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augustlan's avatar

What jewelry is 'safe' to wear if you have severe metal sensitivity/allergy?

Asked by augustlan (47711points) June 15th, 2012

Pretty much all metal except high karat yellow gold eats my skin, including white gold, rose gold, surgical steel, so-called hypoallergenic stuff, and whatever the buttons on jeans and the backs of watches are made out of, . I can’t even wear silver earrings for an hour without my ears bleeding. Problem is, I’m much more of a silver girl, and don’t like very much gold jewelry. I haven’t tried platinum, titanium or palladium… are any of those good options for me?

Specifically, I’m looking to replace my silver wedding ring (which I haven’t worn in years due to this issue). It’s not a very traditional ring, and I prefer something with a hand-made feel. Ideally it would be some kind of ‘white’ metal, but I am willing to consider non-metal alternatives, too. Do you have any suggestions?

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11 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

The three you mention came to my mind too. I don’t know if they are pure or an alloy? Possibly what is mixed with gold is what you are allergic to? I was thinking that might cause the multiple allergies? That the same hard metals are used to mix with various metals we use for jewelry and so you have all this difficulty. But, silver is probably pure I guess? I know very little about jewelry. I do know white gold generally is only 14k, probably rose gold also. Can you wear 14k yellow gold?

Another thought, I had a ring make out of nickel a while back. I assume it was 100% nickel? That looks like silver. I think nickel is not very difficult to work with if I remember correctly.

Which leads me to wonder, does money cause you irritation? Maybe if you know the alloy for dimes or nickles are ok, you can melt that down? Sometimes it is hard to tell, because ears can be much more sensitive that our hands.

Edit: I was just looking at this wikipedia about Nickel and it says it was taken out of coins because it is a skin allergen for many people. That is very interesting I thought.

2davidc8's avatar

Several women in my family are allergic to nickel.

However, titanium is said to be non-allergenic. For members of my family, we have found this to be true.

JLeslie's avatar

@2davidc8 Is nickel used in gold alloy?

marinelife's avatar

My husband has the same allergy. Belt buckles, watch bands are all terrible on his skin. The only thing we have found that works in 22 or better kt gold. Let me know what you find out the others you mention.

Judi's avatar

I would go to your towns highest end jeweler and ask them. (they don’t know if you can afford their products.)
I have a jeweler who I am sure would know. I would ask him but it costs me to much money every time I walk in the door.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@JLeslie To answer for @2davidc8. Yes, the nickel is added to strengthen the alloys. The three other untried metals that Auggie mentions are good choices for a person with issues in metal jewelry.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, I just realized, stainless steel maybe? Does flatware bother you? Stainless steel watches? I know you said surgical steele is a problem. I don’t know the difference. I have a stainless steel ring from Charlotte. a German jewelry house, only a couple locations in America I think. We have one here in Memphis. My ring I can change the center at whim. Diamond, sapphire, whatever you prefer that day. It’s pretty cool, kind of artsy looking. I get compliments al the time, my husband has a matching one. I wear it as my wedding band. Or, maybe you want something unique?

thorninmud's avatar

Sounds like nickel is your nemesis, and maybe copper as well. Nickel the most common metallic allergen, and gets used in a whole bunch of alloys. That’s the problem you have with the backs of jean buttons and watches. Most stainless steels have it, including surgical stainless. Nickel would be the problem with many white gold alloys. Dermatitis from copper is pretty rare, but that would account for your problems with rose gold, sterling, and lower-carat golds.

Palladium and platinum very occasionally cause reactions as well. Palladium is sometimes used in place of nickel to make white gold, but that wouldn’t be a sure bet in your case. Tungsten is usually alloyed with a tiny percentage of nickel, and most people don’t react to it, but I’m guessing you might.

With your record, I’d stick with titanium.

augustlan's avatar

@thorninmud I’ll look into the titanium.

Thanks everyone!

2davidc8's avatar

@JLeslie Sorry, I don’t know about nickel added to gold.
@Tropical_Willie Thanks for helping me with your answer!

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