About Gold Metal Allergies

When you want to wear jewelry, finding that you have a metal allergy can be truly frustrating. When my eight-year-old daughter, Katie, decided to get her ears pierced, she was so excited. Since I am allergic to nickel, we chose earrings labeled hypoallergenic “nickel free” to reduce the risk of allergic reaction.

She didn’t even flinch when the earrings went in, and she had a blast picking out fancy earrings. Much to our dismay, a few days later her ears were more irritated than they should have been, and after a few weeks it was apparent that her ears were not healing. When we removed the studs to let her ears heal, we found that the earring backs had actually eaten away layers of her skin. It was awful.

In researching, I was chagrined to find that when it comes to mass manufactured “hypoallergenic” earrings labeled “surgical steel” or “nickel free” in most cases only the post that goes through the ear is hypoallergenic. They can be labeled hypoallergenic earrings when in fact the backs and fronts that lay against the skin are base metal and not at all “nickel free”. As a jeweler, I am extremely conscientious about being sure that my earrings are safe to wear for the vast majority of people.

What is Metal Allergy?
Gold Metal Allergy SymptomsMetal allergy is a common occurrence, especially in people who wear pierced earrings. Symptoms of metal allergy, if you are indeed allergic, such as redness, itchiness, and localized swelling usually appear within 6 to 24 hours after close contact with certain metals.

Allergies that occur when wearing jewelry are most often a contact dermatitis called “nickel allergy”. It can happen at any age and people react differently to nickel depending upon their nickel sensitivity. It is estimated that 10% to 20% of the population is allergic to some degree to nickel.

What Casues Nickel Allergy?
Jewelry nickel allergies are caused by trace amounts of the nickel in jewelry dissolving in moisture to form salts. Bathing, washing your hands, or sweating while wearing jewelry containing nickel, can transfer the nickel salts to your skin causing irritation if you do indeed have a have nickel allergy.

Another common problem for jewelry wearers, and one for which many people mistake metal allergies is red and itchy skin due to detergent or other chemical residue becoming trapped between jewelry and the skin. The problem might be solved with rinsing, but it is smart to remove your jewelry before using chemicals and cleaners.

What About Gold and Silver?
It is rare in the extreme to have an allergy to gold or silver. However, pure gold and silver metal are too soft to be useful on their own. Jewelers mix small amounts of zinc, copper, and or nickel into the pure gold and silver to form alloys such as 14 Karat gold and sterling silver in order to make metal hard enough to retain its shape and be durable.

Which metals make the best hypoallergenic earrings?
For people with a metal allergy, it is possible to wear jewelry, you just have to be aware of the severity of you allergy and what metals work for you.

The vast majority of people can safely wear:

  • 24 karat gold
  • 18 karat gold
  • 14 karat gold
  • 14 karat gold fill
  • Sterling silver
  • Fine silver
  • Niobium
  • Titanium
  • Aluminum

Some people are just extremely sensitive when it comes to metals. If you find that you are unable to wearGold and Silver Jewelry sterling silver, which can contain a very small amount of nickel, try going to fine silver or 14 karat gold. If those still bother you, try gold only and up the karat amount to 18 karat gold. Pure gold is 24 karats and is very soft so it will be rare to find 24k gold jewelry, as well as pricey.

If you find you cannot wear gold or silver alloys and still want to wear jewelry, consider trying niobium, titanium, aluminum, platinum or palladium. Allergies with these metals are very rare, however a small percentage of people do have a titanium allergy, which is altogether different from nickel allergy.

If you want to know more about nickel allergies please check out the post below from webmd:


Gold Jewelry Explained

Whether you are shopping for gold wedding jewelry or that special gold piece for everyday wear, I hope this little synopsis will be of help in making the best gold buying decisions for you.

All kinds of Silver Jewelry

There are a multitude of processes for using metals in jewelry. It is no wonder that the average person may not understand the difference between types of gold. Unless you are a real jewelry aficionado or a student of jewelry design you may be somewhat in the dark. When shopping the jewelry scene you will see a spectrum of products that include genuine gold. If you are buying, it is good to have a basic idea of how much actual gold is used in a piece and how it is applied so you can better estimate its intrinsic value and wearability. Here is a quick layman’s guide to gold in jewelry.

Gold in Karats

Pure gold is very soft. It easy to bend, dent, or convolute. Because of its softness we often add a stronger metal to gold to make it more practical for use. Gold is measured in karats, and is always measured on a scale of 24. A piece of 24 karat gold is pure–it contains no other metal. The advantage of this is in its value (presently at over $1100 an ounce) and pure yellow gold color. The drawback, as stated previously is that is has little strength and must be treated with kidd gloves.

When gold is blended with other metals such as silver, copper, and nickel, we get gold alloys. 18K gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal. 14K gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. 10K gold contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals. In the United States an alloy must be at minimum 10karat, or 10 parts gold, in order to be considered genuine gold. The advantage of a gold alloy is in its durability. Generally the higher the alloy content, the stronger it is likely to be. The drawback is that it has less intrinsic value and the color is less pure.

Gold Filled

Next is “gold filled” or sometimes referred to as “Rolled Gold”. This should not be confused with gold plating (though that is often the case), which will be explained later in this article. The name Gold filled is actually quite misleading. It sounds and though another metal is “filled in” with gold. Actually it is just the reverse. A core of semi precious metal – often brass or silver, is permanently bonded with extreme heat and pressure to create a thick outer layer of gold. Any karat value of gold can be used and the piece. The advantages of gold filled jewelry are that you get a look identical to solid gold that cannot flake off, added strength and durability, and it can be purchased at a fraction of the price. By law the layer of karated gold has to be at least 1/20 of the total weight of the metal portion of the piece of jewelry, whereas there is no legal requirement for gold plating. There is an average of 100 times more gold in gold fill than in gold plating. Gold fill is an excellent choice ofr gold wedding jewelry.

For more information go and check out http://www.goldprospectors.org/ or the World Gold Council

Gold Plating

Gold PlatingGold plating, sometimes called gold dipped, is a method of depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another metal, most often copper or silver, by using chemicals or chemicals and electricity. The advantage of gold plating is that you can get a gold look very inexpensively. The drawbacks are that is has minimal durability.The base metal can in time (months to years) begin to diffuse into the gold layer, causing slow gradual fading of its color and eventually causing tarnishing of the surface. If your gold wedding jewelry will be used specifically for the big day or for special occasion use, plating is usually fine, however it is not recommened for everyday wear jewelry.

Gold Leaf

Gold leaf is an alloy of 22 carats gold and 2 carats silver, beaten by machine to a thinness of 1/8000 mm to 1/10,000 of an inch to create super thin sheets of real gold foil. This foil can be applied to jewelry with the use of friction and an agent called gold size that acts as a sort of glue. The advantage of gold leaf is the genuine luster of real gold. The drawback of gold leaf is that it has little intrinsic value in comparison with its more substantial gold cousins, and it can easily flake off.