Metal allergies are a major issue for many people. Nothing is worse than pulling out a fabulous new piece of jewelry for the first time, then realizing it actually causes a dry, itchy, red skin on contact. The good news? There may be more accessorizing options for you than you think!
The culprit for most people with a metal allergy is the nickel used in the metal alloy (an alloy is just a mix of metals). The nickel can react with your skin, which can cause those annoying symptoms. Not surprisingly, you’ll find this happening in a lot of inexpensive fashion jewelry. I know a ton of women who have to deal with this on a regular basis, and their solution has been to forgo jewelry entirely.
Being a designer and maker of jewelry, not only do I try to be sensitive to individuals that have to deal with this issue, but I wanted to become more knowledgeable and help find some solutions for the problem.
To combat this issue in my jewelry designs, I only use the highest quality metals I can find. Sterling silver, and 10K or 14K gold-filled items are my standards for chains, earrings, and other metal components. These metals all reduce your chances of having an unpleasant reaction. Gold filled is great because you can still have the look and quality of gold with a much smaller price tag.
If you prefer fine jewelry, then you should also try gold of varying purities. It’s worth noting that the most pure variety, 24K , may not be your best bet. This is mainly because the metal will be quite soft and will dent and scratch easily. Instead, try 22K, 20K, 18K or 14K solid gold varieties. You can try white gold as well, but keep in mind they need to include a other metals to give that silvery look, so even 18K white gold can cause a reaction. This happened to me with my first engagement and wedding ring set. It is usually plated with a nonreactive metal like rhodium, but for a daily wear item like a wedding set, you’ll need to replate quite frequently. About once every six months – and this gets super expensive after a while. As much as I hated the idea at first, I ended up replacing mine with an awesome 18K brushed yellow gold band. Besides cleaning regularly, I have no maintenance here. Prefer cooler toned metals in your jewelry? Then I would recommend you consider platinum.
Something else that might work? Stainless steel jewelry. I don’t use this in my jewelry designs, mainly because I prefer the warmer tones of gold, but this could be a good option for you. Due to the chemical make up of this alloy, very few people have reactions to it.
So what can you do in those situations where you have a piece that does give you a reaction? You can experiment a bit. The easiest fix out there coat is a single coat of clear nail polish. This often works in a pinch, and the coating will last for quite some time before it needs to be reapplied. This works like a charm for many people, and it will open up so many possibilities. You should definitely try it to see if it works for you!
Another option? Choose accessories that feature minimal metal, or don’t feature metal at all. For example, instead of a pair of earrings, opt for a cool hair accessory or colorful headband. Some of my favorite pieces right now feature fiber or leather as a main element, as opposed to metals. If you are looking for a more sophisticated feel, try a knotted gemstone necklace or bracelet on silk. Look for a piece with a high quality clasp, or try coating the clasp in nail polish to ensure a barrier between the metal and your skin. The necklaces featured above are unusual because they are open ended and have no clasp. To fasten, they can be tied into a bow, and you can customize the length to your preference.
Got more helpful tips of your own for us? Please share in the comments! I’d love to hear your solutions.