Why Am I Itchy When I Wear Silver?

Imagine you put on a brand new piece of jewelry and you're allergic to it.

Silver evil eye bracelet

Your skin gets itchy, turns red, breaks out in a rash, or in extreme cases, starts to blister.

You, my friend, according to the Mayo Clinic, have contact dermatitis.

And guess what? Many substances can cause such reactions, including soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, and plants.

If you're reacting to a piece of jewelry, it's most likely a nickel allergy.

And, unfortunately, nickel can be hiding in plain sight.

Most metals, particularly silver, are too soft on their own to craft jewelry from.  

To make silver stronger and more durable, it's often blended with another metal to create silver.  The formula is usually 92.5% pure silver mixed with 7.5% of another metal.

Good sterling silver is quality stamped with ".925", meaning it contains at least 92.5% pure silver.

 

stamp 925

That's is an incredibly high number, considering that 14k gold is actually only 58.3% pure gold-- I know, right?!

But what about the remaining 7.5%?

What's that made of?

This is where the problem arises.

Quality sterling silver contains 7.5% copper as the alloy metal, which is good because copper is a non-allergenic metal.

Unfortunately, nickel is cheaper than copper; therefore, it's often used to create sterling silver by companies looking to save a nickel (pardon the pun).  So, you can't always be sure that you won't break out until you actually wear the jewelry.  

 

silver bead bracelet

Silver Beaded Bracelets

If that weren't confusing enough, sometimes the phrases "nickel-free" and "hypoallergenic" are used interchangeably, meaning a piece of jewelry labeled hypoallergenic could contain nickel.

What should you do?

First, look to see that the sterling silver jewelry is stamped 925 or higher.  The higher the number, the more silver (and less possible nickel) it contains.  

Just a word of caution: the higher number means he piece will be softer and more prone to scratching.

If you can, ask if the sterling silver is alloyed with nickel.  As we mentioned, better-quality sterling silver is created with copper.  

Also, make sure you do not see IS which is "international silver."  This is another term used for silver plated over metal.  And guess what? Silver plating wears off over time and that means you're left with...metal. 

If your allergic reaction is mild, you may be able to use clear nail polish to coat the part of the jewelry that touches your skin.  But, nail polish wears off quickly with friction, so proceed with caution. 

 

silver necklaces

Silver Necklaces

Another way to test if the jewelry is made with high-quality silver is the green skin test.  

When you wear a ring, bracelet, earrings, or a necklace does your skin turn black or green after?  That is the sure sign of a less expensive blend of materials sometimes called silver or silver plated.  

How to test at home:

There is a way to test the authenticity of your jewelry at home, and I bet if you look in the "junk drawer" you'll have exactly the tool required to perform this "test."

A magnet.

If you're jewelry sticks to the magnet-- FAILURE

What does this mean?

It sadly means that your jewelry is only plated with silver or has other metals mixed in at a higher rate than 925 sterling silver or 14k gold.  They usually are metals such as nickel, cobalt, steel, or iron with a ferromagnetic core.   

This is where a lot of jewelry allergies come from – some people are sensitive to nickel, and non-genuine silver tends to cause these reactions.

It should be noted that a magnet test is not 100% reliable as some metals can mimic this paramagnetic response, so you should do other tests in addition to the magnet test if you’re still unsure about whether the piece of jewelry is genuine.

In a perfect world, you would be able to wear the jewelry before buying to see whether you're going to react. With online shopping, buying from a reputable company is key.  Always ask about the return policy and money-back guarantee if you break out. 

And of course, be sure that the seller guarantees the silver is genuine.  

Read Alefbet.com FAQ policy here and know that we stand behind our jewelry, and of course, you can return a piece if you have an allergy.

 

 


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