If you’ve had adverse reactions to certain metals coming into contact with your skin, you may have believed that wearing jewelry was outside the scope of possibility. However, there are options for jewelry made from hypoallergenic metals available. Knowing which metals are more or less likely to cause a reaction can mean avoiding unfortunate breakouts when you wear your favorite earrings, necklaces, or bracelets.
What Does It Mean For A Metal To Be Hypoallergenic?
There is no formal or medical definition for the term hypoallergenic. It simply means that an item is less likely to cause an allergic reaction when you come into contact with it, either through touch, smell, or taste.
A common misconception about hypoallergenic metals is that they can’t trigger an allergy. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Hypoallergenic means that the metal is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, but the possibility still exists. Thankfully, the likelihood of hypoallergenic jewelry causing an allergic reaction is extremely small.
What Metals Are Considered Hypoallergenic?
Hypoallergenic metals are primarily for people who have an allergy to nickel, the single most common metal allergy, with copper coming close behind. Complicating matters is the fact that, because nickel is solid and erosion resistant while still being malleable enough to shape, people use it to strengthen virtually every metal alloy you come across. So, genuinely hypoallergenic metals do not contain even a trace of nickel or copper.
Here is an overview of the most commonly used hypoallergenic metals.
Titanium is an extremely hard natural metal. Lighter than steel but about three times as strong, titanium comes in several grades, with grade 1 being the softest. Grade 5 is the most commonly used grade, and it is generally an alloy mixed with aluminum and vanadium to create a grade that is stronger than pure titanium on its own.
Note that titanium naturally contains nickel deposits. However, the nickel is embedded so firmly into the titanium that the bond makes an allergic reaction unlikely, meaning that titanium is still classed as a hypoallergenic metal.
Platinum used in jewelry is usually an alloy at 90%-95% purity. It is one of the precious metals, along with 24k gold, making it one of the more expensive metals. The metals platinum is typically alloyed with include ruthenium, palladium, iridium, or cobalt, depending on the manufacturing process and the jeweler, with each metal differing in hardness.
Although rare, cobalt in platinum jewelry can sometimes cause a nickel-like reaction. Check the purity of the platinum in your jewelry and what metals have been mixed in before wearing platinum jewelry, to be safe.
Niobium is a relatively new metal, having been discovered in 1801. It is a shiny white metal that is highly corrosion-resistant thanks to a layer of oxidation on the outside. This same layer has the added effect of causing the niobium to turn various colors. Niobium is considered hypoallergenic because it contains no nickel, copper, lead, or other additives, and it is never plated or painted.
Argentium is a type of silver that uses germanium as a hardening metal in its alloy, making it hypoallergenic. The addition of germanium also brightens the silver coloring. In addition, Argentium has been noted to be highly tarnish-resistant, and it is certified 100% recyclable.
Hypoallergenic metals are capable of making jewelry just as fine as nickel and copper alloys. And if you’re in the market for fine jewelry, contact the professionals at Casa D’Oro.