STERLING SILVER JEWELRY
Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% pure silver (hence the hallmark 925) and 7.5% of other metals, typically copper.
The trouble with copper is that it’s highly susceptible to tarnishing which is why sterling silver jewelry tends to oxidize so easily. But on the bright side, copper is a hypoallergenic metal because it’s a pure element.
It’s the possibility of there being nickel in the sterling silver alloy that can make it non-hypoallergenic.
When most people have allergies to metal, it’s because of nickel. Symptoms of nickel allergies can result in swelling, redness, itchiness and rashes.
The amount of nickel in sterling silver alloys is often negligible, but for those with intense sensitivity to nickel, this may still cause issues.
Sometimes sterling silver is plated with rhodium to enhance its shine and make it reflective. This is a great option because not only does it make the silver look great but it also keeps any nickel from touching your skin. Just be aware that as the rhodium wears off over time, your skin will come into contact with the base alloy.
FINDING HYPOALLERGENIC JEWELRY
All jewelry vendors should be able to tell you what their jewelry is made of. If you find a vendor who sells stainless steel, you have found hypoallergenic jewelry.
TIPS IF YOU HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN
Ears and wrists are the most common trouble areas for people who have jewelry allergies. While you might be able to wear a necklace that contains nickel in it, your ears might become irritated if you wear a matching pair of earrings. For this reason, it's wise to buy only jewelry that is sterling silver, gold or stainless steel with gold plate.