The Right Metal for You: Avoiding Triggers for Sensitive Skin


It’s a breezy November afternoon, and you’re browsing through the jewelry section of your department store. There are so many stylish and trendy options, and the prices are great! You leave the store with a necklace and two new pairs of earrings that you can’t wait to try.

The next day, you’re wearing the jewelry for the first time. You keep getting compliments, but when you take the jewelry off that night, it leaves a painful rash behind. 

If you’ve been here before, you know the struggle. Many metals used in fashion jewelry can cause allergic reactions, making it hard to keep wearing the pieces. Avoid this major disappointment by knowing what the allergy is, where it shows up, and how to choose the right jewelry for your skin.

The problem 

Like any allergy, your body’s reaction to certain types of metals comes when your immune system sees the metal as a harmful substance and attacks it. This creates the same symptoms as many other allergic reactions, from itching and swelling to even blistering or scabbing. Reactions can range from mild to severe, and it’s estimated that 1 out of 5 people deal with at least some kind of metal allergy. 

Nobody wants to miss out on wearing cute jewelry, but for many people, getting a rash isn’t worth it. So are you supposed to throw out your necklace collection and never wear jewelry again? The good news is that metal allergies can be traced back to a few key sources. Once you know what’s causing the allergy, you can focus on choosing jewelry that will offer style without the pain.

The cause 

At the end of the day, any metal could be the culprit, but there are three main ones to avoid: nickel, cobalt, and chromates. Nickel is the biggest offender, and 20% of people experience allergies to this common metal. Along with cobalt and chromates, nickel is often used as an alloy in costume jewelry. These metals are inexpensive and very common. You can find them in rings, necklaces, earrings, and watch buckles. Your earring backs may be nickel-based, and the base in plated jewelry also may contain these metals. 

In addition, some people are allergic to copper, stainless steel (which sometimes contains nickel as an alloy), and brass (a mixture of copper and zinc.) As a result, they might have reactions to rose gold, an alloy of gold and copper, and white gold, an alloy of gold which sometimes contains nickel.

Alternatives 

On the other hand, high quality metals, like gold, silver, and platinum are pure and unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Because of this, wearing fine jewelry, which uses high quality metals, will help you avoid any unfortunate reactions. 

When shopping for jewelry at your local jewelry store, look for pieces labeled “hypoallergenic”, or ask your jeweler what they are made of. When in doubt, opt for 14 karat gold or higher or sterling silver, and don’t hesitate to ask which metals are included. 

Only the best

In the end, if you suffer from metal allergies, it might not be a total loss. While you’ll likely find yourself buying fewer cheap and trendy pieces, the items you do have in your collection will be made to last. Investing in a gold chain, not an imitation piece, will keep you from having to replace it year after year. And wearing high quality pieces can give you a boost of confidence, knowing that, like it or not, you’re wearing only the best.

All of our Zeghani pieces are crafted in 14 karat gold, so when you look through our collections, you can feel confident in your choice. See our recent collections  to find your own unique style.