn more: how to clean silver jewellery
You should really avoid wearing silver jewellery when near other hard metals (like at the gym) or hard surfaces, because the surface of your pieces can quickly get scratched.
How Sterling Silver's Durability Works
Sterling silver is an alloy (a combination of metals), and its strength comes from the added metals. It has earned its stripes as one of the most versatile and widely-used precious metals today. It's known for its distinct texture, which equals a luxury look and feel.
Below is a quick look at how sterling silver's durability works with four of the most common types of jewellery.
In necklaces, sterling silver provides a strong material that will not scratch or dent easily. The remaining material in a sterling silver necklace is usually copper, which enables the metal to be durable enough for everyday use. While other metal combinations have been tried in ages past, the durability and beauty of sterling silver have long been preferred by makers and customers alike.
Sterling silver earrings are true heirlooms that can be worn day after day, year after year. Unlike base metals and white golds, sterling silver doesn't bend or chip easily. They'll always be shiny and bright, but if they do sustain a ding or two, polished up again, they'll shine like the first day you wore them.
Just because you want to add some glam to your wardrobe doesn't mean you want to deal with bent or dented bangles or cuffs that can spoil your look in an instant. But sterling silver is surprisingly tough, so while it looks beautiful and wears well, it won't crack or bend easily — and it won't chip, or flake. This versatile metal blends well with other metals and boasts a finish that's both durable and lovely.
Sterling silver rings are an excellent choice. The metal is lightweight and durable, and can withstand even the harshest of daily activities. It also won't contain nickel or other harmful elements, meaning that your skin won't be irritated or left with a rash. Properly cared for, silver rings can last a lifetime, bringing beauty to your collection for decades.
Can You Wear Silver Every Day?
If you exercise a little caution, you can wear your sterling silver jewellery every day. Most daily activities pose no risk to your jewellery, and sterling silver really is strong enough to deal with most materials you’re in contact with.
Tarnish is the most likely form of damage you’ll find on your silver jewellery and does tend to appear after a piece has been worn for a long time. This is when silver turns a little discoloured or darker, and loses some of its shine.
Does Silver Break Easily?
In your everyday life, you are very unlikely to break your silver jewellery.It is, however, possible to warp and bend your sterling silver if it's under enough pressure. This is particularly true for sterling silver rings, as they can be put under pressure when you work or lift heavy objects.
If your sterling silver does bend, then you can take it to a jewellery repairer who should be able to reshape your ring. Only in the case that your silver ring is too thin or too worn from excessive contact with hard surfaces will you need to get the ring replaced.
Is Silver Stronger Than Steel?
Fine silver is quite a soft metal, and isn’t anywhere near as strong as steel on its own. Sterling silver is a little closer to steel but isn’t really comparable in terms of strength.
Steel rates about 5 - 6 on Mohs Hardness Scale, the same scale that measures diamond as the hardest material at a solid ten. Sterling silver in comparison sits at about 2.5 - 3 on the Mohs scale, so it’s considerably weaker than steel.
It can be a little like comparing apples and oranges here, because there’s a vast difference in uses between silver and steel.
Steel is used for larger-scale appliances and tools, and if you do any damage to it, it’s not really a huge deal. Whereas, the softness of silver can actually have its uses. It can be melded into fine electrical wire or shaped into beautiful jewellery and antique wear. And for these purposes,an alloy like sterling silver has just the right balance of malleability and durability.
Is Silver Tougher Than Gold?
Silver and gold are always compared in terms of beauty or price pros and cons, but what about their strength?
Generally, the gold used in jewellery is stronger than silver, but it also depends on how many carats of gold are used in a piece. A 24 carat gold piece is about the same or weaker than sterling silver, while 14ct and 18ct gold are a little stronger.
There isn’t much difference between pure gold and silver themselves in terms of hardness, but when we consider that sterling silver is 92.5% silver, it’s easy to see why most gold items are a little stronger. For example, a 9ct gold piece is actually only 37.5% gold, which means there are a lot of other stronger metals in its makeup.
Only 24ct gold is pure gold, so the small amount of copper, zinc or other harder metal in sterling silver is enough to make silver the more durable choice. When you add rhodium plating into the mix, silver is the winner hands down.
Most forms of gold and silver you see in jewellery are durable enough to last you forever, as long as you take them off when needed and clean them as advised. Now you know how durable silver is, don’t forget to check out the stunning silver items in our collection before you go.