Open up your jewelry chest, and what will you find? Metal is overwhelmingly the go-to material for jewelry because it is attractive, malleable, and durable. Whether you tend to wear fashionable costume jewelry or have more expensive tastes, including gold and diamonds, you’re likely stocked with personal accessories made mostly of metal.
While many different types of metal are used in jewelry manufacturing, they are not all created equally. Precious metals like gold and silver are very soft and need to be mixed with other metals, resulting in an alloy, the chemical combination of metals. Nickel is often used in alloys because it is in the top five most abundant elements on Earth and mixes easily with precious metals to form the best alloys for jewelry-making.
Unfortunately, using nickel in jewelry can be problematic for nearly 20% of Americans who have a skin allergy to the element. Luckily, there are hypoallergenic options for those of us with sensitive skin. But what does hypoallergenic really mean?
In this article, we will explore:
- What is hypoallergenic jewelry?
- Best types of hypoallergenic jewelry
- Specific options for hypoallergenic jewelry
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean?
A quick search for the definition of hypoallergenic returns the same vague description: “unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.” In the world of jewelry, hypoallergenic means that the material is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
Jewelry manufacturers can achieve the hypoallergenic label by limiting the nickel content in their products to levels that are less likely to irritate. While it is generally accepted that hypoallergenic jewelry relates to nickel content, it should be noted that nickel is not necessarily the only culprit when it comes to skin allergies caused by jewelry.
If you suffer from skin sensitivity with jewelry, it is critical to know which metals your jewelry is made from. You must determine which metals are truly allergy-free for you. With the guide below, we provide options for the best hypoallergenic jewelry.
The Best Hypoallergenic Jewelry
As a rule, the closer to pure a metal is, the higher the likelihood of being designated as hypoallergenic. A few of the best hypoallergenic metals commonly used in jewelry are:
- Sterling silver
- 24k gold
LaCkore Couture handcrafted jewelry is made of the finest materials, with all metals dipped in hypoallergenic 24K gold or silver. Let our experts at LaCkore Couture find the perfect necklace, ring, or bracelet to have ready for your next occasion and skip the worry about skin irritation.
A premium choice for hypoallergenic jewelry is platinum, a shiny silverish-white, corrosion-resistant metal. Platinum’s natural properties make it an excellent jewelry-forging material without the need to add significant amounts of other metals in alloys.
Platinum is mined along with rhodium, palladium, and other metals in Columbia and America. It is an element that is much rarer than gold and, therefore, much more expensive. When used in jewelry, it is typically alloyed with other hypoallergenic metals, including ruthenium, iridium, and cobalt. Because it is so pure compared to other metals used in jewelry-making, it’s a great option for people with sensitive skin.
Palladium can be a more affordable precious metal in the same group of elements as platinum. Like platinum, palladium is also shiny, silvery-white, and hypoallergenic due to its purity.
Palladium differs from platinum in its density. The less-dense palladium element is more malleable and may need to be alloyed with harder metals. Palladium by itself is brittle, but when used as a metal alloy in white gold, it can be a substitute for nickel to produce a hypoallergenic version of white gold.
Rhodium-Plated Sterling Silver
Rhodium is an element found as a byproduct when mining for platinum; therefore, it can be quite expensive, and its availability ebbs and flows in conjunction with platinum supply. Rhodium by itself is brittle and difficult to work with. While it is generally too expensive and brittle to be used alone to create jewelry, it is commonly used as a plating metal.
When rhodium is used in plating, a very thin layer is placed over gold, silver, or other metal base metal. This adds luster and strength properties while also providing a hypoallergenic barrier. Rhodium can be used over a not hypoallergenic metal, but eventually, the plating may wear off and cause a skin reaction.
Rhodium-plating over sterling silver may be one of the best hypoallergenic options for jewelry. It uses both hypoallergenic base and plating materials.
Genuine sterling silver, also called 925 silver, can be hypoallergenic. Sterling silver has at least 92.5% pure silver with other metals mixed into the other 7.5%. The other metals in sterling silver can include:
If you are looking for hypoallergenic sterling silver, you will want to make sure that nickel is not one of the metals used in the alloy or that the amount is insignificant.
Up to this point, all of the hypoallergenic jewelry metal options we have covered have been silver in color. Luckily, you are not limited to silver-colored jewelry if you are sensitive to nickel. Yellow gold can be hypoallergenic, depending on the purity.
Gold purity is measured in karats, with a maximum of 24 karats, which means 24K Gold is pure gold. Since 24K gold is 100% pure gold, it contains no nickel and is hypoallergenic.
The downside to pure 24K gold is that it is very soft; therefore, it is rarely used in making jewelry in its purest form. Most of the gold jewelry you find are of lesser karat, 14K or 18K gold, mixed with harder metals.
What You Need to Know About Jewelry Allergies
So if you experience irritation, itching, and redness when you wear your favorite earrings, you might have a metal allergy. If rashes or dry patches occur around a new engagement ring, you could also be having a reaction to the metal used in the band.
These symptoms can also accompany swelling around the contact area, which can later form uncomfortable blisters left to scar the skin permanently. Contact dermatitis is actually very common and, although generally mild, can become severe with prolonged exposure to the jewelry.
If this condition is left untreated, your skin can become seriously damaged, and the skin will remain cracked, dark, rough, and possibly left at risk for infection. If the skin around the area becomes infected, it is essential to contact your medical professional as soon as possible.
Healing: Test and Treatment of Metal Allergies
If having a mild reaction to a piece of jewelry, it is possible to self-diagnose and heal up at home without further issues. However, if you are uncertain of the cause, a dermatologist can do a skin patch test at their office. They will put tiny amounts of these metals on a patch you wear for a few days if the metal jewelry you wear is the culprit. Your skin will react similarly to the patch, and a correct diagnosis can be made.
Once you develop these types of allergies, they can reappear and continue flaring up for the rest of your life. First and foremost, it is essential to avoid contact with any object made of the metal causing the reaction. Luckily there are also ways to prevent it from happening or treat the uncomfortable symptoms that follow experiencing an allergic reaction.
Preventing the Problem
Moisturize your skin daily. The added moisture creates a natural barrier between your skin and the jewelry’s metal. Using emollient creams like petroleum jelly daily can reduce your risk of experiencing a more significant reaction.
Some people take steroids to maintain their allergies, and others even have painted a thin coat of nail polish to rings to reduce exposure. Avoidance is critical to stop this from happening in the first place. Finding nickel jewelry that is lightly coated with 24k gold can highly reduce your risk of possible allergies and skin damage.
Shop LaCkore Couture today for a wide variety of hypoallergenic jewelry.
Treating the Issue
- Remove the jewelry you feel is responsible for the allergic reaction.
- Wash, rinse, and dry the area well.
- Apply a calamine lotion on the surface of the rash or inflammation. Your doctor can prescribe medications like steroids, antihistamines, and medicated ointments to help with recovery.
- Use a wet compress while at home to help soothe blisters and reduce intense itching.
- Phototherapy is another treatment that has helped patients suffering from allergies. This therapy involves exposing affected areas of the skin to a controlled amount of UV light.
Final Thoughts on Hypoallergenic Jewelry
Skin sensitivities can add an extra challenge to your jewelry shopping, but if there’s one thing to learn from it, it’s that you can lean on your jeweler to help choose which metals are in your jewelry. All LaCkore Couture jewelry is handmade from the highest-quality metals, and we can help you pick the best materials that will feel great on your skin. All of our jewelry comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Gold-plating is a more practical way to use 24K pure gold in jewelry, and that’s why at LaCkore Couture, we offer 24K gold plating in most of our collections. Check out our beautiful collection of gold necklaces, which are the perfect hypoallergenic option you can wear today!