Jewelry Allergy: How to avoid this really annoying issue!

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Jewelry Allergy: main culprits

Jewelry allergy is a really annoying issue! It’s 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 or even Cobalt or Chromium.

It occurs as Dermatitis and common signs are:

  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Irritation
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Bumps
  • Tenderness
  • Dry patches
  • Blisters
  • Bluish-green patches

How To Prevent Jewelry Rash? Is The Answer To Buy Purer Gold?

Not necessarily! 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. Then White Gold, for example, is alloyed with Nickel and Rose Gold uses Copper and sometimes Zinc.

Nevertheless, the purer the gold is, the less likely that you will break out in a rash.

How about 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 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 be allergic to copper but nickel is often the culprit.

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.

Problem-free Jewelry

  • Buy Jewellery made out of hypoallergenic metals such as surgical-grade steel or gold. The purer the gold is, the less likely that you will break out in a rash.
  • Buy Vermeil gold as the base metal is silver which rarely causes problems
  • Buy Gold-filled jewelry as the alloy base is always well sealed with a decent layer of gold, although this might rub off over the years.
  • Buy Rhodium plated Jewelry. Rhodium does not tarnish or corrode and being much harder increases the durability of the metal making it scratch resistant. More importantly, it is hypoallergenic so it will not irritate your skin.

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 and 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.

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 lock-down. 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.

In Conclusion

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. 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 which creates an invisible shield to protect sensitive skin. See the image below:

jewelry coating protection

Remember if you have skin problems avoid the rose gold color as this is made with copper which is another metal that can cause allergies.

Check out cleaning jewelry and Storage solutions, how to keep your rings sparkling


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Stuart Goldsmith
Stuart Goldsmith B.A (CCAT). Buying Office and quality control expert specialized in UK fashion market working with large retail groups. Post-Covid born-again blogger.

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