Are alloy earrings hypoallergenic? Do alloy earrings contain nickel? You may ask these questions when you want to buy alloy earrings.
The prospect of wearing earrings is exciting – until you realize you are feeling some discomfort when wearing a new pair. This problem is commonly due to the metals comprising the earrings.
Not all alloy earrings will have this problem, and these are termed hypoallergenic earrings.
It always helps to know what they are made of so that you avoid metals that cause allergic reactions and look comfortable and stylish when wearing them.
What is an alloy earring?
Alloys are base metals that gain improvements in their malleability and general properties when precious metals are added to them.
After alloys are created, you can easily bend them into various shapes, and the resulting metal increases its resistance to tarnishing, rust, and corrosion.
In jewelry, most base metals in use are either silver or gold, which are both too delicate to make jewelry in their pure forms – they are better options for investments and trading.
Therefore, jewelers add other metals to improve their durability and strength, as well as allow you to make a wider jewelry range.
Why are alloys used in making earrings?
When making jewelry, you need to have metals that you can bend into various shapes. It is easier to achieve that when you use alloys instead of metals in their pure forms, which tend to be too soft and prone to scratches.
The ductility of the metal is also highly important because it will allow the jeweler to mold it easily and reduce its corrosion rates, which can be done easily using alloys.
Are alloy earrings hypoallergenic?
Jewelry that carries the term ‘hypoallergenic’ has lower chances of causing allergic reactions, although your skin may react in some cases depending on the metals involved. That makes it difficult to answer the question of whether alloy earrings are safe because reactions can vary in different people.
The earlobe is a sensitive area, so it is likely to suffer from allergic reactions or irritation, which you will notice when wearing the earrings, with the irritation stopping after taking them out. Some signs you should look out for include:
- The earlobes start swelling or feeling sore
- Itching and redness
- A crusty feeling in the ear hole due to pus discharge
- Blisters or bleeding of the skin, if the case is severe
Some metals tend to trigger allergic reactions more than others. If you notice your earrings making your ears uncomfortable, it could be due to one or more of these metals:
- Nickel– this is the biggest culprit in most allergic reactions. It is common in jewelry because it strengthens the base metals, but you should wear nickel-free hypoallergenic jewelry if you are sensitive to it.
- Brass– this is an alloy of copper and zinc, and is classified as a low-grade base metal. It tends to cause reactions in many people as well.
- Stainless steel– contrary to popular belief, stainless steel is not a hypoallergenic metal. It contains elements such as molybdenum and nickel, as well as chromium and iron. Both chromium and nickel can trigger allergic reactions. But, but you can wear earrings made of 316L stainless steel and surgical steel.
- Copper– this metal is pure in many cases, but jewelers add small quantities of alloys to it when making earrings and other accessories. While copper itself may not be an allergen, the metals added to it can irritate the skin and lead to itching.
- Gold– not all gold jewelry will lead to a skin reaction, as it depends on how it was made. If the gold jewelry is of a higher karat value, it will not tarnish or cause allergic reactions, as it has lower quantities of other metals. However, lower karat values indicate there are other metals, which can cause allergic reactions in some people, as well as tarnishing.
Do alloy earrings contain nickel?
Not all of them do, and not all hypoallergenic earrings are the same as nickel-free ones. If you see your ears struggling with the effects of wearing nickel-containing jewelry and want to switch to nickel-free options, you can check out these options:
- Niobium– this metal is an interesting one, especially in its appearance. Once it goes through anodization, it reflects a rainbow of colors; similar to the effect you would get from a diamond cut. It has the hardness of titanium, but it is malleable enough to make jewelry and wires.
- Sterling silver– you will know this easily, thanks to a .925 stamp. This stamp indicates that the jewelry contains 92.5% silver, alongside hypoallergenic metals such as copper. These do not contain nickel, though.
- Titanium (medical-grade)– this is the pure version of titanium and does not include other metals. It is very strong and corrosion-resistant, with its appearance being a shiny silver or dark gray.
- Pure gold– this does not contain nickel, but it is too soft for use in most jewelry, which is why its alloys are common. If you want the best gold jewelry, choose 14K yellow gold (58% gold, 17% copper, 25% silver) or 18K yellow gold (75% gold, 12.5% copper, 12.5% silver). Avoid white gold, because this contains nickel to add strength and color.
Pros and cons of alloy earrings
- The jewelry industry uses alloys frequently to make their pieces
- They have higher strength levels than pure metals
- They are cheaper than jewelry pieces made from pure metals
- Alloys make it easier to create endless jewelry designs
- Most alloys are very common
- Some alloys are hypoallergenic and safe to wear for most people
- They tend to lead to skin allergies
- Depending on the alloy composition, the jewelry may tarnish over time
- The piece’s color and appearance may change as the jewelry gets older
Should you wear alloy earrings?
In many cases, you can wear alloy earrings. However, you need to be careful with the alloy compositions, as some metals are likely to cause reactions more than others especially if you have sensitive skin.
As a rule, you should avoid alloy jewelry if you have sensitive skin, because alloy jewelry tends to contain common allergens like nickel and brass.
It is impossible to avoid alloy earrings and jewelry completely, because of their abundance in the industry.
Alloy earrings and pieces are great, but you must be careful about the specific metals you wear if you are dealing with sensitive skin.
Read more jewelry metal posts here or here!
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.