My Mom swore for years that she was Allergic to Gold.
She said that anything under 14kt Gold would break her out in a Rash. I used to Laugh and think it was just her way of getting more Expensive Jewelry, but then I found out, there’s truth to this here madness!
Turns out, she wasn’t Allergic to Gold, or as she says “Cheap Gold“, she was allergic to Nickel.
Allergic to Nickel?
Just about everyone that says they are Allergic to Gold are Not Allergic to Gold, but are actually Allergic to the Nickel in the Gold! Allergies to Nickel is known as Dermatitus or Eczema. Interestingly enough, I found out a lot of people are Allergic to Nickel. What’s funny is, people can wear their Rings and Jewelry for 40 years and never be affected by it, then suddenly it seems, overnight, they start getting reactions. Hmmm…
The Signs of Gold and Nickel Allergies are: Itchiness, Rashes, Blisters, Redness, Bumps, Swelling, Puffiness, Broken Skin, Puss, Bleeding, Burning Sensations and Discoloration (Like black marks and dark stains). Ouch! Painful, Gross Stuff!
Some people will never know what actually causes their Allergy to sprout up. Studies have shown that getting a Gold Allergy can be as simple as getting a new Dental Cap or Crown. There’s Nickel in those Caps! Others often get symptoms after getting their Ears Pierced.
Still others get Gold or Nickel Allergies from everyday household items like:
Coins! Coins? Yep, Coins! Cashiers Beware! You may need to start wearing gloves to handle that money. Even carrying coins in your pocket can leak Nickel and cause Allergies to flare up. Other common things are: Zippers, Buttons, Bra Hooks, Paperclips, Eye Glasses, Hairpins, Lipstick Holders, Keys and Key chains, Razors, Lighters, Knives, Pens, Purse Handles, Needles, Scissors, Staplers, Teapots, Toasters, Kitchen Utensils and even Vacuum Cleaners! (Good reason to say “I don’t do floors!“)
How many people are Allergic?
It’s been said that 12% of the people (mostly women) are Allergic to Nickel. (Some even more during THAT time of the month!)
But here’s the bizarre thing…
It’s not the Nickel that causes Nickel Allergies! What? When you break it down, it’s actually the Nickel Salts! You see, when your Gold Jewelry gets Wet, Damp, or gets Sweat and Moisture on it from your Skin or Lotions and Creams, it can Erode the Jewelry and cause Corrosion to the Nickel content in your Rings. That Corrosion causes Bubbles, Dents, Pitting, and Roughness to appear on the Gold. (You can actually see Gold Plated Jewelry Rust and Corrode right off the Base Metal.) (See Picture!) That Corrosion irritates the Skin it comes in contact with, mixes with your Perspiration and causes Nickel Salts to enter your Bloodstream and Cells.
Allergic for Life!
The sad thing is, once you become Sensitive to Gold or Nickel Allergies, you’ll always be Allergic to it. You can take your Rings off for months and not have any Reactions and think you’re Cured, and all it takes is simply putting your Rings back on for just a little while, a day, a couple hours, even the slightest contact, and you’ll be quickly Broken out with Blisters, Puffiness, Burning Rashes and Black Discoloration. Point blank: There is no easy Cure to a Gold or Nickel Allergy! Just prevention!
And you want to know what the sad thing is?
Besides never being cured from this Allergy, you’ll find that you’re more than likely to break out with an Allergic Reaction in the summertime, when you’re Hot and Sweaty too. Great Fun in the Sun! Oddly though, most people can tolerate their Allergies in the icy, cold, Winter!
So what can be done about a Gold Allergy? First, try a higher Gold Content! If 10kt Gold Breaks you out, upgrade to 14kt Gold. If 14kt Gold gives you Rashes, move on up to 18kt Gold. If that doesn’t work, then give up! Anything higher in Gold content is usually too soft to wear as Jewelry.
Some people will say they get by with coating the inside of their Rings with clear Fingernail Polish. Whether this works or not, I don’t know. I would think not, since the polish would wear off quickly and no matter what, your fingers will still be touching the Sides of the Ring.
This is what I say about Gold…
Buy Jewelry that doesn’t have Nickel in it like Stainless Steel, Titanium, Platinum, Copper, Silver or Hypoallergenic Jewelry! Copper is questionable since it leaves a Horrible Green Stain on your skin that’s hard to scrub off. Platinum is great if your Wallet can afford it. Platinum is extremely Expensive and may still contain traces of Nickel in it. No matter what, you may want to check it out! Sterling Silver is also Pure and contains no Nickel, but Silver is Soft and Tarnishes easily. I wouldn’t use it to hold my Diamonds!
The Metal of Choice
So the Metal of choice for people Allergic to Gold and Nickel would be Titanium. Titanium is a Gun-Metal colored, White Metal, that’s Pure, Light-Weight and Very Durable! I have yet to find a person ever Allergic to Titanium. (Not that I’ve tried!) I highly Recommend it. You can find pretty much all types of Jewelry in Titanium. Jewelry like Rings, Watches, Earrings and Pendants.
And just so you know, the worst Jewelry to buy if you have Gold Allergies is Costume Jewelry. Costume Jewelry is Cheap Jewelry that’s always Plated! You’re just asking for trouble. Anything that’s Gold Plated will be stamped GP inside the shank. It can also be stamped GF for Gold Filled. Same difference! Costume Jewelry contains a thin coating of Gold that’s layered over a Cheap Base Metal usually containing Nickel. Stay away from these!
Curve Nickel Allergies
A couple of things you can do to Curve Nickel Allergies: Ask for Porcelain Crowns and Dental Caps. Don’t put Gold or Nickel in your Mouth! You mouth Absorbs Nickels quickly into the Bloodstream and can cause Reactions to appear anywhere on your body.
If you do get your Ears Pierced, (Or get anything else Pierced for that matter!) make sure they use a Stainless Steel Needle to do the Piercing. Remember this if you decide to get your little Girl’s Ears Pierced also. Parents don’t think about this, but if it’s Pierced with a Needle that contains Nickel, or if you buy her Cheap Earrings that contain Nickel, you could give your Child an Allergy for LIFE! Always get pierced with Surgical Stainless Steel Needles!
A couple of more things to consider about Gold Allergies… If your ring is too tight on your finger, or if it’s Hollowed out and Air and Moisture and Sweat get trapped underneath the Ring, you’ll likely Break out in a Bumpy, Red, Rash! Keep your rings Clean and Dry and make sure they’re sized properly. It’ll help prevent any Gold Irritations.
So what is the Best Advice for people Allergic to Gold?
This is the best advice you can get regarding Gold Allergies… Buy Jewelry that’s Hypoallergenic. If you want to see if you have an Allergy to Gold, contact a Pharmacist or Dermatologist and have them do a Skin Patch Test on you. Or you can buy Nickel Testing Kits that will test your Gold Jewelry and see if it contains any Nickel.
Something else to know, White Gold Rings will break you out more than Yellow Gold Rings! Why? Because the plating that Jewelers put on White Gold to make it look Whiter, usually contains nickel.
Each Ring is Different!
Gold allergies are weird because women can wear 2 different Gold Rings, one on each hand, and one ring will cause a Reaction and a Rash and the other ring doesn’t! Try to explain that to an Angry, Upset Woman! It ain’t easy. But the truth is, a lot of Rings are made and Cast differently. Not only is the manufacturing and process different, but they often contain different Alloys. It’s not Consistent! When the ring is made, not all of the Metals may melt and blend evenly together. There can be more traces of Nickel in some spots of the ring. That concentrated area of Nickel could be enough to break you out in a Rash on one hand, but not the other. So what do you do with that ring? Trade it up or Trade it in! Sometimes it happens. We’re dealing with Chemicals and Metals here, it’s not perfect.
Nickel Testing and Protection
One Product that you may be Interested in, is Athena Allergy Nickel Solution Detect & Protect Set, which contains a Bottle of Detection that you put on your Ring to see if it contains Nickel. If it does, you can then Coat it with the Protect Guard (Coat of Lacquer) to keep that Nickel from Touching your Skin.
It’s a Great Solution to a Frustrating Problem.
Repairs and Allergies
Also Jewelry Repairs can even be the cause of Gold Allergies. Crazy eh? But the Solder Jewelers use can sometimes contain Nickel. The spots where the Solder is applied, (Like where they Sized your ring) can make you break out.
And one thing that most people don’t think about when it comes to Gold Allergies and Jewelry Allergies is… Watches! Watches and especially Watch Bands and Watch Clasps! Most Watches sold on the market today are Gold Plated over Base Metal, or just Plain Base Metal. If you find these irritate your Wrist, check into buying a Solid 14kt Gold Watch. Or better yet, buy a Titanium or Stainless Steel Watch.
But is this always the case of Gold Allergies? Nope! While most Jewelers and Jewelry Stores will still say that people are Allergic to the Nickel in the Jewelry and NOT allergic to the Gold itself… this is not entirely true. There are a few isolated cases that show that some people really ARE allergic to Gold! It’s very rare, but it can happen. These people can wear other Metals, like Nickel and not break out. It almost sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Wear Higher Content
And as for the rest of the people allergic to Nickel, you could always wear Pure Gold (10kt, 14kt, 18kt Gold contains Nickel, Pure Gold doesn’t!) and not get any Rashes. Right? Sadly this won’t help much, because pure Gold (24kt Gold) is too soft to wear as Jewelry. Why, it’s almost impossible to even find Pure Gold on the market unless you invest in Solid Gold Bars! So even if you could wear Pure Gold, you still can’t! Bah!
Do they sell Gold Jewelry without Nickel is the real question. Answer: They do! Do a search for “Hypoallergenic Gold Jewelry“. You’ll find some.
Get a test to see if you’re Allergic to either the Gold or Nickel Metal first! Then either upgrade to 14kt Gold, throw away your Gold Plated Costume Jewelry, or if that doesn’t work, invest in Platinum, Stainless Steel or Titanium instead.
You may not like switching from your beautiful Yellow Gold to a shiny White Metal, but I look at it this way… It sure beats a Sore, Red Finger!
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About the Author
Author Richard Scott. Certified Diamontologist and Gemologist. 30 years of experience.
Let Richard help you choose the best diamond, the most dazzling engagement ring, and save as much money as possible. Read more about the author here. Follow Richard on social media; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Contact Richard Scott here.