Friday, June 11, 2010
Handmade jewellery makers now use a wide variety of metals in creating their pieces. While they may look beautiful, if you suffer with a metal allergy chances are you will never be able to wear most of them.
Nickel is the number one culprit for metal allergies, nickel is used in a lot of metal alloys as it is very strong and ductile. All other metals in their pure form are virtually allergy free.
In some cases people can be allergic to the pure metals but this is extremely rare.
Yellow gold above 14 karat is virtually allergy free and is ok for most allergy sufferers. Having an allergic reaction to 14 karat gold and above is extremely rare.
9 karat gold will contain nickel and can cause a reaction depending on your sensitivity. Most allergy sufferers can wear 9 karat gold with out having a reaction. White gold also contains nickel and will cause a reaction if you have an extremely sensitive allergy. Approximately 9 out 10 nickel allergy sufferers will have a reaction with white metal.
Gold plated metals are typically copper or silver mixed with nickel and coated with a thin layer of gold. Allergic reactions will depend on the technique of plating and your allergy sensitivity, gold filled jewellery will give better protection from the Nickel as the gold layer is 50 - 100 times thicker than standard gold plate.
Sterling silver 925 is one of the most common metals used in handmade jewellery. It is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, the most common being copper, tin, zinc and sometimes nickel.
If you find you are allergic to 925 silver this is more than likely to be the nickel mixed into the silver to give it it's strength. Not all 925 silver contains nickel, if you are in doubt ask the seller before you buy, if they are unsure or do not answer your query then buy elsewhere.
If you find your skin turns black with 925 silver, don't worry as this is not an allergy, it is the tarnish on the silver that passes to your skin. If you keep your silver jewellery clean and free from tarnish you will not get this.
Fine silver is allergy free but at 99% silver it's far too soft to used in jewellery making. It is extremely unlikely that any handmade sterling silver items contain 99% fine silver.
Silver plate is similar to gold plate, a base metal of either copper, tin, zinc or nickel and is best to be avoided by allergy sufferers.
Tibetan silver is not silver and is similar to pewter, it typically contains a mix of copper, zinc, nickel and tin and is best to be avoided.
Bali silver is sterling silver made on the island of Bali, it contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Real Bali silver contains no nickel but there are a lot of fakes on the internet, anything calling itself Bali style will be fake. If your unsure then ask questions.
Thai Hill Tribe Silver is made completely by hand by the Karen Hill Tribe in Thailand. It is 95-99% pure silver and is one of the safest silvers for allergy sufferers.
Copper - Jewellery made with pure copper is considered safe for people with allergies, copper only contains nickel when it's used as an alloy with other metals, mainly in gold and silver plate. Copper is known for turning skin green, this is not an allergy, it is the chemicals in the copper reacting with the acidity in our skin. Coating the copper in clear nail varnish will stop your skin reacting and turning green.
Platinum - Platinum jewellery is considered safe for allergy sufferers as it contains 95% platinum and 5% iridium. Both of these are allergy free. Platinum can be expensive, stainless steel or titanium may be a better choice for your purse.
Stainless steel - Surgical grade stainless steel does contain very small amounts of nickel but it is so tightly bound into the steel that it will never come into contact with the skin. This makes it ideal for allergy sufferers as it's virtually allergy free, if you have a severe allergy you may find you are allergic to stainless steel but this is very rare. Cheaper than titanium, it wont rust or tarnish, this makes it an excellent alternative to silver jewellery. Stainless steel is commonly used in body jewellery and surgical and dental instruments.
When buying stainless steel jewellery always make sure it is grade 316L as this is the purest form for jewellery, anything less could cause a reaction.
Titanium - Titanium jewelry is both hypoallergenic and durable, contains no nickel and is allergy free. Titanium will not rust or tarnish but it is expensive, if you don't want to pay too much for your jewellery then stainless steel is a better option. Titanium is an excellent choice for those who find they have a reaction to stainless steel.
Bronze - Bronze is a metal alloy of copper and tin. Most allergy sufferers can wear bronze as it contains no nickel. Bronze may turn skin green as copper does as it contains copper, this can be stopped by coating the bronze in clear nail varnish.
Brass - Brass is an alloy consisting of copper and zinc, it contains no nickel. As it contains copper it can turn your skin green, as with bronze coating the brass in clear nail varnish will stop this. Cheap to buy too so it's an excellent alternative to gold jewellery.
Skin allergies are very unpleasant and can be extremely painful for the sufferer. Different people will have different levels of sensitivity. If you have doubts about the piece of jewellery you have your eye on then please do ask the seller questions. A good honest seller will not mind, in fact we would prefer to be asked and have very happy repeat customers than to sell an item that causes the wearer pain and discomfort. If you find a seller is not answering you or being very vague with their answers then it would be wise to move on and avoid buying anything from them.
At deelights-jewellery we like to give you the choice. We offer our pieces where possible in either sterling silver 925, silver plate or stainless steel. This is so that anyone can wear our jewellery.