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3 Ways to Fix Jewelry Rash

Annabelle / April 7, 2020

It’s always fun to buy new jewelry, but it’s less fun when you find out that it’s giving you an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, it’s very common for people who have sensitive skin to react badly to costume jewelry- and even some fine jewelry as well! So how can you go about wearing your beloved jewelry without tossing it out or giving it to someone else? Here’s how to fix jewelry rash.

What Causes Jewelry Rash?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what causes an adverse reaction when people wear jewelry, but on average most jewelry allergies are triggered by the presence of nickel. This metal is commonly used in jewelry for its chemical properties for strengthening metal alloys or aiding gold and rhodium plating processes. Other jewelry allergies can be caused by other metals such as copper, bronze, or brass, which can also contain nickel at the same time. 

So, how do you wear jewelry that’s been giving you an allergic reaction without chucking the whole thing in the garbage? We have a few solutions to stop jewelry from irritating your skin.

1. Clear Nail Polish

It’s not exactly the most elegant option, but a coat of clear nail polish may prevent an allergic reaction from occurring if you apply it to your jewelry. The only issue is that it can have unexpected reactions if it comes into contact with certain stones, and what it might do to your skin is unclear at best. It’ll also need to be re-applied every so often for it to be effective. This is also not a failsafe solution for individuals who are highly allergic to cheap metal jewelry.

2. Gold & Rhodium Plating

plating-fake-jewelry-rhodium

A pendant before and after rhodium plating.

Gold is naturally hypoallergenic, and putting a layer of gold on top of your jewelry will create a barrier between the metal that’s triggering the allergic reaction and your skin. In order to gold plate your item, the jeweler polishes it, cleans it with several rinses of distilled water, and then places it into a tank full of gold solution. Electricity goes through the tank, bonding the gold to the surface of your item. This process doesn’t affect stones and the gold only sticks to the metal in your jewelry, although it should be noted that soft, fragile natural stones and glue-set rhinestones may need to be removed before the process. 

Rhodium plating is the other solution if you want an item in a silvery white color. Much like gold plating, the process involves several distilled water rinses and submersion in a plating tank. Just like gold, it’s also a hypoallergenic precious metal, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

It should be noted that certain metals such as copper, brass, bronze, or stainless steel require some additional work before plating. This is due to the chemical nature of these metals, as they cannot take the gold plating process without some pre-treatment. Make sure to inquire about what is done to these items before the gold plating is applied, as some jewelers will put nickel as a treatment plating. For a true hypoallergenic plating, it’s best if the jeweler can use palladium instead, another precious metal that will not trigger any negative reactions. 

3. Recreation

how-to-stop-jewelry-from-irritating-my-skin

A sterling silver ring on the left, a broken alloy one on the right.

For some people, a light barrier of nail polish or gold plating will do the trick when it comes to stopping the allergic reaction. However, not everyone has the same sensitivity when it comes to allergic reactions, and some individuals still experience allergic reactions to plated items. 

If you’re absolutely in love with a particular piece, and you can’t wear it no matter what you’ve tried, it’s time to get it recreated in a material that won’t trigger an allergic reaction. The jeweler takes the item, and creates a 3D design to mimic the jewelry. This 3D design is then used to print a wax mold that is used in production to create the jewelry. While this can be an expensive procedure, it’s good for two reasons: if you have an item created in solid gold, you’ll never have to worry about plating it again. Secondly, you won’t have to experience any further allergic reactions due to the new material. 

Now you know how to fix jewelry rash! Whether it’s a quick fix at home, a dip in a hypoallergenic metal, or a custom creation to ensure that your jewelry will always be safe for your skin, you can find a way to prevent your jewelry allergies. Comment below if you want to get started today!

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Susanna

My new copper bracelet is causing my skin to itch, if I have it plated, it won’t help my arthritis which is why I bought it.
Is there another solution?

Catherine

Hi Susanna, We’ll reach out with further details about possible solutions for this!

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