Putting on a new necklace or another piece of jewelry and developing a rash is not uncommon for many people, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is mainly due to a reaction with metal impurities, particularly nickel.
If you have any concerns about your jewelry, Metal-Kits can help. That is a good tip for wearing jewelry with sensitive skin. Metal-testing kits include a set of solutions that can be rubbed on jewelry to determine the metals and purity. Simply soak a cotton ball in the solution and rub it against any part of your jewelry. The color of the solution will change as a reaction occurs, able to alert you to the availability of certain metals. On sites like Amazon, a complete kit costs around $50. This is useful if you are buying jewelry and are not sure what alloys it contains, or if you have inherited vintage or antique jewelry. Also, for your sensitive skin, you can try different recipes to ease and help your sensitive skin.
The Best Hypoallergenic Jewelry Metals:
1. The Titanium
- Titanium is a naturally occurring element that is extremely hard and has three times the strength of steel while weighing 40% less.
- Grades 1-4 of titanium are pure grades. The softest and most malleable grade is 1. Due to their ease of formation, these grades are ideal for items such as earring findings and wirework.
- Body jewelry, piercings, and belly bars are most commonly made of titanium grades 5 and 23 (Ti-6Al-4V). Grade 5 titanium is the most widely used grade in the world. Both grades 5 and 23 are titanium alloys that contain up to 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium to make them significantly stronger than pure titanium. Titanium alloys are biocompatible and are commonly used in implants. Titanium is a nontoxic, long-lasting, corrosion-resistant metal.
2. The Niobium
- Niobium is a non-reactive metal that is slightly softer than titanium. It is added to other metals to give them strength, but it is mostly found in its pure form in jewelry. On a microscopic level, niobium has a smoother surface finish than titanium, which can help avoid irritation when passing through the ears for things like earring posts. It is less common than titanium and thus has a higher price. It can be anodized in a variety of colors, just like titanium. Grades 1-2 of niobium are pure grades. Grade 4 is a zirconium alloy with 1% zirconium content.
3. The Tantalum
- Tantalum is a metal with superior corrosion resistance to titanium. Tantalum is gaining popularity in medical applications because its properties are similar to those of human bone, allowing bone to grow into implants more easily than titanium.
- One disadvantage is that it has a density that is roughly 4 times that of Titanium, making it unsuitable for large pieces.
- It is still uncommon in jewelry, despite its high malleability, which is a significant advantage. It is a rarer element that is also more expensive to produce, but like Titanium and Niobium, it is ideal for anyone looking for a hypoallergenic material.
4. The Gold
- Gold jewelry with higher purity, such as 14kt or higher, is best for sensitive skin. It is, however, impossible to purchase 100 percent pure gold. Because pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry, gold alloys are used instead.
5. The Rhodium
- Rhodium is one of the rarest and valuable metals. It’s used to plate white gold to make it whiter, as well as to alloy with platinum and palladium to make them harder. Rhodium is primarily used for plating. It’s also non-reactive, forming a barrier between the nickel alloyed white gold and the skin. This wears off over time, exposing the skin to the alloy and possibly nickel. If this happens to your white gold, the color will change to a yellowish tint. You can fix it by visiting a jeweler and having a new layer of rhodium plating applied.
6. The Platinum
- Platinum is usually found in jewelry as an alloy that is 90-95 percent pure. So it’s only a 5-10% mix. It is a precious metal, and one of the most expensive hypoallergenic metals, along with 24k Gold. Because it is rarer and denser than Gold, you get less Platinum for your money.
- Because it is very inert, it has excellent corrosion resistance and does not tarnish or require plating. It is used in the medical industry for finer parts in implants, such as pacemakers.
- Because pure platinum is too soft for jewelry, alloying is required. Depending on the manufacturing process, several metals such as Ruthenium, Iridium, Palladium, or Cobalt may be used, with each type having a different hardness. Even as an alloy, platinum is frequently referred to as hypoallergenic, though cobalt alloys in jewelry can cause a Nickel reaction. Platinum has caused some people to react in unusual ways.
7. The Palladium
- Palladium is a relatively new precious metal that resembles platinum but is significantly less expensive. Because it belongs to the same metal family as platinum, it has many of the same properties. It does not tarnish and is used in jewelry alloyed with ruthenium or iridium with similar purity levels of around 95%.
- Palladium is relatively inert, and while reactions to it are uncommon, they have occurred in some instances. A 10-year retrospective study on Palladium found that allergic reactions to oral dental implants were more common than skin contact. It was determined that it was extremely rare in jewelry.
8. The Aluminum
- Although it is not commonly associated with jewelry, it is lightweight and simple to cast and work with. Aluminum is the world’s third most abundant element, and its main advantage is its incredible lightness, which is lighter than titanium but not as strong.
- It can be anodized in a variety of colors and polished to a high shine for jewelry. Rather than changing the oxide layer, dyes are used in the anodization process. Because of its lightness, it can be used to make larger, more comfortable pieces, such as bangles/necklaces with many links.