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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ever wonder why you're allergic to sterling silver?




The truth is people are not usually allergic to silver or sterling silver. Rather a metal known as nickel, which has been used in sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy consisting of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, traditionally copper, and sometimes some manufacturers will use nickel in sterling silver as a less expensive alternative to other metals.

Why Sterling Silver?

Pure silver is too soft to produce any functional pieces and loses shape too easily. Other metals are added to improve qualities such as ductility, firescale, tarnish resistance, and reducing casting porosity.

Why Nickel?

Nickel, is a hard and ductile, silvery white metal that has been mistaken for silver in the past. Nickel is commonly used in jewelry including with precious metals jewelry such as gold, white gold, sterling silver and platinum and also most cheap or costume jewelry. Nickel is what gives white gold it’s white color by alloying more of it with yellow gold, as gold is not found naturally white or any other color than yellow. Other metals are used to make other colors of gold, for instance silver is used to make green gold and copper is used to make rose gold. Nickel adds many other properties besides color, such as strength and durability, and it has a strong lustrous effect.

Metal Allergy Occurrence

Allergies to nickel occur in approximately 10% of the population, it is known as contact dermatitis, and nickel is the most common metal to cause an allergic reaction. An allergy to nickel used in jewelry usually causes a reddening of the skin, as well as itching or burning in the area of contact and sometimes blistering of the skin, or a rash. There are differences in severity of metal allergies and sometimes if you do not have a severe allergy to a certain metal then a piece of jewelry containing a very small portion of that metal may not cause a reaction, whereas a piece of jewelry containing a high amount will cause a slight reaction.

3 comments:

Sedie said...

Thank you for that info. I have an allergic reaction when I wear silver, so I haven't worn silver in many years. However, I like the way it looks on me more than yellow gold, so I use white gold.

Kelly said...

White gold is a great alternative, albeit more expensive.

Argentinium silver is making great strides as an alternative and affordable stand up to sterling. It's still sterling silver but without copper, thus eliminating allergic reactions!

Connie said...

My problem is not an itch or rash but an underlying almost like a sinus headache and an overall funky feeling in my joints. For awhile it was just rings but now I cannot wear silver on my body anywhere.