The word 'Hypoallergenic' has a greek origin and means relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
Sounds about right, who wouldn't want to enjoy a beautiful piece of jewellery without a worry? However, to be 100% clear, when the term "hypoallergenic” is used, it means that the maker claims its product causes fewer allergic reactions than other ones. That doesn't necessarily mean it is entirely allergy-proof, however, it's highly likely that it is gentler on the skin and would not cause any issues.
So, what metals are good for those of us who have a more sensitive skin?
PURE METALS OR METAL ALLOYS
WHAT IS AN ALLOY?
An alloy is a uniform mixture. It is made up of two or more chemical elements, of which at least one is a metal. Most alloys are made by melting the metals, mixing them while they are liquid to form a solution, then leaving them to cool and turn solid again.
Alloys could prove to be problematic for a couple reasons. Firstly, because they may contain trace elements of reactive metals like nickel. Secondly, because the electrochemical reaction between the metals may cause allergies. Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, perhaps it's safer to avoid alloys and wear pure, unalloyed metals like silver, gold, titanium, platinum, surgical steel, stainless steel, etc.
HOW ABOUT STERLING SILVER? What earrings are hypoallergenic?
"Am I allergic to sterling silver earrings?" you ask? Like so many other things, the answer is, "it depends."
Sterling silver must be at least 92.5% pure silver, with the remaining 7.5% filled in by another metal. This should have the s925 watermark. That often is copper (another soft, but non-allergenic metal), with a tiny bit of something else to help the soft metals keep their shape and not get damaged.
Sometimes, that other metal is nickel. Quite a few people are allergic to nickel. However, often the other metal is something benign to most people - zinc, tin, boron, lithium, germanium, platinum, or indium. But, unless the product states, “Made with nickel-free sterling silver”, or “Made of hypoallergenic sterling silver,” you can’t be certain.
Are you an absolute fan of sterling silver jewellery? Test your knowledge with our Guide to Sterling Silver HERE
It's safe to say that the safest metal to wear for those who may have sensitive skin or known allergies is platinum. Platinum engagement rings are the most hypoallergenic rings, for example.
That being said, allergies are not as common, and most people enjoy wearing pieces made from variety of different metals.
How to Make Any Pair of Earrings Hypoallergenic?
No matter whether your earrings are for women, earrings for girls or earrings for men, if you have a pair of earrings that you just absolutely love but just can’t wear without getting a reaction or itchiness, here are a couple of tricks that you can try to make them tolerable.
The best solution is to paint the posts with a couple of coats of clear nail polish. After the polish dries, it will create a barrier between the nickel in the earrings and your ears. You will have to reapply the polish periodically if you plan to wear them more than a few times.
If you’re in a hurry, clean the earrings with hydrogen peroxide and then apply a couple coats of Vaseline. Be aware, however, that this will likely only work for a couple of hours before you have to reapply the jelly again.
Here's a few jewellery inspirations for you, in case you love beautiful handcrafted jewellery that won't break the bank.