Acrylic jewelry pieces are increasingly gaining popularity in the industry and market. It comes in a variety of colors, therefore versatile, giving you a lot of room to play around and explore with different pieces. Acrylics are also lightweight and inexpensive making them perfect when trying out bold and risky trends.
But, while the FDA has approved some grades of acrylic to be used on body jewelry, it doesn’t mean that all acrylics are safe. That brings us to the major question, can acrylic jewelry be considered hypoallergenic?
In this post, we will attempt to answer this question by discussing what acrylic jewelry is, how its made and whether or not it is safe to buy such jewelry.
What Is Acrylic Jewelry?
When we talk about this type of jewelry, we are referring to pieces that entail acrylic material.
This is a glassy plastic-like material that comes in a variety of shapes and colors. It can be used to make beads or pendants for jewelry. You can even use acrylic material to create entire pieces of jewelry. Jewelers however prefer to mix acrylics with metals like silver.
What jewelers love most about making acrylic jewelry is that it’s an inexpensive material that’s easy to work with. You can curve, drill, cut, bend and polish it to whatever desired design.
What’s more, you do not need that many tools and minimal heat to achieve that. To add to that, because they come in a variety of colors, acrylic jewelry adds a colorful, vibrant, and artistic touch to your look.
Acrylic Making Process.
Unlike other gems and crystals, acrylics are not natural stones but synthetic materials. They belong to the polymer family, which are synthetics formed by the linking of hundreds, even thousands, of molecules in a sought chain. But, despite being made of so many components, polymers have different properties from these components.
Polymerization is the process with which polymers are made, and it was developed between 1869-1877. It wasn’t until 1936, however, that the process was used to create acrylic sheets. The basic molecule used in making acrylic is methyl methacrylate.
During the process of polymerization, the monomer is reacted with a catalyst like organic peroxide. The catalyst is responsible for causing a reaction where the monomers link to each other resulting in an acrylic polymer.
Acrylic is often processed in the form of molding powder, sheets, and rods, and tubes. To process the molding powder, suspension polymerization is the best method to do so. The method involves suspending the monomer in a solution of water and the catalyst. The sheets of acrylic, are however formed through bulk polymerization that exists in two methods.
atch bulk polymerization is the most common of the two and produces thick sheets of acrylic or sometimes rods and tube forms. Continuous bulk polymerization on the other hand is a quicker method of the two and requires less labor.
It is, however, forms thinner sheets. The entire processing, handling, and storage of acrylic are done in a controlled environment to avoid contamination with harmful chemicals and ensure quality.
Is Acrylic Jewelry Hypoallergenic?
When it comes to jewelry, everyone’s biggest concern is how hypoallergenic the materials used are. For acrylics, the best variety is the PMMA acrylics. Not only are they light, comfortable and cheap, PMMA acrylics are also considered skin-friendly. In terms of biocompatibility, this kind of acrylic is least likely to have any reactions with your skin. It is therefore a safer and cheaper alternative to metal jewelry.
But while acrylic won’t react to your skin, there are certain concerns that the material can be slightly toxic. The main concern is that body temperature (80F or warmer) causes the acrylic to degrade and release vapors of its monomer into the skin. These chemicals are considered slightly toxic and capable of causing damage to living tissue and possibly even skin cancer.
What’s more, acrylic tends to crack, becoming porous or degrading over time or when exposed to heat or chemicals. It is therefore difficult to sterilize acrylic jewelry with alcohol or through an autoclave. This could increase the chances of getting an infection from your jewelry, especially for new piercings.
Is Acrylic Good For Sensitive Ears?
While acrylic jewelry is said to be hypoallergenic and therefore less likely to react with your skin, it is not 100% safe especially for sensitive skin or new piercings. Earrings made of acrylics are lightweight and less likely to contain traces of nickel or other reactive elements.
They are however corrosive and not easy to clean. Also, some acrylic earrings like glow in the dark earrings could potentially contain carcinogenic substances which are deemed unsafe for the skin.
So, while acrylics earrings may be a great alternative for individuals with metal sensitivity, it is not 100% the safest option, especially for sensitive new ear piercings.
Pros And Cons Of Acrylic Jewelry.
The following are the main advantages and disadvantages of owning acrylic jewelry:
- They are affordable and easily available. You can get a pack of 50 acrylic beads for as low as $8 and manage to make about 7 bracelets and 4 necklaces from that.
- They come in a variety. Acrylic jewelry is very colorful and comes in a wide range of colors and designs. There is therefore a choice for everyone.
- They are lightweight. Being plastic, acrylic jewelry has minimal weight, they are therefore very comfortable to wear, especially for an active person.
- Acrylic jewelry is not easily cleaned. The jewelry is likely to degrade when exposed to alcohol or autoclaved, therefore not great for new piercings.
- They are fragile. This type of jewelry is not built for long-term use, that’s because they easily scratch, crack and become porous over time.
- Could damage the skin or cause skin cancer. Some acrylic jewelry could contain harmful carcinogenic substances. Also, body temperature causes harmful chemicals from the jewelry to sip into the skin.
Should You Buy Acrylic Jewelry?
The question of whether or not acrylic jewelry is worth buying will depend on your priorities. If you are looking for something inexpensive and cheap, acrylic jewelry is the way to go.
You’ll have many color options and out-of-the-box designs to play around with. If you are looking for something durable then acrylic jewelry may not be the best option.
This type of jewelry is fragile and can easily crack or scratch. Unlike diamonds or other gems, polishing acrylic may on make the damage worse.
Working with acrylic is easy and the pieces made from it are versatile. The jewelry is also inexpensive, making them the perfect pieces when trying out risky trends. But there are always two sides to the coin. Even with its advantages, acrylic jewelry also has its downsides which you should keep in mind, especially concerning how safe the jewelry is for your skin.
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.