The only thing worse than dealing with symptoms of an allergic reaction (or what you think is an allergic reaction) from your favorite jewelry, is not knowing exactly which piece is causing you grief or why. As it turns out, there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding metal allergies and jewelry.
In this post, we’ve debunked five common jewelry myths related to allergies to help you figure out if you’re really dealing with an allergic reaction and why, or if you just need some water and a soft-tooth brush (yes, it could be that simple).
Jewelry and Allergy Myths Debunked
Myth #1: You don’t have to clean your jewelry often.
Dirt, sweat, moisture, lotion, sunscreen, and other everyday products can gather on your jewelry and contribute to corrosion (bubbles, dents, roughness, pitting) of the metal. When you don’t regularly clean your pieces, you’re more likely to experience irritation, which can trick you into thinking you have a metal allergy.
We recommend cleaning your jewelry every 3-4 months, whether you do it at home or have it cleaned professionally by a jeweler.
Myth #2: You’re allergic to gold.
Pure gold and silver (examples of precious metals) only cause allergic reactions in extremely rare circumstances. It’s more likely the perpetrators of a reaction are the alloys combined with your silver or gold. Pure gold is a very soft metal, so copper or nickel is often mixed (or alloyed) with it to help increase its strength and durability. The higher your gold’s purity (also known as the karat weight), the less likely you are to encounter symptoms. Here are the most common metal allergens we see:
- Nickel – This metal is mixed with both gold and silver and is the most common metal allergen.
- Copper – It’s used in the ever-so-popular rose gold pieces, giving them their distinct pink hue.
- Brass – Being a mixture of copper and zinc, a brass allergy may indicate that you could experience sensitivity to copper as well.
Myth #3: I wasn’t allergic when I got the ring, I can’t be now!
Let’s say you’ve been wearing the same rings for years, yet all of a sudden, you’re experiencing some less-than-desirable symptoms on your fingers such as a rash, swelling, tenderness, or itchiness. If not properly cared for, the plating on a ring can wear away over time and expose your skin to the metal alloys underneath. You may not develop a reaction for years; but if this happens, you might consider having your ring dipped as a solution.
Myth #4: Clear fingernail polish will protect the plating on my jewelry.
There’s a product known as Jewelry Shield that coats jewelry to protect the plating of your piece and prevent skin irritation. But unless you’re trying to preserve costume jewelry or other inexpensive pieces, fingernail polish is not recommended. Your high-quality pieces will thank you if you avoid falling victim to this myth.
Myth #5: I can shower and swim with my jewelry on.
We can’t stress this enough — always take your jewelry off when you wash your hands, shower, go for a swim, etc. Chlorine can damage and discolor it. Some pieces may even trap water, chemicals, and moisture underneath, creating a recipe for a bad reaction. Even if you’re recently engaged and have vowed to never take that gorgeous ring off again, it’s important to know when you should (and shouldn’t) sport your bling … especially if you want to keep it in tip top shape!
At Brinker’s Jewelers, we don’t want anyone to own a piece of jewelry they don’t enjoy. If you have any concerns about metal allergies or have been battling some of the symptoms we mentioned above, we offer plain, metal test bands you can try so we can figure out the cause of your discomfort.
We’re happy to help you uncover which types of metals agree (or disagree) with your skin, and if it’s as simple as an overdue cleaning. Stop by our store or inquire by phone 812.476.0651. Prefer email? Send us any jewelry questions you may have.