Is sterling too soft?

Hello everyone,

A pretty straightforward question. As we all know, sterling silver tarnishes and it firescales and I always assumed these were the main problems with it. I always knew sterling was a softer alloy, much softer than 14 or 18 karat gold. However it seems that a lot of the alternative silver alloys are marketed as being harder, does sterling really need more hardness? What design would be so thin as to require something harder than sterling? Claw settings on a ring put through plenty of abuse maybe? (ie engagement ring)

Also, why do you not see many sterling silver claw set rings? I always thought it had to do with the cost of the stone and therefore it wouldn’t cost much more to go with gold but is softness another concern with silver and claw settings?

Sterling wears much faster than 14K gold. I work for a company that makes jewelry keepsakes where we engrave fingerprints on pieces. They are engraved quite deep. We’ve had customers completely wear the prints off of their rings in a few years! All the way around the ring, where it’s so smooth you can barely tell it was there. These are Argentium rings too although not heat hardened.

I’ve also seen costume jewelry in traditional sterling wear away at the shank in just a few years. I would never trust a claw setting on an expensive stone for everyday wear. I love sterling and think it makes wonderful jewelry, but you do have to take wearability and durability into account.


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