Metal Reactions

I recently read an article about metal reactions and metal allergies. It reminded me of a blog entry I posted about a year ago and I thought since this is a pretty popular issue, I’d readdress it before we get into the craft show season. 

For starters, most of the earrings I create are made with sterling silver. This is not the same as pure silver, which is generally too soft for jewelry. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver with another metal, often copper but sometimes nickel, added to it to make it strong enough for jewelry wear. The rest of my earrings are either silver-plated or surgical steel. 

That said, let’s discuss a little about metal reactions. Nickel seems to be the root of most metal allergies. There are earrings out there which are marked “nickel free”, but keep in mind, the term “nickel free” is not a true term. It is allowed to be placed on items which contain a very small amount of nickel. There is not a standard for this in the U.S. yet. Hypoallergenic is also simply a marketing term with no legal definition. If you are looking for “hypoallergenic” jewelry, check out sterling silver, karat gold, and items marked “nickel-free.”

You can find more details on this in the blog I previously wrote here:

What to do About Metal Allergies

Please check this out if metal allergies are a concern for you. 

Another place I found has some great information about metal allergies is through They recently published a great post which outlined a few metals I had not thought of before. 

You can find the full article here:

Earring Guidelines

This article cleared up my thinking on some metals and gave me a better understanding of others. 

The first metal I misunderstood was surgical steel. After reading this, I feel terrible for associating surgical steel with “hypo-allergenic.” I, like most others, heard “surgical” and thought that was a synonym for “safe.” According to this article, surgical steel can also include nickel and can cause allergic reactions. 

Another metal which is frequently found in earrings is copper. It is not as common for copper to cause a reaction, but it can. Keep an eye out for this because copper is becoming very popular in the hand-crafted jewelry industry. The other thing copper jewelry is known for is a reaction with the skin which turns it green. This is not dangerous, but it is not attractive. 

Two metals which surprised me were aluminum and brass. I had never heard of these being used in jewelry before. The article states that these do not have a very high percentage of allergic reactions, so although they might be hard to find, it might be worth searching for and trying. 

The article finished with some recommendations for people with metal allergies. It listed niobium, titanium, nylon, plastic, and Teflon. I had not heard of any of these being used in jewelry before except for titanium and plastic. Perhaps I do not get out enough, but this leads me to think that these materials might be a little more difficult to come by. I will have to do some more research into them to see how easy they are to find.

The more I hear and read about metal allergies, the more I think I need to have alternatives for these clients. The trouble is metal allergies vary from person to person and some people just know that certain earrings cause their earrings to turn red or break out in a rash, they don’t know what metals are in the earrings. If you suspect you have a metal allergy which is keeping you from wearing beautiful earrings, talk to your doctor about it. If you are able to nail down which metal causes you trouble, then I would love to work with you to get something that doesn’t have that metal in it. Everyone deserves to wear a beautiful piece of jewelry! 

I hope this helped a bit. Don’t forget to go over and read the article I linked to. There is some great information there. A big thank you to for publishing this helpful information!

Thanks for stopping by!



Pretty Little Things

In my last post I mentioned feeling inspired to make a handbag. Well, sometimes one should stick to what one knows best. Handbag-1, Gretchen-0. I had an idea, but it didn’t come together as planned, so I moved on to earrings instead. I ended up with three pairs!


Besides the fact that the bag didn’t come together as expected, I have a home show coming up and I realized I need more jewelry for it. How quickly I turned frustration into motivation. As a side note, stay tuned later in the month for home show coverage.


Back to the earrings…I have been working on a goal of using as many of my existing supplies as possible before purchasing more. These earrings are examples of that. I started by digging through what I had and picking out what I wanted to work with. From there I sketched out ideas and moved into the creation process. These are what I came up with…


Sterling Silver and Sodalite:


Last year I created a pair of earrings with this same wire design. I hung a pearl on each earring and they turned out beautifully. Back in January I started to make another pair, but I never got around to adding the pearl, so this weekend it was time to finish them. I was feeling like using some color, so I opted for the blue sodalite beads instead of the pearls. These beads have swirls of different shades of blue and white through them making them almost look like denim. The combination makes them perfect for your favorite jeans and blouse outfit.


Sterling Silver and Sponge Coral:


I made the circles a few weeks ago with the thought that I would make them first and then add to them. I didn’t like the flat circles so I hammered them into a domed shape. At first I was just going to hang the circles on earwires and call them a simple pair of solid silver earrings, but again I was feeling colorful. Some rummaging through my beads resulted in two coral beads, which added just the kick of color I was looking for. Now I keep finding myself looking at these earrings and not wanting to sell them. I suppose I’ll have to make another pair for myself!


Solid Sterling Rectangles:


This last pair of earrings came from scraps in a way. After I cut out the circles in the other pair of earrings, I was left with a skinny rectangle. I decided to cut it in half, and add beads to it (again with the color kick). After I shaped the rectangles and hung them on the earwires, I liked them so much I decided not to add beads to this pair. The solid silver allows them to be perfect for any occasion.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these pairs of earrings, you can find them in my Etsy shop through this links:

Sterling Silver Sodalite Earrings

Sterling Silver Sponge Coral Earrings

Sterling Silver Rectangle Earrings

Now it’s back to the drawing board to see what else I can come up with. I seem to have more beads than I have metal supplies, so this could get difficult soon, or it could get interesting…


For now, thanks for stopping by!