How to Shop For Jewelry When You Have a Metal Allergy

How to Shop For Jewelry When You Have a Metal Allergy

The materials used in jewelry making have changed quite a bit over the years. To make jewelry more affordable and accessible, precious metals are being combined with cheaper metals and alloys. In some cases this practice makes the jewelry sturdier, but it can cause contact dermatitis in many people. This irritating condition often makes people avoid the jewelry counters, but there are things to be aware of that can make jewelry buying fun again.

Beware Of Nickel

Nickel and alloys containing nickel are the main culprits in metal allergies. Nickel is found in most costume and less expensive jewelry as it has a high polish and is very durable. It is also easy and cheap to produce. So, when buying jewelry, ask questions to find out if there is nickel in the jewelry. With earring wires and backings, make sure it says “surgical stainless steel” somewhere with the jewelry.

Watch Out For Copper

Copper is another allergen found in some metal alloys that often causes contact dermatitis. Especially when buying sterling silver, look for Argentium Sterling Silver, which is a hypoallergenic alternative to copper. Most sterling is 92.5% silver and the rest is metal alloys. Don’t hesitate to ask if you are not sure that copper alloy is not in your silver.


For people with metal allergies, it’s important to buy gold that is higher than 14 karats. Stay away from colored gold, which can contain copper and other metal alloys. If you are looking for white gold, a less expensive and hypoallergenic substitute is Palladium which resembles platinum in its color and shine. Its alloys often replace nickel and rhodium in white gold.


Platinum is a naturally hypoallergenic metal that is prized for its silvery-white sheen. It contains less than 10% alloy metals. Niobium is another completely hypoallergenic metal that, after going through electrical processing, can be found in wonderfully vibrant colors and patterns.
Don’t be shy about asking questions. Many people have contact dermatitis, and the jewelry industry has been working to address the problem for years. Jewelers are keenly aware of this and should know their metals. When in doubt, do some research into companies that make jewelry. This will give you a better idea of what metals they use in their products.

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