Jewellers work very hard to create beautiful pieces including bracelets, earrings, necklaces, diamond engagement rings, and wedding bands. So it can be disheartening for us to see a person unable to wear jewellery because of certain allergies. The good news is that a jewellery allergy does not necessarily need to prevent you from wearing your favorite kinds of jewellery. There are ways to work around it.
Dealing with jewellery allergies without sacrificing your love for jewellery starts by understanding what these allergies really are. For example, many people are convinced they are allergic to silver or gold when they probably are not. Silver and gold allergies are extremely rare due to the composition of these metals. When jewellery allergies are present, they are most often related to the alloys added to the silver or gold to make them less expensive and more durable.
See an Allergist
If you suspect you suffer from jewellery allergies, the first thing to do is see an allergist. This kind of doctor is a specialist in allergies; he or she is the most qualified to tell you what it is that actually bothers your skin when wearing jewellery. In all likelihood, your allergies will be related to either nickel or copper.
Nickel is the culprit in most jewellery allergies because it is water-soluble. When exposed to perspiration, it dissolves and forms salts that irritate the skin. People with nickel allergies usually suffer contact dermatitis that begins appearing within a few minutes to a few hours of putting on jewellery. The skin will become red, irritated and swollen; in some cases, mild pain accompanies the irritation. Symptoms subside within a day or so of removing the jewellery.
Most inexpensive and mid-range diamond engagement rings and wedding bands contain some nickel. If you find you are developing contact dermatitis on your ring finger, you might want to see an allergist before assuming gold or silver is the problem. It is probably going to be a problem with nickel.
If it turns out you do have an allergy relating to the common alloys used in jewellery, there are alternatives. Jewellers work with numerous hypoallergenic materials that can still be used to produce beautiful pieces every bit as desirable as the gold and silver you are used to. For the ladies, jewellers work with materials such as:
- Argentium Sterling Silver – Sterling silver jewellery is 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy. If your allergy relates to copper, sterling silver with argentium is a great alternative.
- 18K Gold – 18k Gold will minimize the alloy content to 25%. This may still not work for some people with severe allergies but it’s usually enough for the vast majority of people with skin skin allergies.
- Platinum – Platinum is a naturally hypoallergenic metal with alloys that do not bother most people. It also looks very good when used by a skilled jewellery designer.
- Palladium – Palladium is a platinum family metal which is also hypoallergenic. Palladium is approx. 40% lighter in weight compared to platinum (saving you money) and is more scratch-resistant than platinum making it an excellent choice.
The options for men include tungsten, titanium and ceramic. Tungsten is among the most popular these days because of its bold look and durability. Those who prefer ceramic generally say they like the lighter weight and the fact that colors do not fade as easily.
Jewellery allergies do not have to prevent you from wearing the diamond rings, bracelets and other pieces you enjoy. See your allergist and a reputable jeweller. Between the three of you, you will be able to come up with ways to work around your allergies.