Many people suffer from allergies, but did you know that jewelry can also cause allergic reactions? We have many customers who come into our store with questions about allergies to earrings—what causes them and what they can do about them. Here are some answers to those questions:
What causes my allergic reaction to jewelry?
Symptoms of an allergy or sensitivity include redness, swelling or soreness. In many cases, nickel is the culprit. Nickel is a common metal used as an alloy in jewelry making. It makes silver and gold stronger so they will hold their shape.
How do I know if a piece of jewelry has nickel in it?
It is more common these days to find jewelry labeled “nickel free”. But what if it isn’t labeled?
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver and other metals, usually copper. To be called sterling, it must contain 92.5% silver. The US does not require silver to be marked as to its quality. However, if a quality mark is used, it must be accompanied by a “hallmark”, which is a registered trademark or name of the manufacturer. Many artisans are not able to have this registered trademark on their pieces, either because it is cost prohibitive or because the size or design of the piece makes it impossible to include a trademark.
So is there anything I can do if I have a nickel allergy?
There are lots of options even if you have a nickel allergy. One option is to purchase your jewelry from a store that has information about all of their products. For example, at Earrings & Company we have relationships with all of our artisans and know which products are made specifically for those with sensitivities and allergies. If you often buy jewelry directly from an artist, at a craft or art fair for example, talk to the artist about your allergy and find out how they make their pieces. Many artisans will also advertise their pieces as Nickel-Free or Hypoallergenic.
Jewelry made of the rare metal niobium is a good choice for those with nickel allergies. Surgical steel may work as well although it does contain trace amounts of nickel and can cause problems for those who are exceptionally sensitive.
Many of our customers have had success using a polish-type product used to coat earring wires for short term wear. We always have this in stock.
Some Products We Carry that are Hypoallergenic:
For those of you with nickel allergies and sensitivities, here is a partial list of lines we carry that are hypoallergenic:
Crown Fine Enamels – post and wire earrings, pins:
Anne Koplik Designs – post and wire earrings, pins, necklaces
TK Connor – niobium wire earrings
Danforth Pewterers – post and wire earrings, pins, necklaces
Silver Forest – wire earrings and necklaces
Q3 Art – post and wire earrings
Simply Whispers – post, wire and clip earrings