There are people who are sensitive to some jewelry-making materials. In fact, many people that have reactions are allergic to the presence of nickel in metals.
The answer for these people is hypoallergenic jewelry. "Hypoallergenic" means "below normal" or "slightly" allergenic. Jewelry that has been classified as hypoallergenic means it contains little to no potentially irritating alloys. Hypoallergenic jewelry is created using components made from metals such as gold, niobium, stainless steel and titanium. There are a variety of hypoallergenic components and ready-to-wear styles available.
Gold is one of the most commonly used metals in jewelry. Gold that is 14Kt and lower usually contains more nickel. Since gold is a soft metal, the nickel can easily be exposed. Both yellow and white gold above 18Kt are usually safe, although they still may contain some nickel. Fire Mountain Gems offers karat gold in a large selection of jewelry-making components.
Niobium is a marvel metal of the world. Only recently introduced in jewelry components, niobium offers outstanding qualities, including being completely non-reactive with those who have sensitive skin or metal allergies. Check out the variety of niobium products, such as earwires, headpins, eyepins and jumprings, with a few anodized items to create diverse colors.
Known for being highly resistant to corrosion, strong yet easy to work with, and hypoallergenic, stainless steel is a popular metal in the jewelry industry. Stainless steel is made of steel (a mix of iron and carbon), chromium, nickel, and small amounts of other elements. There are different grades of steel, but they can all be worn by most people without allergic reaction. The grade number of stainless steel is what defines the properties of the alloy mixed in; especially the nickel content. Steel that is 304 and 304L grade has a nickel content around 8 to 12% and is the same grade used in the food industry. Steel that is 316 and 316L is made with more resistance to corrosion. These grades have a nickel content of about 8 to 10.5% and are the same grade often used for temporary medical implants and medical tools. The 316L version of stainless steel has less carbon than 316 to provide even higher resistance to corrosion.
Because of its lightweight, durability and corrosion resistance, titanium has become a popular metal for jewelry. Titanium is said to be almost completely hypoallergenic. Titanium does contain nickel; however, it is strongly embedded in the metal so the probability of an allergic reaction is not likely. In some cases, titanium is recommended instead of stainless steel.
Hypoallergenic Stringing Materials
When creating hypoallergenic jewelry, it is important to use stringing materials that are allergen-free. A few options are Accu-Flex® paper cord, Powercord®, as well as silk thread, cord and ribbon. With hypoallergenic capability, these stringing materials can be used to create an array of jewelry creations.
Design with ...
- 18Kt gold beads
- 18Kt gold clasps
- 18Kt gold bead caps
- 14Kt gold chain
- Stainless steel earwires
- Niobium findings
- Niobium wire
- Silk beads
- Accu-Flex paper beading cord
- Silk thread
- Silk cord
- Silk ribbon
We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Hypoallergenic Jewelry-Making Components," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.
"Great article! Thank You!"
"Great information here. Thank you."
"Very interesting article! I will keep the information provided for future use. Great info for making a hypoallergenic jewelry line. Thanks,"
"Very informative and helpful. Gave clear, much needed advise. Thank you"
"Very useful; thanks!"
"I'm surprised that you didn't mention sterling silver components which are nickel free."
"I also use natural brass (Vintaj) which unfortunately you do not sell. I believe that there is also a product similar to a clear nail polish that you can paint on the components to protect your ears from the metal but I have never used it. I have also seen plastic components for ears made by Toho (I bought them at their store in NYC)."
"Thank you for the article on hypoallergenic jewlry materials. My daughter has a bad allergic reaction to metals."
"This was a helpful refresher. Thank you for all you do."
"Can you start carrying hypoallergenic unfinished chains? I cannot seem to find them anywhere and I use chain in many of my designs. I have many clients who are very sensitive to silver and I cannot find a hypoallergenic substitute. Thank you,"
"Thank you for the information on allergies and metals! Do you have the same information on: Copper, brass, silver, sterling, plate and filled; gold 14kt - Filled and Plated and Pewter, wish you had put all the information on the various Metals that are offered by you in one place. Is there a page number I could go to???? It would make everyone's buying so much easier, and you would sell so much more! Thanks again."
"This is an important subject. I know someone who is allergic to nickel. There is good information in this article. Thank you."