First what exactly is Jewelry Allergy? Let’s try and avoid this really annoying issue!
Jewelry Allergy is a hypersensitivity to metal and is a disorder of the immune system. It is caused by contact with the base metal, which in affordable jewelry is often Nickel.
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Which metal can cause allergy?
Potentially you can develop an allergy to any metal. However, the main offenders are nickel, cobalt, or chromium.
Allergies are common in jewelry used in piercings such as earrings when body moisture mixes with the offending metal.
What does jewelry allergy look like?
It occurs as Dermatitis and common signs are:
- Dry patches
- Bluish-green patches
How do you know if you are allergic to nickel?
A dermatologist can expose various metals to your skin in a ‘Patch test’. If the skin has a reaction this will be a sign of a metal allergy.
Why do manufacturers use Nickel in Jewellery?
Nickel is an inexpensive metal that is extensively found in the earth’s crust. It is in fact the fifth most common element and alloys well with other metals.
How To Prevent Jewelry Rash?
Buying higher-quality jewelry will help prevent jewelry rash. Any of the following are said to be hypoallergenic. This means they are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
- Yellow gold 14k or higher
- Stainless steel
Check out this Petite dainty platinum engagement ring from Brilliant Earth
Check out this stainless steel ring from Hugo Boss. It is available from Ruby & Oscar and if you use the code JEWEL221 there is an extra 5% discount.
Isn’t all gold hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately not! As I explained in my post, Gold rings in 2022: The Eternal appeal, all gold jewelry contains varying percentages of alloys to make the gold more durable.
10k gold, for example, contains more alloys and is only 41.7% gold
White Gold, for example, can be alloyed with palladium, platinum but also nickel.
Rose Gold uses Copper and sometimes Zinc.
The purer the gold is, the less likely that you will break out in a rash.
Jewelry allergy from silver?
Silver Jewelry is normally made out of sterling silver which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy. The alloy is normally copper but in cheaper jewelry can be a nickel. The copper makes the silver harder, more durable, and therefore much better to work with and use, but without compromising on color. It is possible to get a Jewelry allergy from copper but nickel is often the culprit.
When sterling silver jewelry is made by a reputable company and alloyed with copper you won’t have too many problems.
Check out this 6 mm made-in-the-USA silver ring called Aria from Brook & York.
Check out my post :
How about demi-fine jewelry?
Vermeil gold uses silver as the base metal which rarely causes jewelry allergy.
Gold-filled jewelry is made with a base of sterling silver, copper, or jeweler brass. This is done using heat and pressure. The alloy base is always well-sealed with a decent layer of gold. Thus your skin is in contact only with the gold and thus jewelry allergy is unlikely. However, the layer of gold might rub off over the years.
Jewelry to avoid
Avoid gold-plated jewelry if you suffer from allergies, especially if in contact with sensitive areas, like ear lobes, as the base is often nickel. If your Jewel was low priced, it is likely that the gold plating is quite thin, and will eventually wear off.
Avoid brass if you are allergic to copper and zinc. Your skin could turn green.
If you get an allergy what is the best treatment
First one should stop wearing the jewel that is giving you problems.
You can usually buy cortisone or antihistamine creams without a prescription to alleviate the itchiness.
However, if the allergy persists, go and see a doctor.
Choosing where to buy
Yesterday I checked out one of our local Florentine, upmarket department stores. It had a great fashionable offer from all the latest designers. Each time I asked if a piece was vermeil or gold plated, the sales-girl had to make a telephone call for an answer which is a trifle frustrating. Thus, more and more buyers are turning to online offers for affordable jewelry, especially as I write during the lockdown. This is because online companies have to give good descriptions of what they are selling. There is no pressure buying online, it’s easier to make price comparisons and there is normally the possibility of sending it back if you are not happy.
However, for more serious investments, the experienced jeweler in a local shop will usually be able to give sound advice, especially if you have problems with allergies.
I am allergic to my favorite piece of jewelry. What can I do?
Nowadays you can even buy protective coatings which can be painted on to give you a layer of protection. For example, you can find a Jewelry Coating that creates an invisible shield to protect sensitive skin. See the image below:
It’s good practice to remove jewels before doing any sports or exercising to avoid contact with perspiration, which is acid, or activity involving water. If you know you have allergies don’t buy gold plated and make sure your gold filled is well finished. However, my dermatologist told me that some people wear jewels for years without any problems and then suddenly develop an allergic reaction.