If you’re allergic to certain metals, you likely walk past the jewelry section when shopping for clothing and accessories. If you can’t find something that is 100% sterling silver or at least 14K gold, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a rash, skin color changes, or irritation. Between five and 10 percent of the population in industrialized countries is allergic to nickel, which is the most common metal allergy. Symptoms of nickel allergy include skin itching and irritation. Dr. Audrey Kunin, president of DERMAdoctor and board-certified dermatologist, asserts that being exposed to nickel consistency can increase the chances that a person will develop an allergy to the metal. A person can develop an allergy to nickel and other metals at any age. The best way to avoid a skin reaction to nickel or other metals is to know how to shop for jewelry. Determining which types of jewelry to stay away from can help you look your best and avoid an allergic reaction.
Avoid Nickel Jewelry
If you’ve noticed a crusty residue on your neck, ears, or fingers after removing your jewelry, you likely have a nickel allergy. Nickel is cheap to produce, is durable, and has a high polish, which is why it’s a popular choice for companies that offer lower-priced jewelry. You’ve likely seen earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made from nickel at your favorite retail store. You may have even purchased a few items in the past only to notice a negative reaction on your skin. When nickel comes in contact with water it creates salt, which is an indication that the nickel is eroding. This means that you may notice a salty crust on areas of your body that collect sweat or moisture if you’re wearing nickel jewelry. You may notice this more readily if you’re wearing nickel rings and have to wash your hands often. The color of the jewelry may turn quickly as well. If the salt is left to settle on the skin for too long, a rash can form.
Choose Palladium Alloys
If you have sensitive skin, your skin will likely turn green when you wear brass or nickel jewelry. Alloys, which are metals that have two or more metallic elements, often contain nickel or brass. Copper, another metallic allergen, is used in alloys to make jewelry as well. When these metals oxidize, they turn the skin green. Look for alloys that contain palladium which is hypoallergenic, has a purity level that is similar to platinum, and is often more affordable.
Use a Metal Testing Kit
Metal testing kits offer several solutions that you rub directly on the jewelry to determine the purity and metal makeup of each jewelry piece. Just drop the solution on a cotton ball and rub it on the jewelry. The solution will change color to indicate which metals are in the jewelry. You can purchase a metal testing kit for around $50. This is one of the most important tips for buying silver when you purchase pieces from a private party or smaller jewelry company, buy a piece from a consignment store, or inherit antique jewelry. The kit will let you know if the jewelry is made from quality materials or mixed with other metals.
Search for Hypoallergenic Fine Jewelry
When people search for fine jewelry pieces, they are likely looking for items that will last for years to come. Quality jewelry pieces may cost more initially but they can save you money in the long run since they are less likely to become tarnished. The purer the jewelry piece, the fewer metals are added to alloys. This is why jewelry made from sterling silver, platinum, and gold is less likely to cause skin rashes or irritation. To make the most of your jewelry purchase, sterling silver is an affordable choice. Be sure the pieces say “925” or “sterling” to avoid jewelry that is silver-plated. Ask a jeweler whether the jewelry has a metal base with copper or brass alloys; these pieces should be avoided if you have sensitive skin.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re shopping for jewelry. Searching for safe jewelry will make it easier for you to find accessories that fit your personal style and allow you to wear your favorite pieces without an allergic reaction.