When it comes to versatile and attractive jewelry designs, zinc alloy is a very common and popular material used in making necklaces, earrings, rings, as well as bracelets. Often known as Tibetan silver or misnomer, this metal alloy is not only affordable but also skin-friendly for most people. Therefore, if you would like jewelry with versatile and customized designs at affordable costs, zinc alloy is an excellent starting point for your search.
It is worth to note that zinc alloy contains various elements, like lead and nickel. So, if you are interested in zinc alloy jewelry, it is advisable to avoid those that contain lead, which is toxic, and nickel, which causes allergic reactions. The safer and more preferred zinc alloy options are brass and nickel silver.
Is it safe for jewelry?
Depending on the type of zinc alloy used to make the jewelry, it may prove safe or not. Similarly, some people may have allergies to zinc itself, making its jewelry unsafe to wear. However, if you do not have any metal allergies, any type of zinc alloy jewelry should be safe to wear.
As noted earlier, zinc alloy contains several elements, including nickel, lead, copper, and nickel-copper. Nickel is a common cause of allergic reactions in many people while lead is toxic as it can cause lead poisoning to the wearer. Lead is a neurotoxin and is exceptionally harmful to young children.
The most common type of zinc alloy used to make jewelry is brass, which consists of copper and zinc. Brass is corrosion-resistant and durable, making it a popular choice among many jewelry makers. However, the use of excessive copper in the brass may cause some adverse skin reactions for those sensitive to metals.
Nickel silver, a zinc alloy made from zinc and nickel-copper, is another popular zinc alloy used in making jewelry. It is also durable, strong, and corrosion-resistant. This material is also more affordable than sterling silver and deigns texture it to create added dimension and depth to the piece of jewelry, making it more attractive.
Why is it safe?
Zinc alloy is safe to make jewelry because it is lead-free, and the lead is the toxic substance that makes most jewelry unsafe to wear. When you expose zinc alloy to air, it reacts with carbon dioxide to form zinc carbonate. The carbonate acts as a protective layer for zinc, stopping it from further reacting to water or air.
Manufacturers rarely use zinc in its pure form, but instead, they add 55% or more of copper to it, to make brass, a common zinc alloy used in making various pieces of jewelry.
Pros of using zinc alloy for jewelry
- It is durable as the protective layer protects the metal alloy from reacting any time soon after purchase
- It is affordable
- Zinc alloy is versatile as it easily combines with other metals
- Zinc alloy is somewhat weak when compared to other metals like platinum and titanium
- It is not very attractive to look at, especially when it tarnishes
Zinc alloy jewelry durability
Zinc metal in its pure form is a very strong metal. However, when combined with other metals such as copper and nickel-copper, it increases zinc’s dimensional and impact strength as well as its stability and corrosion resistance.
However, copper in brass is known to oxidize with the skin, causing the jewelry to tarnish and your skin to turn green. Luckily, this tarnishing effect does not occur immediately. Reason being that zinc reacts with carbon dioxide in the air to form a protective film that bars any further reaction of the metal, promoting the durability of the jewelry piece.
Several factors affect the durability of zinc alloy jewelry. Some of them include oxidation and other chain reactions, high temperatures and humidity, and abrasions and dents that may result in the jewelry piece cracking. Zinc alloy pieces are beautiful and durable. However, you have to take good care of them to promote their longevity.
Zinc alloy jewelry allergy and how to deal with it
Different people have different metal allergies, while others have none. When it comes to brass, some people may show signs of copper metal allergy, resulting in blisters, itchy skin, and rashes. Nickel silver, which consists of zinc, copper, and nickel, is a more common form of zinc alloy that causes allergic reactions to its wearers.
Nickel is a well-known cause of allergic reactions and is the most widely used metal alloy in the world. Some allergic reactions you may experience from nickel include skin redness, swelling, tenderness, and dry patches, in extreme cases. Severe cases of allergic reactions include pus-filled blisters and painful skin.
Once you find out you have zinc alloy allergies from wearing your jewelry, it is best to avoid wearing that piece to prevent further complications. You may also opt to use various soothing creams to control inflammation and reduce your body’s histamine response.
Depending on the severity of the reactions, the doctor or pharmacist may prescribe over-the-counter antihistamines or stronger medications. Some home remedies for metal allergies include applying cool and wet compresses, using calamine lotion, or hydrating body lotion.
Looking for the perfect piece of jewelry is fun and exciting. However, you have to be careful of the various metal allergies posed by different metal jewelry. Keep away from metal pieces of jewelry made from nickel and lead alloys since these are popular metals that cause allergic reactions.
Zinc alloy jewelry is very affordable and appealing to the eye. However, it will only maintain its attractive appearance if you take care of it by cleaning off the tarnish and engaging a professional conservator to remove cracks and corrosion.