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11 Hypoallergenic Metals for Jewelry

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Jewelry increases the joy of life.

Be it, a white gold necklace with rubies, a diamond ring or a pair of emerald earrings: it is always bliss.

However, sometimes it may cause allergic reactions like itching and irritation to sensitive skin.

These are the results of metal allergy or hypersensitivity.

Happily, there are hypoallergenic materials, which are considered safe.

It is possible to prevent skin allergies by avoiding alloys containing allergenic metals.

You can go one step ahead and choose pure hypoallergenic metals instead of alloys for peace of mind.

Below, you will find 11 hypoallergenic options for your next jewelry piece.

 

What is hypoallergenic jewelry?

Hypoallergenic is a term used in cosmetics and jewelry.

It means the materials used in production are less likely to cause any allergic reaction.

Nevertheless, this is not a guarantee: zero allergic effects cannot be guaranteed.

Especially in skin care, such a claim cannot be made.

In jewelry, as the items are worn for many hours, with exposition to deodorants, perfumes, heat, humidity and other substances, irritation may occur.

Thus, jewelry designers opt for hypoallergenic metals to reduce undesired reactions.

What is a metal allergy?

These are inflammations that often arise from using pieces made from allergenic metals.

The main symptoms include; rashes, blistering on the skin, joint pain, muscle pain, reddening of skin, and swelling.

A recent study reveals that metal hypersensitivity is a common health condition that affects about 10 to 15% of the world.

The estimation shows that close to 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel.

Also, about 1% to 3% of people are affected by cobalt and chromium.

This should especially receive more consideration for sensitive ears and piercings.

Thus, it is imperative that you choose hypoallergenic pieces, to stay safe from allergies.
Nickel: the first culprit

As we said above, about 10% of the world population has nickel allergy.

Even though you do not use a nickel piece, the alloy may include trace amounts coming from other metals.

For example, sterling silver is 92.5% silver and the remaining part comes from cheaper metals like copper.

Although there is no intention of including nickel, it may end up in your jewelry via copper.

On the other hand, if there is nickel in the alloy, and it is trapped in the core without reaching the surface, it can’t enter into contact with the skin.

As in some stainless steel alloys, this does not pose a problem.

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Best 11 hypoallergenic metals for jewelry

1. Gold

Pure gold is a soft, malleable metal used for making jewelry.

It does not rust or corrode.

Gold does not cause a chemical reaction with air, water and human tissue. This makes it an ideal candidate for hypoallergenic jewelry.

It is also known for its resistance to tarnishing, which makes it look shiny all the time.

The purity of gold is measured in karats.

Pure gold is 24 karats or 100% pure.

While this is the ideal hypoallergenic state, it is not practically possible to use 24k solid gold in jewelry because of its softness, with a few exceptions.

Fine gold is too soft for jewelry. In order to make it stronger and more durable, goldsmiths have made alloys with other metals like copper or zinc.

These additions lower gold purity and make the metal harder and more durable -and less hypoallergenic.

The most common yellow gold alloys are 10k, 14k and 18k gold.

Karat Stamp Gold parts Percentage
10 Karat 10K 10 / 24 41.7
14 Karat 14K 14 / 24 58.3
18 Karat 18K 18 / 24 75

 

Different gold alloys have different properties that make them more or less suitable for certain applications.

10k gold has ten parts of pure gold for every fourteen parts of copper. In other words, it is 41.7% pure gold.

This addition makes it harder and cheaper than 18k gold.

The latter has 75% gold in its composition or in other words, 18 in 24 parts gold.

As the addition percentage increases, the risk of hypersensitivity increases.

Thus, you should prefer the highest possible karat value in order to remain safe.

Gold-plated jewelry should be treated differently.

These are more affordable alternatives with gold plating over cheaper inner metals.

One such example is gold-plated brass jewelry. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.

This jewelry is a good deal offering a similar appearance at a much lower price.

However, when the plating wears off, the inner brass will come into contact with your skin.

And this may initiate skin reactions if you have allergy to brass or its components.

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2. Sterling Silver

Silver is a precious metal that does not cause allergic reactions such as skin inflammation and rashes.

Next to its shine, it even has superior antimicrobial properties that contribute to hygiene and healthcare.

Silver is hypoallergenic because it does not contain nickel, copper, or any other metal that can cause allergies.

Yet, pure silver is too soft for jewelry, so jewelry manufacturers use harder alloys for their designs.

Probably, the most popular one is sterling silver, also known as 925 silver.

Sterling silver alloys contain 92.5% silver in their composition.

The remaining 7.5% part comes from cheaper base metals like copper and zinc.

As long as this latter portion does not contain nickel, sterling is considered as hypoallergenic and safe for jewelry.

There are also silver plated jewelry. These pieces have cheaper metals covered with a layer of sterling silver.

While the inner alloy does not see daylight, this is only true as long as the plating does not wear off.

With everyday wear and tear, this silver coating will disappear and the metal underneath it will come into contact with the skin

In this case, if you have any metal allergy to the inner brass or nickel alloy, you may experience unease.

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3. Argentium silver

Argentium is a superior quality alloy compared to sterling.

It is richer in silver: it has at least 93.5% purity.

Argentium does not tarnish thanks to germanium in its composition. Thus, it doesn’t need to be polished as often.

It is nickel-free by nature: hypoallergenic all the way.

It tops regular sterling silver in durability too.

Basically, argentium brings all the benefits of sterling to the table without the cons.

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4. Platinum

Platinum is a hypoallergenic precious metal. This may come obvious as its name is derived from the Spanish word “platino”, which means “little silver”. This naming is well on point as platinum has a natural silvery-white metal color.

Platinum will not cause an allergic reaction just from contact. But if it contains nickel, that can be problematic for some people. Platinum jewelry may have other metals inlaid into it which could cause adverse reactions in some people.

Just check any risky alloys and eliminate them before you buy your platinum earrings!

Check this post for more on platinum rings pros and cons.

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5. Palladium

Palladium is a precious metal named after the asteroid Pallas.

It belongs to the Platinum Group Metals with rhodium, ruthenium, osmium and platinum.

And after this identification, if you’d guess it is hypoallergenic, you were right on the point!

With its lightweight, it is an ideal metal for wedding bands and earrings especially.

Check this post for more on palladium rings pros and cons.

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6. Titanium

Titanium is an inert, non-reactive metal that does not cause allergies or other reactions. This makes it the perfect material for jewelry, surgical instruments, and certain medical devices.

It does not tarnish, like 925 silver. It also does not corrode.

Titanium is an extremely durable metal that has long been used in medical devices due to its biocompatibility.

Check this post for more on titanium rings pros and cons.

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7. Stainless steel

Stainless steel is an iron alloy with carbon and up to 30% chromium.

There are many different quality steel versions used in various sectors.

These range from construction to biomedical, from machinery to jewelry. These alloys may include metals such as molybdenum, titanium, aluminum, and nickel.

The latter is the main one we should avoid for skin allergy.

The safe, hypoallergenic alloy is 316L type steel. This is surgical grade stainless steel alloy. It is an affordable option, considered safe for jewelry.

Check this post for more on stainless steel jewelry pros and cons.

niobium in raw form

8. Niobium

Niobium is another hypoallergenic metal safe for rings and earrings.

It looks similar to steel in its unpolished natural form.

It has high corrosion resistance. It does not tarnish or rust.

Make sure any niobium alloy is free of lead and nickel content to consider it safe.

It can have a colorful appearance via anodizing just like aluminum or titanium.

Anodizing is not paint. It is controlled oxidation in an electrolyte bath, while passing an electric current attracting ions present in the liquid.

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9. Aluminum

Aluminum is a good choice for jewelry because of its lightweight, affordable and, of course, hypoallergenic property.

It is free of lead and nickel.

It also offers a variety of colors, not only the natural aluminum gray.

So, if you’re looking to avoid skin irritation and other allergic reactions, aluminum earrings and necklaces are good options.

Check this post for more on aluminum jewelry pros and cons.

10. Tungsten carbide

Tungsten is a highly inert and durable metal.

These make it an ideal hypoallergenic option for jewelry.

Its hardness gets a 9 on the Mohs scale. It is even used to increase strength and hardness in some steel alloys.

You’ll hardly come across a harder object. Thus, you can be confident that your tungsten carbide rings will remain scratch free for a long time.

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11. Rhodium

Rhodium is a hypoallergenic metal often used as plating.

It does not tarnish, corrode or rust.

It is widely used to coat silver and mainly white gold pieces.

In the former case, it will prevent interaction with air, humidity and chemicals. Thus, sterling silver will not tarnish.

As it is hard and strong metal, it will protect the core and give a uniform lasting look.

One caveat is its price matches its luster. Rhodium is traded even higher than gold.

So, a rhodium plating means an increase in the price tag.

Conclusion

Your bling should not only look great, it should also feel wonderful when you put it on.

So, when you’re out shopping, check for the content and make sure they are all hypoallergenic.

A simple rule of thumb is to stay away from any amounts of nickel, cobalt and lead.

This is especially true when buying a gift.

You may not know if the recipient is allergic to base metals, cobalt, nickel or other metal, so just exclude those pieces from your options.

By checking the metal composition, you can safeguard yourself and your loved ones from metal hypersensitivities.

Your ideal choice is a pure hypoallergenic metal jewelry without plating.

Check out hypoallergenic jewelry designs on Amazon by clicking here!