As someone with moderate metal allergies, I can attest to the difficulties of curating a perfect jewelry collection. Those trendy, inexpensive pieces tend to leave me itchy and flaunting a not-so-cute rash. Thus, my jewelry collection is much more limited due to the absolute necessity for quality pieces. There’s no such thing as an impulse purchase, as every new addition is carefully weighed by the item’s worth and how much I’ll really be able to wear it—which isn’t always easy considering how tempting it is to buy everything in sight.
Sound familiar? I know I can’t be the only one facing this problem. To shed some light on the matter, we consulted our friends at Brooklyn-based jewelry brand Catbird to help break down what metals you should steer clear of if you have sensitivities, plus what to wear instead. In other words, you can shop with confidence that your pretty new ring won’t leave you itching for something else. Keep reading for our complete guide to hypoallergenic jewelry.
“Everybody has different body chemistry, so you have to be aware of what exactly you’re allergic to in order to make an informed decision on metal choice,” says Laakso. “Sometimes a rash from a ring or other piece of jewelry is from moisture trapped beneath, rather than an actual reaction. Make sure to completely dry underneath your rings after washing your hands and remove your jewelry during any intense physical activity.”
“If you’re allergic to brass, which is a lower-grade base metal, choose solid metals like sterling silver and 14K gold,” advises Laakso. In addition, be wary of plated-brass jewelry, which can still wear off over time.
“Each manufacturer of rose gold has a different copper alloy formula,” explains Laakso. “If you have a reaction to a particular piece of rose gold jewelry, it could have a higher copper content. Don’t rule out all rose gold; ask for assistance to find a piece with a lower copper alloy percentage.”
“It’s also really common for metals to have nickel in their alloy property. If you have an allergy to nickel, try 14K and higher gold or surgical steel,” says Laakso. “If your earrings in particular are irritating you, the backing may have nickel in it. Try switching to a plastic backer instead.”
Ready to shop? Browse our favorite hypoallergenic jewelry picks below.