Is alloy a good metal for jewelry? Is alloy jewelry good or bad? Is alloy jewelry safe to wear? You’re browsing a jewelry catalog, and you’re wondering why all the metals used in making the pieces aren’t pure.
Well, that’s a perfect answer to that. In this article, we will look at alloys, the most commonly used metals in jewelry making.
We’ll break down that they are and ultimately help you answer the question as to whether they are good or bad for you.
What does alloy mean in jewelry?
An alloy is a base metal that gets precious metal added to it to improve its overall properties. Essentially, the alloy is malleable, meaning it can get bent into different shapes, and with the precious metal, the alloy then attracts corrosion, rust, or tarnish resistance.
With the base metal being part of the precious metal, it also gains hardness, flexibility, resistance, corrosion, magnetizability, and elasticity.
The purpose of making an alloy is to give it a wide range of properties that the individual metals otherwise wouldn’t have.
With the combination of these two types of metal elements, it now brings us to the gold and the silver we see getting used in jewelry. Pure gold or silver is too delicate for jewelry making and is better left for trading and investments.
The gold and silver that you see making jewelry are alloyed as they have the added properties that we’ve mentioned.
That makes it easier to make a wide range of jewelry, more than one otherwise would when using base metals and precious metals separately.
Thus, in jewelry, an alloy refers to any metal that’s not pure.
If you guys want to read more, check this post for more details: what is an alloy? why jewelers use alloy in jewelry making?
Is alloy a good metal for jewelry?
As stated, precious metals are too soft to work with. They require base metals that then increase both the hardness and durability of the metal.
The resulting alloy is one that does not tarnish. That is typically the case with alloyed metals, particularly gold and silver.
When used in their pure form, what you can expect is for the metal to bend and scratch easily and tarnish due to exposure to other elements.
Alloys are, therefore, useful metals for jewelry. They increase the variety of metals that can get used. There are different karats for gold, thanks to the base metals added to the gold itself.
With silver, the result is sterling silver, with the added base being mainly copper. Other types of alloys include stainless steel, which contains carbon, chromium, and other alloy metals.
Brass is also common in jewelry making, and it is comprised of copper and zinc. Overall, the jewelry available in the market is mostly thanks to the alloys available to work with.
Is alloy safe to wear? And why?
The question about the safety of alloys is somewhat of a tough one to answer.
If you’re in the category of people who have sensitive skin, then alloyed jewelry is not safe for you to wear.
The reason for that is a lot of alloy jewelry gets made with trace elements that, in some cases, include nickel.
While there are a majority of people who don’t have nickel allergies, about 10 percent of Americans are allergic to it.
It’s not only nickel that tends to be a culprit. Some are allergic to anything that is not made from precious metal.
The manifestation of an allergic reaction is not pleasant. Some of that include redness of the skin, rashes, swelling, pain, and in some cases, blistering.
It won’t happen immediately; it tends to occur over time, wearing a piece of jewelry. That said, don’t be alarmed with you’re suddenly allergic to your favorite pair of jewelry; it tends to creep up on some people as they get older.
For those with sensitive skin, the best type of earrings to get is biocompatible items.
That means they can coexist perfectly with living tissue, mainly when it comes to piercings.
The reason to go for biocompatible jewelry is that hypoallergenic, contrary to what it implies, merely means it is least likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Does alloy jewelry tarnish?
The question of whether an alloy will tarnish is dependent on the kind of alloy it is. Tarnishing occurs when there is a chemical reaction over the outermost layer, often resulting in corrosion.
The outcome tends to be a dulling of metal or the formation of gray or black coating. Let’s look through a few common alloys used in jewelry making.
Gold: How the gold item is made will determine whether or not it tarnishes. If it’s gold of a higher karat, it will not tarnish but may need some polishing from time to time. However, if it is gold plated, gold-filled, or gold vermeil, it will tarnish over time, exposing the base metal underneath.
Sterling silver: The 7.5 percent composition of other base metals in sterling silver is what causes it to tarnish. The metals used, usually, copper, oxidizes with the skin or the air, causing it to change color. In some instances, if you’re sensitive to copper, your skin will turn green.
Stainless steel: A suitable alloy that doesn’t tarnish is stainless steel, particularly its surgical variety. That’s because the chromium in stainless steel creates an invisible protective layer that keeps it from tarnishing and rusting or causing it or the skin to change color.
Brass: This is an alloy of zinc and copper. It will tarnish since copper does oxidize with the skin. You’ll know that the reaction is taking place because the skin the jewelry is laying on will turn green. It also forms a bluish color over time called a patina. The Statue of Liberty is made of copper, and the current color it has is a result of tarnishing.
Pros and cons of alloy jewelry
- Alloys are used everywhere in the jewelry making industry
- They are stronger than their non-alloyed counterparts
- Creating endless jewelry designs becomes easier
- Most alloys are found in abundance
- Some alloys are cheap, and thus making inexpensive jewelry is easy
- Some alloys are hypoallergenic
- Tends to cause skin allergies
- Over time the color will change
- It may tarnish, depending on the alloy
Should you buy alloy jewelry?
If you have skin sensitivity, particularly with piercings, you have to be careful about buying alloys.
There are fewer options, for example, gold or stainless steel, both of which are considered hypoallergenic and thus less likely to cause an allergic reaction. However, those with no skin issues should purchase alloyed jewelry; there’s a lot go gain.
For starters, your jewelry options instantly become limitless. Each jeweler and company on the planet create different and unique designs, and you can shop almost anywhere online.
With that kind of freedom, you can make a collection that any woman, or man, would be jealous to have.
If your skin is kind to you, then getting jewelry will be a fun experience for you.
Alloyed jewelry is everywhere in the jewelry industry, and what you have on is likely an alloy.
There is a lot of good from alloys, but those with sensitive skin need to be more careful about what they shop for.