Are you looking for the answer to this question: Is zinc alloy hypoallergenic? or is alloy hypoallergenic? This post will tell you in more detail. I also wrote a post on this topic: Does Zinc Alloy Jewelry Tarnish? If you want to learn more about zinc alloy. Do not forget to read
Zinc alloy might not be the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of unique jewelry, but zinc alloys are slowly creeping up and taking their position in the jewelry world.
One of the obvious reasons for this development has to do with the uniqueness of the jewelry pieces made from the zinc alloys.
Even though the classics will still be there, gold, silver, diamond, and stainless steel, the new varieties of jewelry made from zinc alloys are outstanding. ( Zinc alloy jewelry is very popular for affordable fashion jewelry)
Note, however, that jewelry makers do not use zinc in its pure form. Instead, zinc is blended with different other metals, hence the zinc alloys. The alloys blended with zinc include bronze, copper, German Silver, and the soft solder, among others.
Despite all these options, there are two common zinc alloys today – brass which is made of copper and zinc, and nickel-silver that is made using nickel-copper and zinc.
Out of these two zinc alloys, brass is the most common metal used in jewelry thanks to the fact that it’s not a top allergen for its wearers.
The other reason for the popularity of brass is that zinc in brass reacts with carbon dioxide in the air, creating a non-reactive layer that protects brass, while enhancing the durability of the alloy.
It’s important also to note that some forms of brass have nickel in them. However, pure copper-zinc alloy is the most common alloy.
Is Zinc Alloy Hypoallergenic?
Yes, and no. There are cases where users have reported to be allergic to zinc alloys with nickel. As mentioned above, zinc alloys could be blends of zinc and copper or zinc, copper, and nickel.
The hypoallergenic component is common with brass, with many users having no reactions to the metals. Here I write a post for 10 hypoallergenic metal for rings. Click the link to read
The reason for this is that copper hardly ever causes allergic reactions, and very few people are allergic to copper.
Therefore, brass is regarded as a largely hypoallergenic metal for jewelry.
On the other hand, zinc alloys with nickel are non-hypoallergenic.
With nickel as the main cause of allergies to jewelry, buying zinc alloy jewelry with nickel means that you are at a high risk of an allergic reaction to the metal, especially if you are acutely allergic to nickel.
In most cases, nickel allergies present after a few hours and they manifest as itchiness, redness, swelling, and in other cases, rashes.
Pros and Cons of Zinc Alloys
- The alloy is quite durable
- It’s affordable
- Rust and corrosion-resistant
- It’s versatile
- Its malleability means that you can easily shape brass into different and intricate designs
- It’s not brittle
- It’s not the strongest metals out there
- It might be lacking in terms of aesthetics
- It will develop a greenish layer/ patina over time
Why is my Zinc Alloy Jewelry Turning the Skin Green?
The green color comes from the copper in the alloy. The greenness increases if your jewelry is constantly in contact with water.
The good news is that the green coloration isn’t harmful or even painful; it’s only the result of the oxidation of copper. The green layer should go away after you clean your jewelry piece.
Does everyone’s skin gets discolored from zinc alloys?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, discoloration from metals doesn’t apply to everyone. For example, my cousin’s skin gets discolored terribly from wearing brass and even silver, but this doesn’t happen to me. It would appear that there are genetic markers that make other people more sensitive to metals than others.
Note that besides the oxidation of copper, the interaction of copper with the skin’s perspiration results in the formation of chelated copper pieces.
These pieces of copper are then absorbed by the skin, hence the green discoloration. The good news is that there is no harm in this since copper is good for the body.
Besides copper, zinc and nickel also cause discoloration. Nickel is, however, an allergen.
How to Prevent the Green Coloration on the Skin?
- Don’t wear the copper/ brass jewelry for too long
- Have the jewelry Rhodium-plated
- Avoid such jewelry on hot, humid days
- Avoid swimming in this jewelry
- Always remove the jewelry when cleaning the jewelry pieces
Are Zinc Alloy Earrings Hypoallergenic?
The zinc alloys are either hypoallergenic or non-hypoallergenic. Depending on how sensitive you are, zinc alloys with copper only hardly cause any allergies. However, zinc alloys with nickel are non-hypoallergenic and shouldn’t be used in earrings or other body piercings. Zinc-copper alloy is one of the best zinc alloys for individuals with sensitive skin.
Choosing Jewelry for Sensitive Skin
- Always avoid nickel – if your ears or skin get itchy, warm, red, and swollen hours after wearing jewelry, you are most likely allergic to nickel. Though cheap, nickel is very reactive, and its interaction with water results in the formation of salt, further corroding metal and irritating the concentrated area.
- Choose palladium and zinc alloys instead of copper and nickel
- Invest in high-quality jewelry from reputable jewelers
- Get a metal testing kit – if you are unsure about those earrings, get a metal testing kit instead of hurting your ears.
The zinc alloy jewelry boasts an antique-life finish that looks great on anyone looking for something different. But because of the chemical constituents of the alloy, you may have a reaction to the metal.
Zinc alloys with nickel are non-hypoallergenic and should be avoided as much as possible by individuals allergic to nickel.
On the other hand, you have zinc alloys like brass which have copper and zinc and are more tolerable. But if you are allergic to copper, you might want to avoid these two zinc alloys altogether, opting instead for palladium alloys or other hypoallergenic metals like surgical steel.
Finally, note that the green discoloration from the copper-zinc alloys is nothing to worry about (health-wise) although you should avoid wearing such pieces in the pool or hot days since the green stains are annoying and you don’t want to look like you didn’t shower.
Here’s a trick: if you love your brass jewelry but hate the green coloration, apply clear nail polish on the piece of jewelry.
See you guys in the next post.