Jewelry Blog – hypoallergenic
I have already written in my previous post about metals being advertised as hypoallergenic, while still containing nickel under their plating. Now, I'm writing about metals that we might not even suspect contain nickel, which can lead to unexpected allergic reactions.
Gold is one of the most commonly used metals in jewelry, especially in fine jewelry. Lower carat gold usually contains nickel, and since the gold is a very soft kind of metal, the nickel is weakly embedded. That's why wearing golden earrings can cause inflammation in the earlobes. Gold above 18 carat is usually safe, however it may also contain a little nickel, leading to allergic reactions.
Nickel is also often used in silver alloys because of its durability. Silver jewelry is usually plated with other metal alloys to ensure a shiny surface, and to prevent jewelry from scratching and tarnishing. The most important element of plating alloys is nickel, with rhodium also very commonly used. Rhodium has properties that make it a quite good replacement for nickel, as it doesn't react with the skin. However, when the rhodium plating wears away in time, nickel can come to surface from the layers under the plating, reacting with the sensitive skin.
This metal is one of the most versatile metal alloys, and there is a huge variety in its content. That said, it always contains carbon and other metals besides iron. Some kinds of surgical steel contain nickel, but if it contains nickel, it's often said that the nickel is very strongly embedded, and so can't be solved out easily. There are reports; however, saying these metals can cause severe allergic reactions.
Titanium is a metal that said to be almost completely hypoallergenic as used for implanting. Titanium is an alloy containing titan, aluminum, and occasionally nickel and other elements. As the nickel is strongly embedded, meaning it can’t be solved out, titanium is one of the most hypoallergenic metal.
Niobium is a wonder metal of the modern world offering outstanding attributes: it's completely non-reactive with human tissue. It's a shiny, grey metal containing no nickel as being a pure element, not an alloy. As a result, it's especially hypoallergenic and highly safe. While other metals are colored with plating, niobium is colored by anodizing. The anodized niobium jewelry does't contain nickel either. It's recommended to wear even for those who have the most sensitive skin. Thus niobium is commonly used in professional body-piercing industry as one of the most hypoallergenic metals.
Our earwires are made of 100 % pure niobium for your safety.
Nickel, one of the most universally used metals, has an important role in the jewelry business. Unfortunately, nickel is also one of the most allergenic metals, which can lead to a variety of problems.
Where can you find nickel?
You can find nickel in almost every aspect of your life; from money, to mobile phones, watches, jewelry, and even in clothes and common household appliances.
How can nickel cause allergic reactions?
Nickel in alloys are often weakly embedded, so they can be easily solved out. Free nickel atoms can react with the perspiration on the skin, forming nickel-salts. These nickel-salts penetrate the skin, getting into the bloodstream causing allergies and inflammation. This process is extremely rapid in cases where the surface of the skin is irritated or thin, as is common around injuries or pierced skin. So if you have symptoms such as skin redness after wearing jeans, facial inflammation after using a telephone, or inflamed earlobes when wearing earrings, you probably have a nickel allergy.
Why avoid nickel?
Each time we come in contact with nickel, free nickel atoms can penetrate our skin and enter our bloodstream. If there is too much nickel in the body, nickel sensitization can appear. Therefore, even if you are not yet allergic to nickel, it's advisable to avoid coming in contact with it because a nickel allergy can occur at any age, and there is no universal cure. While the allergy may eventually disappear if nickel is avoided for several years, for many people it’s a life-long infliction.
Nickel can penetrate the body most easily while wearing earrings, due to the fact that the metal is exposed to pierced skin for a relatively prolonged period of time. That's why nickel sensitization occurs more commonly with earrings usage than with any other form of contact. Consequently, although you currently might not have problems with nickel, it's worth wearing nickel-free earwires.
Our earwires are made of 100 % nickel-free metal, called niobium. They're absolutely safe, and recommended for all those who are interested in maintaining healthy earlobes.
One of the many differences between fashion and fine jewelry are the materials, especially the metals that are used. Unlike fine jewelry, which is traditionally made of gold, silver and platinum alloys (called noble metals); base metals are used in fashion jewelry.
A base metal is a metal that corrodes and oxidizes easily. It is commonly used in opposition to noble metals. The most commonly used base metals are copper (Cu), tin (Sn), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni), rhodium (Rh), iron (Fe), titan (Ti), and lead (Pb).
Just like noble metals, base metals are most commonly used as composing alloys. There are some base metals that are used in almost every alloy because of their solid properties. One of these base metals is nickel, which helps alloys develop durability.
Alloys used in fashion jewelry are often plated with several different metal alloys in order to further develop the jewelry's properties. After plating, their color and surface properties are usually different. Nickel is almost always present in plating alloys, but occasionally rhodium is used in its place. Nickel and rhodium are used to harden the jewelry's surface and to help prevent tarnishing.
Our earwires are made of niobium, a metal that doesn't need the assistance of other metals to form an alloy. Originally, niobium is dark grey in color, but we sell earrings with brass and bronze colored earwires as well. These earwires are not colored by plating, but by another electrical process, making them 100 % nickel-free and hypoallergenic for your safety.