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:
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 Jewelrymakingjournal.com. They recently published a great post which outlined a few metals I had not thought of before.
You can find the full article here:
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 Jewelrymakingjournal.com for publishing this helpful information!
Thanks for stopping by!