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Allergy to metal

I read a post a few days ago and am worried I am having a reaction
to an 18k ring. I am going to have the ring tested first, then go to
my dermatologist. I am getting a red, itchy, scaling rash wherever I
wear the ring. Weirdly, it does not seem to happen on the fingers
adjacent to the ring. Does this sound like an allergy to anyone?

If I am allergic to the ring and it is 18k, is there anything I can
coat the inside of the ring with that would prevent the reaction? It
has many open spaces and diamonds.

Esta Jo, weeping over her commitment ring.

Esta Jo Schifter
Shifting Metal

Esta Jo- If your other fingers that touch the metal are not breaking
out it is probably a soap or cosmetics allergy. Most folks who
develop rashes under their rings are suffering from things that can
get trapped under the ring and held in immediate contact with your
skin. Before you give up on wearing that ring try the following…
First clean the ring in a sonic, rinse well, then steam. Remove the
ring for hand washing, applying cosmetics, perfume, or hand lotion.
When done with the cosmetics or hand lotion wash and dry your hands.
Then only when dry put the ring back on.

The culprit in most soaps and cosmetics that cause rashes are

Also the micro particles in makeup will also abrade the ring and
leave a dark smudge on one’s fingers.

It wouldn’t hurt to not wear the ring for a week to let your skin
heal before you try any of the above suggestions.

Have fun and make and wear lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

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Sounds like a allergic reaction to me. Best thing is to have it nano
ceramic electroplated. Second best is clear fingernail polish on the
inside, this wears off easily

Vernon Wilson
Panama Bay Jewelers

Esta Jo - two bits, your ring is hollow and has accumulated debris -
long term or water - short term. Clean it up, let it dry and wear

I advise folks without ultrasonic cleaners to soak the ring over
night with a very small bit of detergent and or ammonia and water.
Then with a soft, never used with toothpaste, tooth brush, gently
brush the ring, inside and out to loosen debris. Rinse and dry

Repeat daily. Wide rings can make a similar problem if you don’t dry
your finger after washing hands.

Judy Hoch

Hi Esta,

In africa alot of the gold dust, is not refined meaning its often
bought by foreign buyers who then mix it with other metals to harden
it and also allow for color in the gold. Thus often there are
impurities in such gold such as very low levels of arsenic, uranium,
etc in the gold. Often it is this that one is allergic to and not
the gold itself.

The cost to make pure 99.99% gold used in coins and gold bullion
which is all certified is down by special refiners in theworld There
are not many of them It is a much time consuming and involved
process with high price for refining to suchpurity with costs spread
out over multiple kilos of gold. This refined gold as used in coins
or currency, gold certified bullion, etc thus does not have the
impurities in it.

Lee Horowitz

I have seen this before & it is more likely that it is moisture
being trapped under your 18k ring. It creates a perfect environment
for a fungus to grow& irritate your skin. When you remove the ring,
it feels like you have beenburned. It happens mostly under wide
bands where it is difficult to keep the skin dry. Tricks to help
prevent this problem include always removing the ring at bedtime so
the finger can dry thoroughly. Also, be meticulous about drying
after washing your hands. No coating on the ring will help as the
problem isn’t the metal. This can also happen in rings that have a
depression under a stone where moisture can be trapped.

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Esta Jo…re redness.

A few theories after just one cup of coffee:

  1. They left some cleaning compound inside the complicated ring
    which irritates your skin. Clean it thoroughly, using a toothbrush
    and rubbing alcohol. Wipe and blow it clean, then inspect for any
    suspicious residue under the stones. Wear it on a different finger to
    see is there’s a recurrence.

  2. It might not be 18KT, only l8KT gold plated, and some places
    around the stone seats are not plated, or perhaps the plating was
    scratched through to the base metal when the stones were set, leaving
    base metal to irritate your finger. In 35 years, I’ve never heard of
    anyone getting a finger specific rash from an 18KT gold ring. Has
    anyone on Orchid? Could this be yet another example of a mismarked
    metal? You can try doing a couple of coats (well-dried in between
    coats) of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails colorless nail polish, just
    avoid the backs of the stones. Theoretically, that would isolate your
    skin from anything that’s irritating it in the ring.

  3. A solid 18KT gold ring that’s complicated with lots of diamonds,
    should cost a hefty sum, perhaps at least $2500, probably more. Is
    your friend likely to have paid that much for a promise ring? If you
    find he paid much less, very likely it’s gold-plated, and possibly
    the diamonds would also be suspect in that instance.

You can always take it to a reputable pawnbroker or jeweler, ask
them to test the metal. Also, most have diamond testing equipment.

M J St. Amand

Just a thought here, it could be the solder and not the ring itself.

So sad. Let’s hope that a solution can be found that allows you to
continueto wear your special ring.

There are several possible causes for your skin irritation, and a
metal allergy is one. Do ask the provider of the metal what are the
components of the18K alloy. Also several questions to be answered,
such as: is this the only ring you wear (IOW, do any other rings of
similar design cause irritation?); is the band wide and
tight-fitting so that moisture is trapped; have you changed the
hand-washing soap?

If you have isolated the cause to only this ring, do try coating the
interior with clear nail polish. Although temporary, is this stops
the irritation, then consider a coating more permanent such as the
ceramic coating that Riosells.

Let us know how you solved the mystery and what the solution is, and
good luck.

Judy in Kansas, where almost all the plants have been fumigated and
treated for winter hold-over. Now to find places for them to exist

Thank you all for your comments. I obviously did not explain who the
ring was constructed very well. I didn’t want to post a picture
incase some of you recognize the jeweler but I guess I must. If
anyone knows the jeweler, please don’t contact him. (A shame my
hands don’t do the ring justice :slight_smile:

-the reaction occurs only on the finger on which the ring is worn,
not adjacent fingers

-the reaction did recur when I switched fingers

-The ring was considerably more than $2500

-from a reputable craft jeweler who participates in high end shows,

-and I doubt it is plated.

The suggestion about the solder is intriguing and I will explore
that more. I am going to the doctor on Thursday. I will contact the
jeweler after the doctor’s appt. to see if he has any suggestions. I
just love this ring and its meaning.

Esta Jo Schifter

1 Like

Hell Esta Jo,

The ring is really unique and lovely. It appears to be aerated so
moisture and so forth is not trapped underneath. My guess is that
the piece is cast rather than constructed with lots of solder, but
you can tell that by close observation.

Will be curious to see what your dr. has to say, but the metal does
seem likely to be the culprit. Do try the clear nail polish on the
metal next to your skin. That may prove helpful, unless the lacquer
itself causes irritation.

Judy in Kansas, where temps are unseasonably warm, so it is
necessary to irrigate!

One more thing that I don’t believe has been addressed on this ring

How is the ring finished inside? Is it highly polished?

Do any stones stick through and touch the finger? Are there any sharp

Sometimes the ring looks like if is well finished on the inside but
there are small burs or sharp edges that can cut and cause

The ring may look well polished on the inside but often edges are
left sharp. Corners, and edges can be sharp after sanding and

I would check all edges under a loupe or with high magnification to
see if any of those edges could be causing irritations. Hollowed
edges or burs left after stone setting can cause small cuts and
irritations. Once edges arerounded, nicks and burs left from stone
setting are removed, it could solve the problem.

Run the tip of your finger on all the inside edges to see if you
feel anything grab or snag or feels sharp. If it does, smooth and
round it out.

Good luck!

Phillip Scott
Graduate Gemologist
Technical Support Specialist
Rio Grande, A Berkshire Hathaway Company

1 Like

Also try removing the ring when you go to bed at night and before
washing your hands or any other wet activities. Allow your hands to
completely dry before putting it back on. Have it deeply cleaned
(professionally if possible, but regularly clean it yourself with Mr.
clean, warm water and a soft toothbrush) on a regular basis. Have the
jeweler youpurchased it from soak the ring in pickling solution for a
few hours as well. Allow the rash to heal completely before trying to
wear the ring again. If you break out right away again after these
steps then it is likely to be an allergy but if the rash develops
after wearing for a time, it is more likely a bacterial cause. Good

maybe the solder is causing it- gold in a high karat in particular
isn’t allergenic UNLESS it is white gold- then the nickel is a known
reaction causing metal. some people react to copper due to their body
chemistries- however, the Orchid archives have pages and pages on
metals and their perceived “allergic reactions”. I would assess
something in your life or environment that is new from a dish-washing
agent, to laundry chemical, paper product or personal hygiene product
before the 18 kt (i presume yellow gold) is “accused” of a crime it
probably didn’t commit !!!..rer

(A shame my hands don't do the ring justice :-\)

Esta, you have beautiful hands. The ring is lucky to have you.

From what you write, and the photo, my first guess would be that all
those nice open gaps could be trapping soaps or lotions or the like,
in minute amounts perhaps, but enough to irritate. The other
possibility that occurs to me, and I cannot be sure from the photo,
would be if those bezel settings were made from a nickel white gold,
which is very common in the U. S. for manufactured findings. If
that’s the case, even though the ring overall is yellow gold, there
could be enough nickel exposure just from the few bezels, to trigger
an allergic reaction.

Of course, if you know they are platinum or palladium or palladium
white gold, then those wouldn’t be the issue. If that IS the issue,
though, it would probably not be an awful job to reset the stones in
platinum or palladium or palladium white gold bezels, without
otherwise disturbing the ring.


My daughter is allergic to gold – gets a rash like you described.
Both her 18K wedding band and ear wires. She makes sure she takes
off her wedding band at night, sometimes needs to give it a break
for a day or two. No gold in her earlobes!

I have so appreciated all the ideas about my lovely ring. I thought
I would answer all the recent comments in one post and incorporate
what happened the doctor said.

-Open rings, aerated rings (is there an industry standard for what
they are called?) are MORE irritating than closed rings because tiny
bits of stuff get under the ring and cause micro-scratches leading
to more irritation.

-We carefully ran our fingers inside the ring and found the inside
highly polished and the stones properly set but that 2 of the
diamond settings were not on the same plane as the rest of the ring
and had nice crisp edges. I figure since I wore the ring for months
with no problem, I could have hit it or just pushed on a bezel and
forced it in. So I will get the ring trued up and soften those crisp

-Nothing in my environment or behavior has changed recently.

-The maker contacted the caster who would not say what was in the
alloy but did say there was an ‘insignificant’ amount of nickel. The
solder used to put on the stone settings is reputable. don’t want to
say the name because it might get a bad rap just being associated
with this topic.

-I wear copper rings all the time. They help with my arthritis pain.

-Will wait to see if creams and reshaping help before allergy
testing for nickel -Don’t understand how pickling will help. Please

Thanks all for your help working on this mystery.

Esta Jo. hot/cold/hot/cold in Philly.

1 Like

I find I have an allergy to the pickle itself, despite a thorough
cleaning, a silver ring I wore gave me problems.

After a good soaking in bicardonate of soda solution the problem
disappeared. I should state that I had thoroughly cleaned the ring
previously and dipped in bicarb but perhaps this solution was not
strong enough or was over saturated with pickle. Perhaps the ring
was dropped hot into the pickle and retains a residue. Just a
thought as most jewellery will at some time meet the pickle pot.

Dave Dillon


I strongly agree with lyndalou22 in that the most likely culprit is moisture getting trapped underneath the ring, whether it be from washing hands or lotion, etc. This same exact thing happened to me with my engagement ring and wedding band, both of which are 18k gold and both stayed put on my finger probably 95% of the time…until I started noticing a red, flaky, ring-shaped rash directly underneath where the rings sat. I went to my dermatologist and it turned out to be a lovely fungal situation (which, while undeniably gross, is incredibly common.) So I just took a little ring-wearing vacation and the rash healed up in about a week or two, then I just became meticulous about only wearing rings after i had completely washed and fully dried my hands, and took them off when i was at home, along with all other jewelry. It helped, no more rash…unless i get lazy. Hope that helps. (:angry:BTW, clear nail polish did not work for me, just peeled and chipped off, no matter what.)