Monday, May 21, 2012

Metal Allergies Part I


Copper filled sterling silver ear wires
So many customers come into my booth and tell me they are allergic to various metals. Because of this I have been doing some internet research on metal allergies. While I am by no means an expert, I thought it would be worth sharing with you some of what I have found.

Statistics indicate that metal allergies affect about 12% of the population. A very common metal allergy is to nickel. Many findings (clasps, ear wires, bead caps, etc) used to be made with nickel, but manufacturers are now using brass instead. Brass is a mix of copper and zinc and is a good surface for electroplating. Copper or brass allergies are rare.
Copper Earrings
Nickel-testing kits are available through dermatologists, pharmacists and online and do not require a prescription. Simple to use, you place a drop on a cotton swab and rub the jewelry. If the cotton turns pink, nickel is present. The solution is not harmful to your jewelry. Be aware other items may also cause nickel allergy. They include cell phones, eyeglass frames, coins, zippers, door and cabinet hardware, tools, metal buttons and snaps, and some fabric finishes.

Other jewelry options for those with nickle allergies are niobium, sterling silver, 14kt gold, or plastic ear findings. Be careful of things that say they are “nickel-free” as most of these items will contain a very small amount of nickel! There is not yet a U.S. standard for this.
Niobium ear wires come in bright blue, purple and green. 
You can also try painting the offending part with clear finger nail polish or other coatings sold in jewelry or bead stores for this purpose. They will wear off over time and need to be re-applied.

The next post in this series will be about some of the other metals I use.

Here are links to some of the articles I read in my research: 







If jewelry you’ve been wearing for years suddenly causes a reaction – medicines or hormone changes can alter body chemistry and change the chemistry of your skin oil or perspiration.

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