How To Tell If You're Allergic To Your Jewelry

A closeup of a woman’s necklaces.

Everyone wants to look their best when expressing their inner sense of style through their choice of fashion and jewelry. But what if your jewelry is starting to cause you some problems you may not have bargained for? If you think that your favorite pieces may be triggering allergic reactions but aren’t quite sure why, please continue to learn everything you’ll want to know about what you can do going forward. Worst case scenario, you may have to ditch some of your old pieces and invest in some new stellar options from the artisan experts at LaCkore Couture.

Related: How to Untangle a Necklace

What is a Jewelry Allergy and What Causes Them?

A jewelry allergy is just what it sounds like, an allergy to jewelry. Or, more specifically, the different types of metals that jewelry tends to contain. Metal hypersensitivity is a type of disorder involving the immune system where the body responds negatively to the presence of certain metals and sees them as a foreign threat, causing an allergic reaction. 

It’s a common condition that impacts between 10-15% of the general population. While it’s most problematic for those with metal implants or who accidentally inhale or eat metal ions, it also causes problems for those who like wearing different types of metal jewelry. These allergic reactions are especially pronounced with piercings because the metal goes through the skin rather than simply lying on it.

What are the Symptoms of a Jewelry Allergy, and What Does it Look Like?

Metal allergies related to jewelry look relatively similar to allergic reactions from poison ivy or other skin allergies and tend to feature a range of symptoms depending on the person having the reaction. These symptoms can include:

  • Itchy or irritated skin
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Reddening of the skin 
  • Hives
  • Dry patches or scaly skin
  • Blisters

Though these are the symptoms of many allergies, you’ll know your jewelry is causing them because they occur in the same place where your jewelry touches the skin. For example, rings will cause a rash in the shape of the band that you’ll see once the ring is removed, and necklaces will leave a rash line exactly where the metal touched your skin.

Related: How to Tell if Jewelry is Real Gold

Which Metals Can Cause Allergic Reactions?

A large, bold necklace made of metal alloy.

If you’re allergic to any metal, you may have heard that you should buy 24K (pure) gold jewelry because you can’t be allergic to gold. This is a myth. While allergies to gold are relatively uncommon, the truth is that people can be allergic to any metal, and therefore any kind of metal-made jewelry. That said, it’s a good idea to note that some metals are more likely to trigger allergic reactions than others.

Most Likely Metals to Cause Allergic Reactions

When it comes to metals that are the most likely to cause problematic reactions in those with metal hypersensitivity, the following are the usual suspects:

Allergy to Nickel

Nickel in the metal, which is present in jewelry, typically causes more severe skin reactions. You can develop a nickel allergy at any age.

Usually, it shows up 12 to 48 hours after the initial interaction. A red, itchy rash with watery blisters may be the reaction's outward manifestation. 

Although it occasionally appears in other body regions, it can sometimes manifest in other parts of the body!

If you have a nickel allergy, you'll probably experience this similar symptom every time the metal comes into contact with your skin.

Other types of metals that can cause similar reactions are:

Manufacturers typically use these metals to form alloys with small amounts of other, higher-quality metals in producing lower-quality jewelry, like costume jewelry. If you suffer from a metal allergy, you'll want to actively avoid cheaper pieces, even if their prices are compelling.

What Type Of Jewelry Contains Nickel?

A silvery-white metal called nickel can be found in nature. To create alloys, it is typically combined with other metals. The most popular nickel alloy, for instance, is nickel-iron, which is used to make stainless steel. There are several products made from other nickel alloys, including:

  • Coins
  • Cutlery
  • Pencils
  • Paper clips
  • Tools
  • Keys
  • Bra fasteners
  • Zippers
  • Snaps
  • Buttons

Finding out if you also react to these other items will help you rule out additional allergies in addition to a nickel allergy. 

You may substitute plastic, coated or painted metal, or other materials.

Is nickel present in your beloved pearl ring? How does your jewelry stack up? Using a nickel spot test, you can safely check your jewelry and other suspected metallic goods for nickel content. One of these kits is available online.


Sometimes latex is used to create non-metal embellishments for jewelry. 

Sometimes specific skin reactions mistaken for latex allergies are brought on by the solvents, curing agents, or other ingredients used in latex manufacturing.

A doctor can perform a latex allergy test on you. A latex allergy, however, might result in adverse health effects like:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • An accelerated heartbeat
  • A sharp drop in blood pressure

Inform your doctor if wearing non-metal jewelry results in more severe symptoms than hives.

Least Likely Metals to Cause Allergic Reactions

Again, all metals can potentially cause problems for those with a metal hypersensitivity, but the following are usually much less likely to trigger a reaction:

  • High karat yellow gold (containing little to no other metals)
  • Sterling silver
  • Stainless steel
  • Platinum
  • Copper

Those with metal sensitivity will want to avoid wearing any white gold or plated jewelry since these tend to be alloyed with cobalt or nickel and have a much higher chance of triggering a reaction.

Are you looking for unique jewelry based on gorgeous exotic designs to showcase your inner style? Check out their assortment of handcrafted necklaces, rings, bracelets, and more offered by the artisans at LaCkore Couture today to find a new way to express yourself.

How to Test if You Have a Jewelry Allergy

Skin-patch tests are a standard allergy skin test that involves a doctor placing different types of allergens (in this case, metals) on the skin of your upper back and securing them with patches. The patches and allergens are typically left in place for at least 48 hours before being removed to check if they caused an allergic reaction. Sometimes additional tests will be needed, but this is usually the best way to determine the extent of your metal allergies and know which ones you’ll want to avoid in the future.

Related: The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Gold Jewelry

Steps to Follow if You Have an Allergy to Jewelry

A woman putting on steroid cream for her metal allergy.

If you’ve determined that you have an allergy to any metals typically found in jewelry, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to stop wearing all jewelry altogether. There are a few basic solutions you can try before having to make such a drastic switch.

How To Still Wear Jewelry

There is good news even if you have reactions. You may take care of your jewelry so that you can wear it without experiencing any adverse effects.

Here is a list of things you can do to still wear jewelry!

Stick with the best stuff

Make sure all your jewelry is made of 14-karat gold or sterling silver. Although costly, that is the most efficient cure.

Consider stainless steel

Try wearing earrings with plastic or stainless steel backs, and look for earrings with stainless steel posts. 

Although nickel is present in stainless steel, it is so firmly bound that it does not leach out. 

Try getting your ears pierced with a stainless steel needle and wearing nickel-free stud earrings if you believe you are sensitive to metals and wish to get your ears pierced.

Consider hypoallergenic

Some jewelers sell jewelry that has been carefully treated as "hypoallergenic.

When wearing this type of jewelry, people who have little metal sensitivity experience fewer reactions.

Stop Wearing Jewelry Temporarily, and Wear it Again 

If you suspect that a particular piece of jewelry is triggering a reaction, stop wearing it for a while until the symptoms of the reaction go away. Then try wearing it again to see if it produces the same result. If you have another reaction, you'll know it contains a metal you're allergic to, and you'll want to either give it to a friend, donate it, or throw it away.

Use a Steroid Cream

You can try applying a cortisone- or other types of anti-inflammatory steroid cream- to the reaction area to see if it helps the healing process. This won't make you immune to a reaction, but it may help clear them up.

Apply a Protective Lacquer or Clear Nail Polish to the Jewelry

If you really love a particular piece of jewelry that your body reacts to negatively, there may be a way to keep wearing it. If it doesn't ruin the piece, consider applying a layer or two of protective lacquer or even clear nail polish to the parts that come into contact with your skin. You'll have to reapply it on occasion because it will eventually wear off, but this can be a helpful method of protecting yourself from your favorite pieces. Just make sure you don't have an allergy to the lacquer or nail polish as well!

Are you looking for a stellar new source of gorgeous, artisan-crafted jewelry to help you express the truth of your inner style? Take a look at the range of handcrafted products proudly presented by the experts at LaCkore Couture to learn more about what each of their pieces can do for your sense of style today.