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Super pickle

I have even heard a dermatologist make the statement that sterling
should not be worn by those with nickle allergies, inferring that
the alloy contains nickle.

I came to the conclusion that people wore plated base metal jewelry
that looked like silver, the plating wore off, the person had a
reaction, and “silver” colored jewelry became silver jewelry, and
they were ‘allergic’ to it.

When people tell me they are allergic to silver, I try to find out if
it is sterling, or plated items. Most people do not know if the item
they had a reaction to was sterling or plated.

30 years of making sterling jewelry, I have never had a person
return something because they developed a rash.

I have had women tell me they had a reaction to earwire, both gold
and sterling, and I suggest that they use bacitracin (sp) or
neosporin, put it on the earwire before putting the earwire or post
through the ear, and come back if they still have a problem. When
they try this it seems to solve the problem. Might

just be that inserting the wire with a rough end can irritate the
tissue it is being pushed through.

Some people have a reaction to hypoallergenic jewelry, some to gold,
some to sterling. Yes, occasionally someone does have a reaction to
metal, but it is really so rare.

Just like some people have a reaction to getting a rash under a
ring. If it is cleaned regularly, no problem.

I did have a woman who wore yellow gold rings, one particular ring
caused a rash. I tested it and it was gold. Make no sense, but there
it was. Suggested that she clean it more often. Don’t know if that
solved the problem.

And do not get me started about people allergic to nickel white
gold. I have made quite a few white gold wedding bands over the last
16 years, and I have never had to solve a problem of having a
customer react to nickel white gold.

I have been using an alloy for white gold for several years that
does not need to be plated with rhodium because of the high nickel
content. Not one reation.

**** If men and women are not having a reaction to high nickel white
gold, why would sterling cause a reaction if it did have nickel in it
(which it does not !!!).

So what is the point of all this. You have a customer who thinks
they are allergic to sterling, this person finds a pair of earrings
that she loves, but thinks she can’t buy them. You are like “Oh, yeah
I know some people are allergic to sterling” and no sale.

I am like “I have heard some people think they are. I think some
people have reaction to plated jewelry that is not sterling. If you
really love those earrings, buy them and try them and if you have any
reaction, bring them back for a full refund. I also know some people
who have sensitivity from the earwires being put through the hole, if
you put over the counter antibiotic on the wire that will help.”

I do not get any returns. And I have a happy woman and happy women
are good customers.

Richard Hart

I have even heard a dermatologist make the statement that sterling
should not be worn by those with nickle allergies, inferring that
the alloy contains nickle. 

It’s not just dermatologists who are misinformed. My dog apparently
has an allergy to nickel. Most silver-toned dog collar hardware is
nickel chrome plated. The poor pup breaks out in a rash wherever
metal touches him if he wears a collar with that kind of hardware. My
VET stuffily informed me that the only thing that can cause allergies
are proteins, and that the rash must have been caused something he
ate. Knowing full well that nickel isn’t a protein and that many,
many people are allergic to nickle, my response was WTF? I got the
dog a new collar with solid brass hardware (no plating), and
voila–no more rashes.

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

Nickel will melt/alloy with silver, its call nickel silver, and
although the majority partner in the alloy is nickel the balance
is silver (IIRC~40%). 


There is no actual silver content in nickel silver.

Nickel silver is an alloy of copper, nickel, and sometimes zinc.

The word silver is used in the name only to describe the color of
the metal…

Or maybe to confuse customers, and get them to pay more for it.

type @ you later…



Try this, I can wear all types of junky ear wires, but I can’t wear
sterling or fine silver, my ears will start to swell and get sore in
an hour or so. We had a lady, at our booth, last year that had severe
metal allergies. We gave her a niobium ear wire to see if it would
cause her problems. her ear satarted getting red in less than 10
minutes. She didn’t think that she had ever tried them. Was it a case
of ‘she knew that she was allergic’, I don’t know,.

Cairenn, the Howling Artist


“Nickle silver” also called in the trade " german silver" is a nickel
allow and contains no silver. It can also contaminate your pickling
solution in the same way that iron and steel can. i personally won’t
work with most nickle alloys including white gold as I have had
problems with customers coming back and demanding their money back
when they discover that they have allergies to the metal, essentially
blaming me.

Some people have a reaction to hypoallergenic jewelry, some to
gold, some to sterling. Yes, occasionally someone does have a
reaction to metal, but it is really so rare. 

I started developing reactions to silver after working with it in
college. I can wear rings and necklaces fine, but earrings are like
barbed spikes of pain. My ears turn very red within 5 minutes. It
started happening with gold, too after a few years of working in a
shop with it.

Currently, I can wear argentium without problems- do not know what
would make it less bothersome, but I am fine for about 6-8 hours
before my ears start to feel infected. I will try putting on
bacitracin on them, and I will give my gold another attempt to see,
if that makes a difference. I like to wear my jewelry at shows
because it is an important aspect of selling.


Reference the nickel allergy: just for an aside—do you know there
is the nickel element in chocolate?

Rose Marie in Denver


Many thanks to those who responded to my post - and my apologies for
hasty fact gathering. The crystals or fragments in the now
substantial amount of sludge in the bottom of my pickle pot are a
shiny gray color - I ASSUMED (yes I know) they were silver but upon
closer examination seem to be coated with the same thick grayish
coating that the silver sheet was - hence my labeling them silver.
And they are NOT, in fact magnetic, just extremely fond of each
other. Go figure. I did learn a lot from your replies but in the end
poured the crap into a plastic jar and took it to school to go in
with their hazardous disposal. My NEXT batch of (normal) pickle will
get neutralized and flushed, and I am smarter now than I was last
week, thanks to y’all. Happy Easter!!


Hi James! I always appreciate you sharing your wealth of information with us!
I’ve been essentially in the trad fo 45 years with a fairly long stint in a large factory.
I unfortunately shoot from the hip on a lot of stuff. Things that I remember but might not remember the source. This post is mostly about nickel and super pickle but there was one response regarding disposal of pickle. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that I read that the metas dissolved in pickle can be precipitated out by throwing (gently I’m sure) a handful of nails into the pickle. Are you familiar with this or is it just my old brain misremembering things?