"The world's finest spin tops, crafted without compromise, from my hands to yours."
You will not notice a difference in performance between the contact points, but some people enjoy the difference in appearance, and science behind the materials.Stainless Steel Bearings a good choice if you never want to worry about breaking the contact point. The steel balls used in the Lambda tops are 440C Passivated Stainless Steel. This material is hardened and highly corrosion resistant. 440C is the most common material used in high-quality bearings. It's superior to chrome steel, but not the most exotic steel bearing material.
Instrument Ruby is a crystalline form of Aluminium Oxide and called Corundum. Corundum is a naturally occurring mineral, but instrument rubies are synthetic. This material has the distinction of being the very first gem mineral artificially created in a laboratory. A small amount of impurity (Chromium) gives ruby the distinct red colour.
The brass Lambda top is available with either Stainless Steel or Ruby bearing as described above. Durability is the primary difference between the two tip options. The ruby sphere can shatter if dropped onto a hard surface. This is not covered under the producers' warranty. The ruby (or bearing) also cannot be replaced as they are permanently installed in order to achieve the required degree of accuracy. Contact points cannot be repaired or replaced. They are permanently press-fit into the spindle to achieve the desired degree of balance and accuracy. The stainless bearing is the most durable option across the board. Clumsy? Steel. Got kids? Steel. Will you cry if the contact point breaks? Steel. So why all the fuss about exotic contact points? The difference is the ruby and ceramics are MUCH harder than steel, and will spin more efficiently. It's like the difference between ice skating and snow skiing...both water...both fairly "solid" but which one is more efficient for sliding on? A ruby is a ruby, and if you abuse it...it can chip. It's like a wine glass; works fine until you drop it. The ceramics can also shatter if subjected to enough force, but are generally tougher than the ruby.
Silicon Carbide is the most durable exotic material. Machined from a single piece of solid brass bar stock, these tops in the producers words 'deliver a more perfect spin'. Any machinist will tell you that the most accurate part is the one machined to completion without removing it from the machine. This also means I went from 2 manual machining operations on the two-piece top, to 5 manual operations on the solid top. Does that make the Lambda Solid an even more unpleasant slog of boring, repetitive manual labor? Yep. Is it worth it? Totally. Finally, the cycle time on the CNC is much higher because I have to remove 3/4" of diameter on the bar stock all along the length of the spindle. It also requires another deep drilling operation to get the spindle hole to 80% depth while on the CNC.