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Allergy question

Hi Cat! Likely, your reaction is caused by an allergy to nickle,
which is a base metal commonly used in less-expensive jewelry
alloys. It’s found in most costume jewelry, in most surgical steel,
and even in many so-called “hypoallergenic” ear posts and such.
(I’ve never understood why they call them that, since so many people
have this allergy.) I know it’s a pain, my one daughter has it,
too. She even gets nasty rashes from where the back of the snap on
her jeans touches her belly.

You might want to either have an allergist test you just to make
sure, or save yourself the expense and test yourself. Buy a small
piece of nickle (called nickle silver in the jewelry industry, even
though it has no silver in it). Sand it lightly and clean it well
with alcohol. Allow it to dry thoroughly so there is no residue.
Tape it to the inside of your arm with a non-irritating surgical
tape. Leave in place for a day, then remove and observe the area.
If you have a rash where the nickle contacted your skin, there’s
your culprit.

Pretty much, if you have a nickle allergy, you need to be wearing
better jewelry – silver, gold, platinum. You might do well with
titanium, and beaded projects where they are not strung on anything
that contacts the skin.

If you have a really favorite piece, though, you can try a couple of

  1. Coating all of the surfaces of the piece that touch your skin
    with several coats of clear nail polish. (don’t get it on any
    stones, though.). This is not a permanent solution … it wears off
    and has to be renewed periodically by removing the remainder with
    nail polish remover (carefully - don’t touch the stones) and
    reapplying. (this is the solution we use for my daughter’s jean


  1. Masking off stones in the piece and then coating with several
    coats of spray clear laquer (I like KlearKoat and it’s available in
    both gloss and matte – pick whichever works best for your design).
    This is basically what you find in the hardware store for protecting
    outdoor furniture … works quite well. Spray outside and from
    pretty far away from the piece … you want to “wave the piece
    through the mist of the spray” rather than concentrating the spray
    onto the piece, in order to get a good finish. Allow to dry between

My personal preference is #2 because you get a more even and
unnoticeable application of coating. (it also retards tarnishing,
which is nice)

Good luck and have fun!
Karen Goeller

I just wanted to thank everybody for so promptly responding to my
question about nickel in jewelry. You have all helped me a lot on
this. I would think that with such a significant part of the
population being allergic to this metal that costume jewelry makers
would avoid, or at least limit, using nickel. Thanks for your help!

Cat DeNigris