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Hypoallergenic Jewelry – A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Hypoallergenic jewelry

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Jewelry serves to compliment your outfit and appearance but there are instances when your jewelry piece can cause your skin to itch or develop rashes. This is something that can easily happen to people with very sensitive skin. If this has ever happened to you, it means you’re probably allergic to some metals your jewelry contains so in this case, you might want to settle for hypoallergenic jewelry instead.

In this article, we’ll be taking a quick look at everything you should know about hypoallergenic jewelry and whether it could be the right choice for you.   

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What is Hypoallergenic Jewelry?

When shopping for jewelry, you may have come across some that are labeled hypoallergenic. 

Hypoallergenic jewelry is made from metals that are safe for your skin as they do not cause allergic reactions.

Components that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. In jewelry, the most common allergen is nickel. Other metals associated with allergic reactions include copper and brass.

Why is Nickel Used to Make Jewelry?

Most jewelers use nickel when making their pieces since it’s a cost-effective option with strengthening properties. Nickel is a naturally occurring white metal that’s often used in alloys.

Metals such as gold and copper are soft. To make them durable, jewelers combine them with nickel to form a strong alloy. It’s not very common to find jewelry made from pure metals since most are comprised of alloys of two or more metals.  

Unfortunately, the use of nickel in jewelry is the leading cause of allergic reactions. It easily reacts with body fluids like sweat, acid from the skin and body oils, causing itchiness and rashes on sensitive skin.

Common Signs of an Allergic Reaction

If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably familiar with the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions. These symptoms vary from one person to another and the time it takes for them to appear also differs.

You may start experience the symptoms of an allergic reaction soon after your skin is exposed to a particular metal. Here are the common signs and symptoms of allergic reactions:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red rash
  • Watery blisters
  • Sore and teary eyes
  • Skin discoloration
  • Inflammation and swelling on the skin
  • Flaky skin

What Metals are Safe for the Skin?

Metals in their pure form such as gold are generally safe for the skin. It’s only in extreme cases that an individual will have an allergic reaction to pure metals. Here’s a list of metals that are considered safe for the skin and are unlikely to cause any allergies:

Gold

24k gold earrings

Solid 24K gold earrings by Averie Jewelry. See them here.

Pure gold (24k) is kind to the skin and will not cause allergic reactions. Choose gold that’s 18k or higher as it has a higher concentration of gold. 14k gold jewelry is equally good, although it may contain some copper.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver ring

Boho sterling silver ring by Hoops NY. See it here.

This is another safe metal for sensitive skin. Contrary to what most people may think, sterling silver is not pure silver but an alloy. To make this metal, 92.5% of silver is alloyed with about 7.5% of copper.

Sterling silver jewelry may be difficult to find so a good alternative for this is silver-filled or silver plated jewelry. These would work well if your skin is not so sensitive to silver.

Niobium

Niobium necklace

Heart shaped niobium necklace by Cocos Titanium Jewelry. See it here.

Niobium may be the safest metal available for people with hypersensitive skin. Unlike many other metals, niobium does not have any additives since it’s 100% pure. This metal is typically used in the medical field, to make body implants such as knee plates. You can confidently wear niobium jewelry without fear even if you’re someone who has severe metal allergies.

Titanium

Titanium bracelet

Titanium identification bracelet by Rixen Jewels. See it here.

Titanium is a hypoallergenic metal that doesn’t contain any cobalt or nickel, making it very safe for people with sensitive skin. You won’t have to worry about getting any allergic reactions when wearing titanium jewelry. It’s also a great alternative to silver or gold since it is comparatively cheaper.

Rhodium

Rhodium earrings

Silver rhodium hoop earrings by Meltemi Collection. See them here.

Rhodium is a hard, silvery-white, corrosion-resistant metal that’s kind to the skin and won’t cause any irritation. This metal is rarely used to make whole jewelry pieces, but is popular for plating. Most jewelers prefer using rhodium plating because it’s shiny, smooth and corrosion-resistant.

Pros and Cons of Hypoallergenic Jewelry

Weighing the pros and cons of hypoallergenic jewelry is important since it will give you an idea of what to look for when you go jewelry shopping. Let’s take a look.

Pros of Hypoallergenic Jewelry

There are many reasons why you should stop buying random jewelry and switch to hypoallergenic pieces. Let’s take a look at the benefits of wearing hypoallergenic jewelry. 

  1. It’s comfortable – The last thing you need is to spend your day scratching away at your ear or neck because of an allergic reaction caused by cheap and unsafe jewelry. Hypoallergenic jewelry is comfortable to wear all day and you won’t have to keep changing or removing it.
  2. It leaves no rashes – Hypoallergenic jewelry is kind to the skin, as the metals used are pure and of premium quality. You won’t have unsightly rashes on your ear, neck, or other body parts because of allergies. 
  3. It’s durable – Hypoallergenic jewelry is durable because of the high-quality metals used. Buying such jewelry is a long-term investment, as you’ll be able to wear it repeatedly.
  4. Hypoallergenic jewelry looks classy – Premium quality metals make jewelry elegant. This is the case with hypoallergenic jewelry which looks very stylish and classy. They also don’t fade or tarnish quickly. 

Cons of Hypoallergenic Jewelry

While hypoallergenic jewelry comes with many benefits, they also have their downsides. Check out the disadvantages of hypoallergenic jewelry:

  1. It’s hard to authenticate hypoallergenic jewelry – Most jewelry that’s labeled as ‘hypoallergenic’ may still cause allergic reactions since hypoallergenic does not always mean nickel-free. Most hypoallergenic jewelry can still contain trace amounts of nickel which can be a problem for people who are especially sensitive to nickel.
  2. It’s expensive – Hypoallergenic jewelry is quite expensive so you’ll find yourself spending more money than you might like on it.
  3. They’re hard to find – It can be quite hard to find quality hypoallergenic jewelry since most stores sell fakes or coated pieces. The coated pieces are a time bomb since they’re made of metals such as copper and then coated with gold or silver. Once the coating wears off, your skin becomes exposed to the poor quality metal underneath. This may result in an allergic reaction. 

Tips to Consider When Buying Hypoallergenic Jewelry

Buying hypoallergenic jewelry is a worthwhile investment for someone with sensitive skin problems. Before you go shopping for your own hypoallergenic jewelry, there are several factors to take into consideration.  

Try to choose jewelry made from non-metal materials.

If your skin is super sensitive, avoid exposing it to metal at all. This is the safest way you can eliminate all chances of having an allergic reaction to the jewelry. Opt for jewelry made from wood, glass, stone or bone since these are safe and can look just as good as metal jewelry.

Stay away from nickel and other allergens.

As we’ve mentioned above, nickel is the main cause of allergic reactions in jewelry. Your skin may be okay with other metals but could be extra sensitive to nickel. When buying jewelry, choose safe metals such as platinum and palladium since these don’t contain any nickel.  

To make an alloy, platinum is usually paired with iridium, a metal that’s gentle on the skin.  Although sterling silver is generally skin-safe, it may contain traces of copper, which is also an allergen. If your skin is too sensitive, avoid sterling silver as it contains about 7.5% of copper. 

Expensive doesn’t always mean quality.

Although hypoallergenic jewelry is a bit pricey, it doesn’t mean that every expensive you buy is made of high quality material. Before choosing your piece of jewelry, make sure to ask any questions you may have from the jeweler about the piece. You should inform the jeweler of any allergies you may have to certain metals and they should inform you about the quality and the material of the piece you’re trying to buy.  

Sellers tend to label their jewelry as ‘hypoallergenic’ to make a sale, so it’s important to shop at a reputable, trustworthy jewelry shops to avoid getting ripped off.

Wrapping Up

Hypoallergenic jewelry is the best way for you to enjoy beautiful jewelry without suffering from allergic reactions but make sure to shop wisely. It’s not a pleasant to spend a lot of money on something that looks good but will give you allergies in the long run. Remember to do some background research and ask for referrals before purchasing any hypoallergenic jewelry.

If you found this article interesting, you might also like non-conductive metals.