Sterling Silver and Allergies to Metal

Published: 15th November 2007
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Sterling Silver and Allergies

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.

Metal Allergy Development

While some are genetically predisposed to have a reaction to some metals, others can develop a metal allergy over time with regular exposure. This is common among most kinds of allergies. So, it is possible to have a favorite piece of jewelry, regardless if it is made from a precious metal such as gold or platinum or silver, that has been worn many times or consistently for years suddenly cause a reaction.

Nickel-Free is Not Necessarily Allergy-Free

Nickel free jewelry is also more expensive as it uses other higher priced metals in place of nickel. It should not be assumed that nickel free jewelry is actually allergy free. People can be allergic to any type of metal including brass, copper and very rarely gold or silver. It is recommended that if any jewelry causes any discomfort, such as the symptoms described above, you should seek a metal allergy test from your physician to make certain you know what metal is causing this. Otherwise you might make the wrong assumption and wind up buying a whole new wardrobe of jewelry that may cause a reaction as well.



Star Silver is a jewelry business that was founded in early 2006 by a young stay-at-home mom who has a deep fascination and love for sterling silver jewelry and wanted to share the joys of sterling silver with the world.



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