Hypoallergenic jewelry is something most of us look for today. You will look at the constituent metals in the jewelry to know if the jewelry will cause some reaction or not. Unfortunately, there are cases where the ‘hypoallergenic’ tag isn’t enough and wearing the piece of jewelry still results in an adverse reaction. So, what does hypoallergenic mean?
Hypoallergenic refers to a substance being or containing components that are below the normal levels of allergenic reactions. The term was first adopted in the 1950s in the jewelry industry, but it’s important to note that hypoallergenic isn’t synonymous with nickel-free, which means that a hypoallergenic material could have nickel in it.
One of the metals that are worth mentioning is iron. It’s one of the metals that’s available in abundance in the earth’s crust, and it’s used in numerous ways. But is it hypoallergenic? Can you wear jewelry made of iron safely, without worrying about an allergic reaction to the iron components of iron oxide?
Keep reading to learn more about iron and hypoallergenic metals.
What is iron made of?
Iron is the 4th most abundant element found in the Earth’s crust. It is a pure elemental metal that’s mined from the core of the earth and the earth’s crust. The iron from the earth’s molten core is largely made of liquefied iron, sulfur, and nickel.
Most of the iron that’s mined for human use often ends up being used in the form of steel, which is a metal alloy. The most common steel alloy is carbon steel, which, despite the name, contains only about 2% of the carbon in mass. Note that it is out of carbon steel that you get metals like stainless steel. Then there is the non-steel iron variety, better known as cast iron. Cast iron features a great deal of carbon by the metalworking standards.
Regarding its source, iron is extracted from the iron core, which is a rock with sands, clays, and oxygen. The iron is separated from the ore through a rigorous process at very high temperatures in iron working. In the iron extraction process today, iron is made through the heating of magnetite and hematite in the blast furnace with coke (a carbon form) and calcium carbonate or limestone. The end product is (crude) steel.
Is iron (jewelry) hypoallergenic?
Although iron isn’t the most common or obvious choice of metal used to make jewelry, some jewelers and blacksmiths use iron in jewelry making because of its tolerance.
Generally, most people will have a reaction to the jewelry they wear, with the skin reactions exacerbated by the cosmetics used. Nickel is the most common cause of metal allergies, even as most people react to copper, nickel-palladium, copper, brass, bronze, and a tiny percentage is allergic to some forms of gold.
However, it appears that people don’t suffer from iron allergies, which means that iron could be the best choice of material for jewelry if you are looking for the jewelry with the highest level of tolerance.
Therefore, if you are wondering if iron jewelry is safe and hypoallergenic, the answer is yes. You can wear iron jewelry safely. Some of the common kinds of jewelry made of iron are forged iron jewelry, which is easily crafted into elegant and unique pieces of jewelry.
Rusting in iron jewelry
Generally, it’s only iron and the metal alloys with iron that rust. And in comparison to other metals that rust like copper, rusting in iron is rather quick, especially when the iron piece is exposed to oxygen and water.
And when the iron is exposed to water, anything made of iron will start to rust in pretty much a few hours. Iron also rusts fast when you expose it to temperature extremes.
The high temperatures often cause alterations in the chemical make up of the metal, and this will make the iron prone to faster reactivity with oxygen from the environment/
It, therefore, implies that if you have jewelry made of iron or iron alloys, you’d have to take extra good care of the piece, keeping it away from moisture, chemicals, and high-temperature conditions.
Iron Meteorites and Stony-Iron Meteorites
Some of the iron jewelry on the market come in the form of iron meteorite stones. The iron meteorites contain large amounts of iron, along with other metals like nickel and cobalt. The iron meteorites make up about 6% of the recovered meteorites, and they have an overall charcoal-gray appearance.
Then you have the stony iron meteorites that feature beautiful yellow specks thanks to the pockets of olivine plus pyroxene that surround the iron matrix. The stony iron meteorite is quite prized thanks to its rarity and beauty.
These iron meteorites are largely hypoallergenic.
Pros and cons of Iron (jewelry)
- Iron jewelry (rings) are important in Vedic Astrology.
- Canadian engineers wear iron rings to symbolize or as a reminder of their obligations and the ethics that are associated with the profession.
- Beautiful jewelry
- Versatile forged iron styles
- The patina that forms on the surface of iron jewelry after rusting and tarnishing gives the jewelry a beautiful finish.
- Tarnishes and rusts, and it requires a lot of care and attention.
It might not be the most obvious or the standard option of materials used to make jewelry, but iron (forged) makes beautiful jewelry.
The material is versatile and hypoallergenic, and it makes the best of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, etc.