Are you allergic to the silver of your jewelry ?

If you think so, because you have noticed itchy skin and redness in the contact area of ​​your ring, bracelet or earrings with your skin, this is not enough to draw this conclusion.

Indeed, silver and gold are non-allergenic metals, recognized for their passivity vis-à-vis the body. However, silver is regularly associated with other metals, or other metals are used instead of silver for the making of your jewelry.

If you don't look like this man, then you are certainly not allergic to silver : Argyrism is the only known disease related to silver.

Argyrism

One of the rare human beings with an allergy to silver

Free Bonus : Download our complete guide to silver jewelry (fr).

You'll discover everything you need to know to shop online or in store.

What metals are found in jewelry ?

Alpaca, nickel, rhodium and copper ?

Are these metals familiar to you ? The answer should be yes.

Indeed, they are used, or have been used, when making jewelry. Depending on the origin of your silver jewelry, these metals can be found in your jewelry.

Rhodium

 

rhodium

(Photo: Extrem Silver

Rhodium is a metal used to coat silver jewelry and make it unalterable to the sulphides that blacken the metal. One can easily discern the presence on a silver jewel, because it gives it a whiter color.

Rhodium is not an allergen, therefore it can not be responsible for your allergy. However, rhodium costs around 30,000 dollars per kilogram; so that the deposit on your jewel is thin, very very thin: of the order of a few microns only.

Therefore, the life of this rhodium layer is limited. Once this layer is gone, your skin will be in contact with the metal underneath.

Copper

Copper

 

Copper is present in silver jewelry, its content is variable depending on the type of silver you bought. Since silver is a metal that is too malleable to be used in pure form, copper is used to make a silver alloy that is harder and stronger than pure silver.

According to French regulations, massive silver can be 800 silver (80% silver and 20% copper), 925 silver called sterling silver (92.5% silver and 7.5% copper) or 999 silver (pure silver).

Silver 950 is not officially recognized in France whereas it is frequent in Latin America.

If your jewelry is 800 sterling silver, then it may contain enough copper to be a factor in skin allergy. It is unlikely that sterling silver, with the small amount of copper it contains, is causing an allergic reaction.

Nickel

Nickel

(Photo source: Meowser

 

Nickel is a known allergen. Its use is prohibited in France, or allowed in a very strict framework. It is estimated that 12% of the population is allergic to nickel. It was previously used to coat jewelry and fashion accessories, to give them shine without polishing them.

It's difficult to recognize nickel with naked eye when we don't know the metals well. The easiest way is to test the object with a test chemical kit, as found here.

Alpaca

 

Alpaca

(Photo Source: Rio Grande)

 

Alpaca, called German silver, is a metal alloy (containing nickel) that mimics silver very well. Forbidden in France since the ban on nickel for cutaneous use, it is still frequently found in Latin America or Asia.

Alpaca has a density close to that of silver. We can recognize it with the naked eye because, once polished, it shines much more than silver and with a whitish hue reminiscent of rhodium silver.

Moreover, at the end of a certain time, it oxidizes by taking a greenish tint, due to the copper which it contains; unlike the silver that oxidizes darkening.

If in doubt, to test the silver quality of your jewel, the simplest is the test with nitric acid as shown in this video (fr). To learn more, we invite you to read our article on the test of silver.

 

Metal allergies following an infection

 

coatis

(Photo Source: What is a Coatis ?

 

We followed the case of a client who developed an allergy to silver (jewelry) and surgical steel (piercings) following the bite of a wild animal (a coatis had bitten her in Mexico). She developed an infection.

Despite antibiotic treatment, she has maintained an allergic predisposition to surgical steel for a few months and is still allergic to silver.

 

Free Bonus : Download our complete guide to silver jewelry (fr).

You'll discover everything you need to know to shop online or in store.

 

For further :

September 01, 2019 — Hugo Maherault

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