One of the questions we get asked the most is:
- are your earrings hypoallergenic?
-what exactly is hypoallergenic jewellery?
A lot of people who want to purchase earrings may not be able to wear every pair out there due to having sensitive or irritable skin. Sterling silver jewellery is widely considered hypoallergenic, however, certain metals just don’t mesh well when they come into contact with the skin. It’s an unpleasant truth to deal with if your skin does tend to be on the more sensitive side.
Sensitivity to certain types of metals is a common problem that many people experience when wearing jewellery. It can manifest as redness, rashes, itchiness, oozing and more. Because of this, many jewellers use hypoallergenic metals.
what are hypoallergenic earrings?
If an earring is hypoallergenic, this means that the earring is at minimal risk to cause infection to the pierced skin. The majority of earrings that are hypoallergenic are made using pure metals, which include gold, sterling silver, and nickel compliant/surgical stainless steel.
If an earring is not hypoallergenic, then there is a chance that you may develop an allergic reaction to the earring. Most people who have reactions are allergic to nickel, which can be used to make cheaper and low-quality earrings. Some people may not know they have the allergy until they get a piercing. So ensuring you are buying 100% hypoallergenic jewellery, preferably sterling silver earrings or 18kt gold and higher, should diminish any pre worries.
The term " hypoallergenic jewellery" means the material used is less likely to cause such a skin reaction than one not labelled hypoallergenic. However, there is no standard a manufacturer has to meet to use this label. So don't assume a product labelled hypoallergenic is allergy-free.
The Problem with Hypoallergenic Jewellery
Hypoallergenic jewellery is a term that’s gained popularity in jewellery metals as being safe to wear. They’re made of metals that don’t cause allergic reactions and most importantly, they don’t contain nickel, the common culprit for metal allergies.
Nickel is a white metal that’s commonly used in alloys to add strength and colour to metals. A large number of people (about 15%) are allergic to nickel, so metals marked hypoallergenic are considered to be devoid of nickel and safe to wear. Because of this, many people use the words hypoallergenic and nickel-free interchangeably.
Now there’s a caveat to this.
Most metals described as hypoallergenic contain trace amounts of nickel. Hypoallergenic jewellery simply means that the amount of nickel is below normal or slightly allergenic and can’t cause problems. It’s so minuscule that it requires highly sensitive instruments just to measure it.
Hypoallergenic does not mean nickel-free. It’s a word that has no medical definition or any sort of testing to back it up. In other words, anyone can slap on the term hypoallergenic and there would be no way to regulate the quality of the metal.
Just think of it as meaning – a very low chance of getting an allergic reaction.
In general, the higher the purity of the metal, the less likely it is to cause issues. Some people are allergic to 14K gold (58.3% gold) but have no issues with 18K gold (75% gold). So you get the idea.
What are the Signs of a Jewellery Allergy?
Allergies can cause a range of symptoms, including:
If you experience any of these symptoms after wearing a piece of jewellery, it is a sign that you are allergic to the metals used in the worn piece. Nickel is a common allergen found in many jewellery components. If you have an allergy to nickel, you may react to gold, silver, etc., because they contain nickel.
If you have an allergy, avoid wearing pieces that contain the offending material. If you must wear them, coat the inside of pieces with clear nail polish or another barrier. You can also ask your jeweller to coat the metal with a special lacquer designed to block allergens.
So, I can develop a skin allergy?
What if you haven’t noticed a skin allergy in the past, and don’t seem to have sensitive skin – can you still develop an allergy? Because nickel is so prevalent in many common items (zippers, faucets, belt buckles, eyeglass hardware), many people do and will develop an allergy to this and other metallic alloys.
First – if earrings make your earlobes itch or feel super sensitive, or give your skin a rash, chances are you have a nickel allergy. It is one of the most common skin allergies. As nickel is used in almost every product humans come in contact with that including metal (coins, keys and more), our skin can develop an allergy from over-exposure over time.
Therefore, when selecting earrings, it is always better to select hypoallergenic earrings for sensitive ears.
At Galleria Armadoro, we actively pursue this level of quality product development and care, and this extends to our commitment to providing sterling silver hypoallergenic earrings.
What makes jewellery hypoallergenic, and what are the best earrings for sensitive ears?
Jewellery that is nickel-free is considered hypoallergenic, and safe for people with sensitive skin to wear.
If you know that you have a sensitivity to metals and have had difficulty wearing earrings in the past that is not hypoallergenic or precious metal, make sure that you wear safe metals. Sterling silver jewellery and 18k or higher gold are good options. Find out if the final product is tested to confirm that the casting process did not allow traces of nickel. Yellow and rose gold are preferable as often white gold contains nickel. Anything lower than 14k gold usually contains nickel and other allergenic alloys. We use 18k gold at Galleria Armadoro as it is particularly beautiful, hypoallergenic and resistant to rusting. Other safe metal options can include sterling silver, platinum, palladium, titanium, tungsten, and even ceramic or copper. Gold vermeil, our most popular jewellery section, is safe for sensitive ears as both the sterling silver base and the 18k gold finish are hypoallergenic and nickel-free.
How can you choose nickel-free, earrings for sensitive ears?
First, make sure that your jewellery is made of sterling silver or 18k or higher quality gold and that it has been tested for nickel at various stages of production and as a finished product. All Galleria Armadoro earrings have been tested for nickel and other allergy-inducing metal alloys. All Galleria Armadoro earrings are sterling silver and hypoallergenic as they are made of nickel-free, pure metals. The Galleria Armadoro team believe that everyone deserves the best and that you should not suffer from painful irritation, so we always invest the time and money into higher quality, pure metals and product testing to confirm that all of our earrings are sterling silver and nickel-free.
We always use high-quality metals to ensure that we are creating the best possible earrings for potentially sensitive ears.
What to Avoid
- White Gold – Yes, white gold is a type of gold but it generally contains nickel which is added to enhance whiteness and durability. The rhodium plating can keep the nickel from getting in contact with your skin but when that wears away, you’re likely to have issues.
- German Silver – This isn’t silver at all. It’s just a nickel alloy with a fancy name. German silver, sometimes called nickel silver, is so-called because it looks like silver, not because it contains any silver at all. So avoid this at all costs if you’re sensitive to nickel.
- Costume Jewellery – Inexpensive jewellery frequently uses base metals coated in either gold or silver. Most of these base metals have nickel, which is used as a filler. When the metal comes into contact with your skin, it can cause irritations.
Is Sterling Silver Jewellery Hypoallergenic?
We’re often asked this question and the answer is – it depends.
Some people experience allergic reactions to sterling silver, but this is very rare. The alloy typically contains pure silver (92.5%) and copper (7.5%) or other metals like zinc.
Pure sterling silver jewellery is anti-allergenic.
Because pure silver is too soft, it is combined with other alloys to make it easier to work with and improve durability. Sterling silver is 92.5 per cent silver, as shown by the 925 mark, combined with additional metals such as zinc, which might cause allergic reactions in some people with sensitive skin.
The silver's alloys may react, giving it a peculiar green/black hue. Severe reactions can lead to inflammation and dryness, resulting in blisters.
Silver tarnishes due to alloys reacting with the air and other elements. It's possible that the tarnishing will even rub off, creating black marks.
Keep silver clean and polished to prevent tarnishing, and you shouldn't have any problems.
All Galleria Armadoro earrings are cast from 925 sterling silver, plated in a thick layer of 18ct gold or white rhodium. That ensures that they are hypoallergenic, lead, cadmium and nickel-free and will not cause any allergic reaction even to the most sensitive ears.
What is Cadmium Free or Lead-Free Jewellery?
Cadmium is a soft, bluish-white material usually found in the earth's crust as a mineral combined with other elements, like oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur. Cadmium is a common top layer in plating. Cadmium makes the piece shiny and adds weight to it. However, cadmium is also toxic and a suspected carcinogen. Likewise, lead makes pieces heavier and brightens colours. Lead is harmful, which doesn't break down in the environment and accumulates in our bodies. High levels of lead are commonly in inexpensive jewellery pieces.
So, avoid these problematic metals when shopping for jewellery.
Is 18ct Gold Plated Hypoallergenic?
No, it is not. 18ct gold is an alloy made of gold and additional metals such as nickel, zinc, etc. When these alloys come into contact with sensitive skin, they can cause an adverse response in people with hypersensitive ears.
Because it is not an alloy, only 24k gold is truly anti-allergenic. Due to its exceptional softness, pure gold is not acceptable for jewellery use. Higher karat golds, such as 22k and 18k gold, are thought to be safer than 10k or 14k gold since they contain a lower amount of mixed metals.
Replating usually takes 1-2 days to complete and is forever free for all Galleria Armadoro pieces.
Do Gold Plated Earrings Contain Nickel?
"Gold plated" means an earring has a thin layer of gold coating an inferior, cheaper metal. It is not solid gold, and the thin gold coating will wear away over time. Often the metal revealed is nickel and this is a common allergen. The label "hypoallergenic jewellery" usually means there is no nickel on the outer surface of an earring’s post. However, many posts are made of coated nickel. As the outer surface of the post rubs, it wears away and the exposed nickel will come into contact with your earlobe and cartilage causing an allergic reaction.
Is Rhodium Plated Silver Hypoallergenic?
Rhodium is a great anti-allergenic plating material. Rhodium plating is non-reactive, forming a barrier between the nickel alloyed white gold and the epidermis. Over time, this plate fades away, no longer shielding the alloy and possibly nickel from creating allergy symptoms. This can cause allergy symptoms in sensitive people if not dealt with promptly.
If this happens to your white gold, the colour will alter to a yellowish tint. You can remedy it by visiting a jeweller and having a new layer of rhodium plating applied. This is usually a low-cost and speedy process.
Replating usually takes 1-2 days to complete and is forever free for all Galleria Armadoro pieces.
Is Brass Hypoallergenic?
No, brass is not allergy-free. Instead, it is a mixture of copper and zinc. The alloys will cause allergy symptoms and turn the epidermis green if not correctly plated. Unfortunately, as this plating fades, an allergic response can occur.
This means you should replate brass to avoid irritation. If it's not replated, you may experience symptoms over time as the alloys react with acidic elements in your body, such as sweat.
So next time you’re shopping, and you see the label “hypoallergenic jewellery” on the jewellery, ask what makes the metal hypoallergenic and if it’s really safe to wear.
If it’s costume jewellery, chances are, it simply refers to a plating of some sort that will wear away and leave you exposed to potentially nasty metals underneath.
All Galleria Armadoro earrings are made of 925 sterling silver, plated in a thick layer of either 18ct gold or white rhodium. We offer 100% hypoallergenic jewellery, lead, cadmium & nickel free, perfect for even the most sensitive ears.
Even though plating will last for a very long time, touch-ups, repairs and replating are forever free.