A Guide to Skin Friendly Jewelry – Before You Buy Jewelry

A Guide to Skin Friendly Jewelry and What To Avoid with Sensitive Skin

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to your jewelry? It’s a well-known fact that the metal contained in your jewelry setting causes most jewelry allergies. But not many know what metal(s) their jewelry settings contain, and the results may surprise you!


Knowing the type of metals contained in your jewelry is important to prevent any allergic reactions; and can help you care for your jewelry so it can be enjoyed for a lifetime! If you haven’t experienced an allergy before or if you are unsure if you have, here is a little overview. Guide to Skin Friendly Jewelry


A Guide to Skin Friendly Jewelry

Gem Stone King

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Symptoms of Jewelry Allergic Reactions:

  1. Itching, redness, tenderness, swelling, and warmth to the exposed area.
  2. Blisters and dry patches of skin resembling a burn may also appear where the metal has come into contact with your skin.

According to the National Institutes of Health, allergic symptoms resulting from exposure to metals typically appear 24 to 48 hours after exposure, but could appear as soon as 12 hours after contact.

Here are some tips to help you solve the mystery behind the metal, and discover what metal type disagrees with your skin!

Antiqued Round Floral Locket in Sterling Silver

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Common Metals to Avoid if You Have Sensitive Skin:

Nickel & Stainless Steel

  • Nickel is the number one allergy internationally. The reaction may appear as an itchy, red rash with watery blisters where the jewelry touches your skin.
  • Stainless Steel can sometimes, but not often, trigger a nickel allergy because it contains trace amounts of nickel and iron. If you have hypersensitive skin it might be best to avoid stainless steel as well.

Copper & Rose Gold (Gold & Copper Alloy)

  • It might be an end to a rose gold era for you ladies with a copper allergy. If you are allergic to copper you may also be allergic to metal alloys that include copper, like the ever-so-popular rose gold, which contains a mixture of gold and copper to achieve its pinkish hue.
  • If you’ve had any reaction to copper before, avoid it altogether and see if lower amounts used in alloy metals trigger any effects. On the other hand, if jewelry set in rose gold doesn’t bother you; alloys might be one of the few ways you can enjoy the look of copper jewelry.

Brass (Copper & Zinc Alloy)

  • Brass is often used as a base metal that has been coated with either sterling silver, or gold. If your skin turns green after wearing a necklace or earrings, it most likely includes some amount of brass in its metal composition. Brass is actually an alloy of copper and zinc, so if you’re allergic to brass you are likely allergic to copper as well.

Plated Metals

  • Stick to what’s pure. Even silver plated jewelry can cause allergies. Look for stamps on the jewelry that indicate it is Sterling 925 (meaning it is 92.5% pure).
  • 14k Gold or higher is also your best bet to avoid any issues. Jewelry is often plated with silver or gold over metals like copper and brass in order to keep prices low.
  • Don’t mistake plating as a foolproof barrier to allergies. Be sure to do your research about what the base metal is before purchasing anything that has been plated.

Gold (a variety of colors = a variety of alloys)

  • Many confuse all gold jewelry to be a safe option when trying to avoid jewelry allergies. However, certain types of gold jewelry often contain other metals that can trigger a reaction.
  • White gold is usually alloyed with nickel or other common white metals to give it its whitest hue.
  • Yellow gold is often alloyed with silver or copper in varying amounts, unless your setting is made of solid gold (unlikely).
  • Be sure to check the karat weight to see how much gold is actually in the setting. Karat is a measure of the purity of gold. To avoid any potential allergies, opt for 14k Gold or higher which is purer and less likely to trigger any reaction.
  • Any jewelry set in gold 14k or less means that at least half of the setting consists of other metals or alloys, which could include copper or brass.

Hand-Engraved Heart Locket

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A Guide to Skin Friendly Jewelry

Also, if you have highly sensitive skin make sure to check out the karat weight of any gold jewelry that has been plated with other metals. Plating can wear away over time and allow metal alloys to come in contact with your skin. Just like with other plated metals, what is underneath the surface, counts. Be sure it is a base metal of 14k gold or higher, and if not, be sure to re-plate your jewelry often to maintain that solid buffer between your skin and what is below the base metal.

Types Of Jewelry You Should Avoid If You Have Sensitive Skin 

Finding the perfect piece of jewelry is hard enough, but needing to factor in a jewelry allergy makes it even more difficult. We identified the symptoms associated with common metals that can cause skin irritation. Now we will outline common jewelry metals to avoid if you have sensitive skin and tips to help solve irritating jewelry problems.

Jewelry Materials To Avoid with Sensitive Skin

  1. If you are allergic to nickel, brass, or copper avoid jewelry that is most commonly made with this type of metal, including costume/fashion jewelry.
    • Opt for higher quality fine jewelry instead. Fine jewelry has higher price tags, but it is made to last!
  2. Avoid metal alloys, which contain a mixture of two or more metallic elements, as they may trigger a similar reaction. Metal alloys include stainless steel, rose-gold, and to the surprise of many people – white gold!
  3. Plated jewelry also involves the use of mixed metals, so make sure to check the label thoroughly before purchasing.
  4. Outside of jewelry, there are many other items that contain common allergy-causing metals, including bra-fasteners, zippers, or snaps.
    • It is hard to avoid everyday objects that can trigger allergies, but they also are important clues indicating if you have a metal-specific allergy and what metal it may be that is contributing to it.

Metal Allergy Jewelry Solutions

There are several hypoallergenic metals available that can help resolve the issue of that icky green skin, itchy/irritated skin, or infected piercings caused by jewelry. But before you go out shopping for allergy free jewelry,

here are some other ways to solve your “irritating” jewelry problems:

  1. Those with an allergy to nickel jewelry and other metals can test your favorite pieces by purchasing an at-home nickel spot test kit.
  2. Be especially mindful when purchasing body jewelry, like belly-button rings, eyebrow jewelry, or tongue rings since it comes into contact with your body for longer durations of time. Look for the words “surgical” or “nickel-free” and routinely clean your body jewelry frequently.
  3. Purchase jewelry specifically labeled as hypoallergenic, or try opting for other materials like plastic; 925 sterling silver, platinum, or at least 14k gold.
  4. Try out jewelry made of Palladium Alloys. Palladium is a white metal related to platinum that is hypoallergenic and budget friendly! Palladium often used in white gold jewelry; and is a great option for those allergic to white gold jewelry made with nickel.
  5. Have a jeweler re-plate your fine jewelry if the plating has worn out;; and it has begun to cause an allergic reaction. Some fine jewelry can sometimes contain metal alloys underneath the plating. Re-plating will restore that protective layer of metal between your skin and the base.
  6. If you already know what jewelry pieces have been giving you trouble, try to avoid them. We know it’s hard to let go of our favorite pieces, but do it for your skin ladies! Don’t let him see an infected ear when he leans in for that kiss! Yuck!
  7. If you only have a mild allergy, try wearing your nickel, copper; or brass-based jewelry for a shorter period of time to avoid any effects.
  8. If your reaction is immediate and you can’t seem to wear your jewelry for any length of time; before the allergy kicks in, it is better to just avoid it at all costs. Give it away, or throw it away ladies!

Before You Buy Jewelry

Jewelry is always a girl’s best friend! Before you buy, let us help make choosing the perfect piece for that special occasion easy; from birthday gemstones to “forever” pieces. By checking out our tips and “how-to” before you buy; we will save you the heartache of purchasing fakes and reproductions. We also suggest alternatives pieces to very expensive jewelry; that is just as likely to please without breaking your wallet.

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