How to Manage Gold Allergies All Entries
Roughly 10 to 15 percent of people, women more so than men, suffer from allergic reactions to metal jewelry. Allergic reactions typically include pain, swelling, itchiness, rashes, blisters, dry skin, and in severe cases chronic inflammation.
Metal allergies are triggered by the body’s immune response to certain metals, causing the body to treat these metals as toxins. Whilst there is no cure for a metal allergy, the symptoms can be treated with corticosteroid cream, nonsteroidal cream, oral corticosteroid, or an oral antihistamine.
In the world of jewelry gold in its purest form is considered hypoallergenic. However, due to its softness, jewelry items are seldom manufactured from pure gold. Other metals such as nickel, copper, iron, zinc, tin, silver, and titanium are blended into pure gold to strengthen the gold and keep it from bending and scratching. It is from these other metals that the potential for allergies arise, with nickel being the biggest culprit of them all.
With the financial and oftentimes emotional investment that goes into a jewelry purchase, it is well worthwhile to lookout for jewelry that are labeled as hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic jewelry is made from metals that are less likely to cause allergic reactions.
When it comes to buying gold jewelry it is important to consider the number of karats and the color of the gold. Both karats and color are influenced by the quantity and type of metals that are blended into the gold.
Karats indicate the purity of the gold and are rated out of 24. An 18K jewelry item for instance is made of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals. Of course, the higher the karat count, the fewer other metals are included and the less chance of an allergic reaction.
The color of gold is manipulated by using pure gold as a base and incorporating other metal types. One of the metals typically incorporated when creating white gold is nickel. Nickel is used to harden white gold, but also to give it that ‘white shine’. Sometimes as much as 20 percent nickel is included and for this reason white gold is the most allergy prone among white, yellow and rose gold. Occasionally a hypoallergenic version of white gold is manufactured where the nickel is substituted with platinum or palladium.
When it comes to yellow and rose gold, no nickel is incorporated. Instead differing amounts of copper is included, and whilst copper by itself is a hypoallergenic metal, it is oftentimes strengthened with nickel. As such there remains a risk of developing an allergic reaction when wearing yellow and rose gold, but the risk is significantly less than that of wearing white gold. Also, yellow gold includes much less copper than rose gold and therefore poses the least risk of all.
Other colors of gold include green, grey, purple, blue and black. For these colors the same principle applies. The risk of an allergic reaction is relevant to the amount of nickel or copper that may be included to achieve the desired color.
All in all, when it comes to gold, a high karat yellow gold is the best option for those who are concerned about an allergic reaction.
At Ralph Mueller & Associates we celebrate every color of gold but realize that our customers often have a personal preference, usually influenced by skin tone or allergies. Visit our store in Phoenix, Arizona where our team is available to advise on the hypoallergenic qualities of our various gold products.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position where your favorite jewelry item is causing you an allergy, you may want to apply a rhodium plating. Rhodium is a hypoallergenic, silvery-white metal that can be used to plate any metal that conducts a current, including the various colors of gold. Rhodium matches really well with white gold, but will change yellow and rose gold to a platinum color. Be mindful though when plating jewelry, in time the plating wears off and exposes the underlying metal. It is therefore necessary to reapply a rhodium plating every 12 to 18 months. If rhodium is not an option, consider applying a thin layer of clear cutext or jewelry protector to the jewelry item as this will help avoid direct contact with the skin.