Designing Jewelry for People with Metal Allergies

Mar 4, 2008
 

My son is a rocker. Long hair, tall and skinny, a bit on the pale side, and a beast with a guitar. He's only twelve, and as far as we know, he's steered clear of the, eh hem, unsavory things sometimes involved with rock and roll. But the issue of piercings has come up in conversation. "Not that I'd want to do it yet, but where do you think it would look best?" My goodness. Between panic attacks about what he's doing during a jam session and having to listen to Metallica speed-metal riffs blasting throughout the house, it's no wonder I'm going gray.

Anyway, to stomp out the conversation about piercing his eyebrow, I told him he was allergic to so many things that he's probably allergic to metal, too. That his eyebrow would burst open with blisters and he'd look like the Phantom of the Opera. That kind of squashed his enthusiasm--at least for now.

Do you have or know anyone with a metal allergy? I know it can be a real problem. As a jewelry maker and a jewelry wearer it's obviously a big problem, but some people can be so allergic they react to basic things like soil, cement, ocean water, and leather, let alone zippers, buttons, and dental fillings! I'm sure it's a constant pain in the ***.

After making the "your skin will bubble like a pizza" comment to my son, I actually got curious and read up a little on metal allergies. I was surprised to learn that it's right behind poison ivy as a culprit to contact dermatitis, so it's more common than I thought. Nickel and cobalt are among the most common problem makers, and they are found in just about all of the metal beads and findings readily available to beaders.

Where does he get it? 

Take note:

  • Copper and brass beads and findings often contain a very high concentration of cobalt and nickel.

  • Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other alloys, including copper and nickel.

  • Gold is probably the least allergenic of the metals beaders often use, but it also has some trace of copper or silver in it. The higher the karat number, the less the amount of alloys, but if you're really allergic to metal, you might want to be wary of this one, too.

So what to do? I'm not a doctor (nor play one on TV), but here are some tips that might help:

  • Try painting three or more coats of clear nail polish on your metal findings and beads to keep the metal away from your skin. Do a test run before you put too much effort into the project to make sure this will work.

  • If you love to string beads, keep in mind that most flexible stringing wire is made of nylon-coated steel. Steel is made of iron, so you may be okay if you're only allergic to things like nickel and cobalt. The wire's nylon casing should help, too.

  • Consider other materials for stringing. The obvious one is pleather (plastic + leather), especially if you're allergic to the metal in leather. (Metals are sometimes used to tan leather and people with severe allergies can react to the traces left behind.) Macramé is also an option—it's come a long way since the 1970s (check out Joan Babcock's or Sandy Swirnoff's work to see) and can be very delicate. Knitted and crocheted jewelry is all the rage right now, and you could experiment with ribbon and colorful thread, too.

  • Instead of using flexible stringing wire, get out a needle and thread. Most needles are made of steel, so chances are you'll be okay handling it. If a steel needle is still a problem for your fingers, try one of those plastic dental flossers meant for cleaning under dental work. (You can get them at the grocery store next to the regular dental floss.)

  • Learn how to make a button/loop clasp. Use glass, nut, pearl, or other natural materials as the button (you can also use a large bead for this). If you're using beading wire to make it, this type of clasp doesn't require a metal finding other than a crimp tube, and if you use a larger bead on each side of the crimp, the metal might be lifted away from your skin just enough to not bother you. If that method doesn't work, just use needle and thread to make the clasp. If you do this method, be sure to tie several knots between beads and pass through the connection a bunch of times to reinforce the beadwork.

  • Make beaded beads and use them instead of metal ones. If your allergy isn't too strong, you might be able to get away with using silver- or gold-lined seed beads, and you'll still get that metallic look.

Do you have any other tips for metal allergy-suffering Beading Daily readers? Write in! In the meantime, I better go downstairs and yell for the bazillionth time, "TURN IT DOWWWN!" 


Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!



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Comments

ekhernandez wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 10:17 AM
I have found that most of my metal sensitive clients can wear Niobium ear wires. Niobium findings and wire are available online.

sam
eclectic-elements.com
ekhernandez wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 10:17 AM
I have found that most of my metal sensitive clients can wear Niobium ear wires. Niobium findings and wire are available online.

sam
eclectic-elements.com
Marph wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:07 AM
Nickel free is hard to find, but I actually found some nickel free earring wires at Joann's at one point!! My best friend has a nickel allergy, so imagine my woe at not being able to shower her with my jewelry! lol. I make a lot of peyote toggle clasps for her!
LindaP@119 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:11 AM
Hi
I have a nickel allergy and have fortunately been able to find a couple of places, here in the UK, that sell titanium earwires to make my own earrings. I may try niobium - thanks Sam eclectic!
Thyme2dream2 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:11 AM
My sons and I all have mild nickel allergies-no bubbles and boils, but definate zipper rashes and I have always had to use cords rather than chains for necklaces. As I began to work with wire wrapping, I discovered that copper craft wire poses no problems for me...also the "non-tarnish" Artistic Wire causes me no trouble at all. I am not sure if that is the non-tarnish coating or what, but it works for me!
Karla Thyme2dream.com
on Mar 5, 2008 11:12 AM
My mom is allergic to nickel and has me order earring findings for her at simply whispers.
AngelaD@24 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:19 AM
My ears are super sensitive and I have always envied people who could wear less than 14K earrings...Then I discovered Allergy Shield. Now I have lots and lots of beautiful earrings and a fraction of the costs.
SusanA@91 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:21 AM
I have a pretty strong allergy to nickle, and have found pewter works great for me! I get the look and weight of metal, but not the rash, boils, and bubbles! Clasps, charms, and beads all wear well either around my neck and on my wrists - I stay away from earrings altogether.
JudyO@14 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:22 AM
If you are having a reactin to Sterlind Silver try using fine silver wire. The silver content is pure. You can also make your own beads from PMC which after being cooked is 99.9% silver although quite a bit more costly it does make for some beautful projects.
Judy O
KatherineH wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:25 AM
I have a nickel allergy (it's how I got into beading, actually), and have noticed the following "weirdnesses":
* I'm far more sensitive in hot weather than in cold. Likewise, if something is resting lightly on my skin and moving around (say, a pendant), I'm usually okay with it, but if it's in a high-contact area (wrist, ring finger, clasp at back of neck) I'll get a reaction.
* the nail polish trick must be reapplied regularly to continue working
* I can wear cheap fish-hook style earrings for about a day without any problems, but not post-and-backing earrings. After the day with the cheap fashion earrings, though, I *must* switch back to silver for at least a couple of days.
* Speaking of silver: I have a better time with it than with gold. I think because it's cheaper and more practical to get high-grade silver than high-grade gold. Wearing 10k gold is the same as wearing cheap steel next to my skin in terms of allergies.

So, if you're making a piece for someone else, check what quirks their own allergic reactions take -- they may actually be okay with something they're technically allergic to, so long as they know they're technically allergic to it.
SusanC@117 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:27 AM
Another option, especially for earrings, is to use niobium. Posts and earwires made of this can be purchased in a variety of colors as well.
Susan
malexander33 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:36 AM
I learned to my surprise that surgical steel also has nickel in it. Niobium is a good choice for ear wires. some companies sell niobium wire so you can make your own findings.

for bracelets, add a fabric or ultrasuede "lining." this can also be done for some sections of some needlewoven necklaces, but this style tends to take a LONG time to make.

this column has discussed nickel allergies, but has everyone noticed the new regulations about lead content in California? Jewelry for children must have a VERY low lead content. Adult jewelry can have a somewhat higher lead content but still very low. the certification process is fairly onerous. ANYONE who sells jewelry via the internet MUST post a warning about lead content on their website, because California's laws require this. you may live in upper Maine, but your website could be accessed by someone living in CA, so the lead content info must be on your site.

Swarovski has tested its crystals in accordance w/ California's laws and has found that the lead content in its crystals is NOT released via contact w/ skin. However, some other swarovski components, like the rhinestone chain, might have some lead content. I have not checked w/ Swarovski about its other components. But when I wrote to the company about its crystals I received a reply in less than 12 hours, so they are fully prepared to answer all questions.

Jean, thanks for the tip that some leather has traces of metal. I didn't know that.
Mary
Joey@3 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:52 AM
I use Argentium Silver for my allergic friends and it works. Also lots of beaded clasps and toggles.
Joey
on Mar 5, 2008 11:54 AM
This morning I posted two new articles about the California laws regulating lead in jewelry at http://jewelrymaking.bellaonline.com.

California law does not require that everyone post a warning about lead on her website - at least not as far as I can tell. (If that law is out there, please send me a link to it.) Prop 65 does not apply to businesses employing fewer than 10 employees.

As for copper and brass - I don't think that solid copper or brass contain nickel, do they? The problem usually occurs when the metal is an alloy (mixture of base metals), or is merely plated.

It's always been my belief that sterling silver should not contain nickel either - it should be an alloy of silver and pure copper. But - I have broken out in a rash a number of times from jewelry that was advertised as sterling silver, so I suspect that something is going on with that. (!)

I agree with everyone who recommended niobium to avoid allergies - it's a little pricey, but it really does seem to be hypoallergenic.

Chris
beadjewelry.net
ShelleyD@10 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:56 AM
Hi, From Rasarocks!
I have allergies to the alloys often used in silver and gold, so I'm working and designing with the Shiana silver (99.9%) pure, and the gold vermeil which is 2 microns of 24 k over the silver, with 1 micron 18 k on top for strength.
I am pleased to report that my lips are no longer sore, and my eyes are not irritated.
Allergies are very common, I've had my dentistry redone to remove mercury.
I now tell buyers that the silver is non-toxic, and the only one that approaches being hypo-allergenic.
Hope this info helps.
Cheers, Rasarocks
ElizaS@6 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 11:59 AM
Thanks for posting this! I've never heard of anyone with such severe allergies as to not be able to touch crimp beads and such, but I have a minor allergy. Clasps and rings give me rashes if they're not gold or white gold, but I can wear sterling silver rings. I'm also allergic to the button on my jeans! I've had to find some tricky ways to where I could still wear them every day without gettign a reaction. Anyways, thanks again for posting this because people without allergies don't realize what a problem it is. :)
on Mar 5, 2008 12:01 PM
Jean, my son went through this too. "No" just would make it more enticing, so I suggested he do "whatever" in a place on his body that would be covered by a short sleeved T-shirt and shorts. He did, and today he is very thankful. Pam Glendinning
Happibooker wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:02 PM
I also was going to steer you towards niobium but see a couple of others have mentioned it. You can get it in several colors and make your own clasps to use with cord or pleather or ribbons. Also try surgical steel, some people with allergies can tolerate this too.

Cheryl C
SusanL@126 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:07 PM
People who are highly allergic to nickel may not even be able to touch a door knob or plumbing fixture without painful skin rashes. There are inexpensive test kits available that you can carry in your purse. I read somewhere recently that white gold is made 'white' by plating with nickel or rhodium (I believe my memory serves me correct!).

Sue Laing
on Mar 5, 2008 12:14 PM
Excellent point about white gold - it does contain nickel!
bodhikt wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:42 PM
There are also nylon earwires... especially nice for kids' jewelry (come in colors) and priced like base metal.

Re: sterling silver. In the US, it can't contain nickle, but some foreign countries allow it.

Re: high carat gold-- to get the look, etc. without the very high price-- try vermeil. As long as it is not used where it gets excessive wear, it maintains the gold look... and if it does wear off... you still have sterling silver. I gave my sister some earrings several years ago, of which the earwires were vermeil versions of Bali silver; she wears them frequently, and even the wire parts are still "gold". On the other hand, a couple of hook & eye clasps I use are starting to look "two-toned".
KrisH@12 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:47 PM
Wow - quite a list of comments already - the fingernail polish trick - doesn't work all that well - I'm pretty allergic to nickle - can do silver but not silver plated - Even surgical steel doesn't work -my daughter has the same problems. I'll have to check out the niobium.
I don't believe that white gold is plated with nickle - From the Zales web site: "White gold has the same properties as yellow gold, but it has been mixed with different metals to give it a white color. Instead of the copper and silver used in yellow gold, white gold contains such metals as nickel, zinc, or even platinum. However, white gold should not be confused with platinum, which is much rarer than gold and hence more valuable." I think the best white gold is usually with platinum - and of course more expesive.
Terry_22560 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:48 PM
Yes, I am a firm believer in Niobium - have never had any problems with this material and it comes in so many neat colors! - Aleta
Betsy@24 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:49 PM
I have a documented metal allergy to nickel. My allergist gave me some interesting information. Many people react to the concentration of nickel in objects. That's why you may react to some items and not others. "Cheap" items from China tend to have a higher concentration of nickel and other base metals. There have been cases of severe illness just from using cheap flatware to eat with. One more reason to carefully check the country of manufacture of items if you or a loved one are sensitive.
DorrieS wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:50 PM
I have allergies to gold and silver and found that nickel and stainless steel are the only metals I can wear without breaking out in a rash. Even my rings can cause irritation, but I wear them. I wear as little as possible as far as necklaces, bracelets and earrings, but I am a seed bead and glass bead hobbyist, so I can wear what I make.
One comment on you and your son, in my house, I raised my girls with a "Do as I say, not what I do" type discipline. (I know, double standards, so sue me). Thankfully, they are well rounded and grown up, but I am so glad only ears got pierced, more than once, mind you, but hey..........By the way, I don't think your little pic will give him to many ideas. LOL But, then again, hmmmmm.......I am sure your son will make the right choices......
HazelB@9 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 12:55 PM
In addition to niobium, another allergy-free metal is titanium.
on Mar 5, 2008 1:05 PM
This is really a parenting comment. Tell your son he has to wait until he is 15 to get any pierces. He may forget about it. If he doesn't, let him pierce what he wants to. Pierces grow up--tattoos are forever.
Nicole@71 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 1:31 PM
Both my mother and I have a severe allergy to Nickel. We own a bead store in Plymouth, Ma and garantee all our wearable findings as Nickel-Free. If you have any trouble finding nickel free sterling findings we can ship them to you from our store. Please call us at 508-747-9222. www.notsimplybeads.com Thanks, Nicole
AnnaH@36 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 1:32 PM
I have coated some of my pieces with clear nailpolish or Clear Kryolin spray.
Ann Tenn.
SueJ@34 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 1:42 PM
What about Niobium, how does this work with alergies??
Kelli@23 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 1:46 PM
I found some non-metal toggle clasps in the Fire Mountain Gems catalog. They're made of onyx and quartz. I also made a toggle bar out of a long keshi pearl.

As for your son, I told my son he could do his hair anywhichways he wanted, as it could grow out, but piercings and tattoos are forbidden. After he got tired of his mullet tail, he cut it off and handed it to me!--Kelli P.
KaraB wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 2:35 PM
Well, so far I am sensitive to everything but titanium and platinum! But while doing chain maille, I discovered that the polymer car wax I used to polish my pieces also kept the metal from irritating my skin. For people with chemical sensitivities, beeswax should work as a barrier too, although not as a polish; it's better for earring findings.
SarahK@44 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 4:02 PM
Titanium and niobium ar both available as wire too, so you can make your own findings, or buy them from someone who does!
LindaP@117 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 5:15 PM
Both my daughter and I suffer from severe metal allergies. I make a lot of stretchy peyote cuff bracelets using the large delicas and elasticity. I also use jewelry components from Simply Whispers and have good luck so far with the Niobium earwires available from my local bead shop.
Beads14 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 5:20 PM
These days manufacturers really cater to our metal sensitivities. So many findings are now sold with the label 'nickel-free' usually made from tinned brass or silverplated tin. Making ones own earring wires from coated (plastic coated in metallic hues) copper wire is also a great option...I should know, I'm super allergic to metals. Before only 18 kt gold earwire was my option. Too expensive for the average beader, opt for the coated copper...it doesn't tarnish.
B. King wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 5:58 PM
Dear Jean, Love your advise on beading. Although my first love is silver work I am seeing so much good bead work in your newswmails that am thinking of doing a bit of beading. About allergies, I am 54 now and had a round ring put in my navel about five years ago. It never really healed and kept getting infected so when my daughter went to get a tattoo I got one of the navel rings that has a slight curve and two gems in it. My navel healed up in a matter of weeks. So although I got it done by a proffetional I was not told that I may have a problem. As to your son tell him he lookes so normal and just like all the other kids out there he will start to think he is not so different and nobody is really takeing any notice of his get up. Find this often works with the grandchildren.
Love and light to you
Brneda
jcbeadsinfo wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 6:07 PM
Having seen this: "For ear wires, we recommend using only gold, gold-filled, sterling silver, or copper wire. We do not recommend using any colored wire because the dyes in the wire can be carcinogenic if worn for a prolonged period of time." at the wigjig.com site, I have avoided making earwires out of colored copper wire. But the artisticwire.com site doesn't say anything about this health concern and has design instructions specifically calling to make earwires from their products (the same wire that wigjig carries). Does anyone have any solid information about the safety of using color coated copper wire for earwires?
Bsiemens wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 6:25 PM
Niobium is the way to go, if you have someone who is very allergic to metals. It is the metal used by the body piercing industry as our body tissues will react least to niobium than any other metal. But, just a note of clarity. Sterling Silver (925) has 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, nothing else. Check GIA if you are unsure. There are other silvers, but for it to be called sterling the ingredients are only silver and copper. Further, gold does not have nickel in it unless it is white gold. It is important to know the alloys that help give these precious metals their colour and malleability. Not everything has nickel in it.
DawnS@45 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 6:28 PM
I work for a Chiropractor & we decensitize to alot of things including metals. M.D.'s don't believe in it but I've seen it work tons of times (including on myself). No needles or pain. Go to www.NAET.com. Easy sight to get around on. You can find a Doc in your area to go see. We're in SD, but I know there is a lot of Docs out there doing this. Good Luck.
Seodora wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 6:37 PM
Just be careful that the nail polish you are using to coat the metal parts,DOES NOT have Formldehyde in it = a worse reaction than just a metal allergy.
WendyS@56 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 7:11 PM
I not only have allergies to nickel, but also to plastics among a whole host of others. i learned a long time ago that i can't even do the plated or otherwise coated nickel metal. my chemical makeup eats through this and i still end up with reactions. USE sterling silver or solid 24K gold is my advice. the intense itch and pizza skin is just not worth it for a few hours of a look and if i do it for longer, my reaction is more severe.
DoP wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 7:12 PM
I am told by a good jeweler that most silver made in the US of A does NOT contain nickel. I have found that the Asian variety is usually reactive to my skin, but that silver made in the United States, particularly that made by the Indian tribes, creates no problem.
Titanium is a wonderful choice for allergic people. However, even if the jewelry is made of it, I sometimes have a problem with the material used in it to make the clasps attach to the bands. That must be made of something else. AND – even in fine gold, the clasps create a problem because there is usually some alloy added to the “innie” part to make it stronger than the rest of the piece, and that breaks me out, usually just in hot weather. I am guessing it travels to my skin when I perspire.
Ann M4 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 7:25 PM
In Costa Rica last December, I learned from two ladies (one a biologist from Costa Rica and the other a Cuban teacher now living in the US) that if you wet your fingers with your own saliva and rub it into the ear lobe (or other pierced part), your sensitivity to certain metals used in ear posts, etc. will disappear. This is folk wisdom handed down in their families and they swear it works.

Ann (Hampton, Virginia)
karevan wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 7:58 PM
DEAR JEAN, THANKS FOR YOU ARTICLE ON METAL ALLERGIES. MY GRANDDAUGHTER HAS SEVERE METAL ALLERGIES AND I'VE BEEN MAKING HER BEADED JEWELRY FOR ABOUT 5 TO 6 YEARS, MAKING BEADED TOGGLES WHICH WORK VERY WELL, EVEN WITH SILVER LINED BEADS, SHE HAS NEVER HAD AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO MY JEWELRY.
KarenL@78 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 9:26 PM
I have a severe allergy to metals which I found out when I dyed my hair. Withing hours my scalp split and began leeking. That night I found myself passed out on the bathroom floor. I have always been unable to wear earings as my ears would absolutely balloon within minutes of putting them in. The nail polish idea does work to some degree and there are some creams on the market that you can coat your earing in before you put it in. Strangely enough, I have found that I can wear the cheap earing wires you buy at Walmart for hours - Who knew!
LindaHenry2 wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 9:49 PM
I also have allergies to nickel, but read that it can be introduced into your system if you have your ear pierced with the "gun" piercing. My ears would bleed and be red for days after just a few hours of wearing anything with nickel. I found great earrings listed as hypo-allergenic at Target and they have been life savers, although cannot find the same ones anymore. Also, I have tried the hypo-allergenic fishhooks available at Hobby Lobby and Michaels and they have worked great for me - maybe they will be OK for others too. As for piercings, my son got his ears pierced at 16, but now has giant holes (now 23 and is convinced they will close up if he takes them out --NOT). Drove my husband nuts, but for me life is too short to worry about his ears, he is a wonderful son who also loved Metallica and now is into quiet New Age type stuff so tastes change! Just let your son know though that if he wants to get a job later on that many establishments, especially dealing with food may not allow any piercings, or at least they have to take them out when working.Happy Beading
on Mar 5, 2008 11:36 PM
Simply Whispers catalog/web site has surgical stainless steel jewelry. In many hypoallergenic earrings the post is stainless steel, but the front of the earring isn't, causing problems. Simply Whispers makes the whole thing with the ss steel. They keep adding more items every year.
on Mar 5, 2008 11:51 PM
Several of my regular clients, including my sister, have nickel allergies. If the allergies aren't too severe, sterling silver and gold-filled jewelry will work. Sometimes surgical steel will be okay, but as someone mentioned, there are some "surgical steel" earring findngs out there that do contain nickel. Titanium and niobium seem to be fine for people with nickel allergies. I've recently heard of a website that has jewelry and findings for people with allergies: www.simplywhispers.com . I haven't tried them out yet, but it looks like a possibility if they'll sell wholesale.
on Mar 6, 2008 1:35 AM
Oh wow, so many comments. I suffer from metal allergies, too. Sometimes even the gold I've purchased has caused a reaction. From scanning the responses I see a lot of things I've been doing, so will try not to repeat. I've been using seed beaded toggles and have been experimenting with polymer clay toggles and closures, but mostly try to make necklaces long enough to avoid using a clasp at all. Great reaction from everyone. I'll be back to read more of these responses later. ;-)
roheis wrote
on Mar 6, 2008 1:52 AM
I make jewelry to sell to the other students at my college. Several of my best customers are allergic to metal. No problem... I make their rings and bracelets out of glass beads with no metallic parts or paint, and string them on strong elastic cord. A surgeon's knot and a dot of glue keep it all together. My customers are thrilled! For necklaces, I use waxed cotton cording or pleather, and use knots to hold beads in place instead of crimps. I use two sliding knots for length adjustment (just like the old Friendship Bracelets had). No metal needed!
PeppinaP wrote
on Mar 6, 2008 5:09 AM
Thanks for the tips about niobium and titanium. I have a friend who is only able to use gold. She finds it a bit boring. I have made her three sets of matching necklaces and bracelets, using thin rubber cord for bracelets so no clasp is required. For necklaces I use cord and use buttons and beaded links for clasps. I mix felted, bead-decorated beads, glas beads and fimo beads. Peppina, Finland
on Mar 6, 2008 5:35 AM
My sister is highly allergic to metal..had to get a special waiver while in the Air Force because she couldn't wear her dogtags. She's able to wear high quality gold, but I'm not a goldsmith, I'm a beader..so when I make her jewelry, I just make sure to use beaded toggles for closures. Thanks for the niobium tip, I'll give it a shot and experiment on her! BTW, Beadbabe.com has some really neat glass toggles...a bit pricey, but an option. I imagine that anyone could create their own toggle with either a glass or gemstone donut and...um something that will fit through it and stay there...any ideas??
SalD2 wrote
on Mar 6, 2008 7:28 AM
Hi, I am allergic to metals too, but have now discovered titanium earrings and other ones with different colours, which I cannot recall the name of at the moment. Titanium is good though!
on Mar 6, 2008 9:51 AM
Hi Jean,

i have two rock mad twin daughters. Two things, generally children who listen to the rock and indie genres of music, are a little brighter, and less likely to go down the dreaded druggie road. My hubby and I have always encouraged the kids to bring their pals home, and be open- great bit of psychology- you know where they are!

Secondly my daughters have piercings- 1 a lip ring, the other a nose stud- they are quite allergic, but most body jewellery is hypoallergenic, and titanium is often used, and occasionally plastics. Hope this helps.

Love and Light

Chrisx
CaitieW wrote
on Mar 6, 2008 9:56 AM
use surgical steel. most people are not allergic to it, it's fairly easy to find,it's inexpensive, and it doesn't look cheap, so it has a nice finish
Vstar3 wrote
on Mar 6, 2008 3:28 PM
Hi Jean,
You didn't say anything about Niobium. I understand that there is no nickel in it, and it come sin several great colors.
Happy Beading!
Vicki Star
vickistar.com
Le AnnH wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 1:10 AM
hi, I'm very sensitive to many things , metals , plastic , latex ,chemicals ,
soaps & lotions , certain
preservitives & foods, etc.
My skin has a high acid content. So I have to be Very careful, coating metals withnail polish wouldn't work for me.I wear mainly real 18-24ct gold or fabric
beaded kind of jewerly. Just wearing for a short time & not all day long & never over night is the best choice
Be very careful if you think someone might have a problem
I wore Lance Armston/Livestrong band & had such a bad reaction you'd never belive the rash,
swelling & 2 doctors office visits to get treatment & meds. Now we know I can't even wear a hospital ID band. Hopefully no one would ever have to go through what happened to me . Please be careful & good luck to anyone who has allergies or young children who might.
Hand made jewerly can be so much fun , just use a little caution. Le Ann Hamby
JudyT@37 wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 5:43 PM
I have read these comments with great interest, since I have fought metal allergies for all my life. One good doctor introduced me to a cream called Lidex. It is sold by perscription only and is quite pricey if you don't have medical insurance. I have tried the generic version, which is okay, but does not have the same quick results as the name brand. This cream is made for metal allergies, and stings and burns when you put it on, but the next morning the rash will be much better. I would suggest it to anybody with allergies, especially those that have "belly button itch", caused from the snaps on jeans. (I have found that most snaps come off and you can just put a button in it's place)
on Mar 11, 2008 1:19 PM
This is a great article and exactly why I started to get into beadwork. I have a lot of nice jewelry (gold and silver) that I just cannot wear because of my metal allergy. Another great closure to try for the allergy prone is the peyote toggle bar. There are several patterns and variations of it available on the internet. I haven't worn earrings in years because of my allergy but I have heard that niobium does not irritate most metal allergies if you can find it made into findings. This is the only company that produces earring findings that I can wear : http://simplywhispers.stores.yahoo.net/earreplacables1.html
JemaH wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 5:02 PM
polymer clay can make great faux bali silver tpe beads.. use black clay extruded from a clay gun to decorate beads then rub with silver coloured mica powder... you can also cover toggle clasps with polymer clay and make your own loop and toggle clasps ;0
I believe precious metal clay is 99% or similar pure silver, much higher percentage than sterling, so things made from that may be fine too.....
www.jemahewitt.co.uk
angelito313 wrote
on Mar 14, 2008 9:04 PM
One of my friend's daughter had her eyebrow pierced and after a few days noticed that the area started jutting outward as if it were being pushed from the inside out, needless to say it was becoming painful and got to the point that my friend took her to the physician. He mentioned seeing cases like this in the emergency room, the girl's body was regecting the earring and pushing it outward, she is now scarred on her eyebrow, it's unsightly and no she didn't get her money back for the piercing. I've heard of belly button piercings gone bad too. My niece has her cheek pierced , I believe they call it a Marilyn Monroe, meant to be a bling-bling beauty mark it does look kinda cute, but I'm too old for that stuff......thank goodness
janjan2440 wrote
on Jan 5, 2009 9:49 AM
I got into making jewelry because of my severe nickle allergy. Think the bubble pizza look on steroids. Fine sterling silver wire works great for making ear wires & wire wrapping projects. I have also found gold filled 14/20 wire @ Rio Grande that's 100% nickle free...Amazing product! Good luck with more ideas.
ConnieG@19 wrote
on Jan 5, 2009 12:40 PM
No one has spoken about watches for those with metal allergies. My oldest daughter, Erin, used to have trouble wearing cheap earrings of any sort. Now, she can wear inexpensive earrings and necklaces, but hasn't found a watch yet that she can wear. she tried the nail polish and other tricks, but I've finally found a design on Fire Mountain Gems' site for an upside-down watch that hang on a special Kilt pin! Yea!!
JudyT@38 wrote
on Jan 5, 2009 4:58 PM
How about Resin beads? They are made from a type of plastic, but have no metals at all. Because of the large holes, they can be strung on non-metal cords & fibers. They can be embellished with just about anything, so for those that want a little extra bling, you could paint, stamp, wrap, engrave etc. The color is on the inside, thus the color pigments will not be touching the skin either. Its fun to find new things that are good substitutes,maybe this will help those with allergies. Judy
deb 1 wrote
on Jan 10, 2009 7:11 AM
I have suffered with nickel allergy since I was 16 and pierced my ears with cheap earrings! I am now 56 and some things I have discovered: Zippers and rivets will break me out unless there is something between them and me. theringlord.com sells nickelfree surgical steel fishhook earrings. Pure copper wire- make it into anything and clean it with ketchup! I can wear any watch [Cheap or uber expesive} for 1 year with a stainless steel back and stainless steel band IF it fits loosely on my skin- sweat and water either break it down or transmit the nickel to the skin easier? I often buy a cheap watch, coat the back with several layers of clear nailpolish, and make my own band of beads or chainmaille [again loose fitting]. I can wear pure silver[fine silver], argentium silver, aluminum, 14 kt gold[but not 14k rose or green gold!]. Quite often the main component of a piece will be in its stated material But a part of the clasp or hinge of an earring will not be and that portion will break me out- sometimes I can coat it with polish but often not. Sometomes I can wear a piece if I put cortaid on the skin it touches and be able to wear it for a few hours or a day. Some Stainless steel I can wear and some I can"t So if I can't easily return it, I don't buy it. Many European countries have a ban on nickel in jewelry but I haven't found a supplier for those wanting only small amounts of supplies. Good luck...DDS
deb 1 wrote
on Jan 10, 2009 7:29 AM
I forgot to tell you that I can't wear plated things-even 18k over silver. Often nickel is used in the plating process and some remains. Similar reactions with platinum over silver, rhodium over silver. Black Hills gold is also bad for me...dds
Sheila H wrote
on Mar 22, 2009 8:15 AM
My sister in law is allergic to gold as well. She has to coat all jewelry with finger nail polish if she is going to wear it for very long. On a side note: My son will be going to college to get an audio arts degree to record/produce music. I understand about the blaring music. However, I will miss my nightly concerts when he is 250 miles away. **sigh** He celebrated his 18th birthday with spiderweb tatoos on both elbows. I agree that the piecing can be taken out as long as it is one that he does not stretch then it is plastic surgery. My son has had a mohawk, dyed his hair half black half platinum blonde and right now half black half fire engine red. But it is just hair and it will grow back and can be dyed again. So enjoy it while you can! It may be a phase but for my son it will hopefully be a career. ( And maybe some day he will be thankful that his parents were SO understanding! )
Barb@223 wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 6:28 AM
I have purchased chains and earring materials that are nickel free from WHISPERS.COM. They also have other basic materials besides their own jewelry.
Ashley_cf21 wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 7:44 AM
My Parents tried to pierce my ears when i was two. long story short i have had them done 6 times to figure out what i could and could not wear as far as the metal. I found out that i am verry allergic to any metal but gold. I have found that the only metal i can wear is any gold and any hypo-alergenic. i have found that i dont know what sort of material the stuff at wal-mart sells but i have had no problems with the earring stuff there. i think they are hypoalergenic. not sure but hope that helps.
popnicute wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 8:34 AM
i have made jewelry from scrap fabric that would both look cool and hypo allergenic. there are copper wire that's coated that could be used as an alternative too :) www.popnicute.com
on Aug 4, 2009 2:55 AM
To save money you can buy an earwire tool from a few places, and some raw niobium wire for about $10/10' and make up a TON of raw niobium ear wires, it handles about the same as sterling silver does as far as strength. I cut mine with flush cutters from xuron without problems. The other option is to buy pre-made titanium earwires; titanium & niobium are the two metals I've never had anyone say they've reacted to. Had a customer just this weekend say she was letting her holes close due to allergies; had never heard of either metal for ear wires...made one out of niobium, let her try it for the day; she said 2hrs would be enough to tell. She bought 4 pair for her other earrings as a result & will buy more soon... Others have said enameled copper or 'craft wire' works too, the non-tarnish silver/gold, and many creative colors if cut well, will eliminate any copper touching the skin. It takes a LOT of wear to go through the enamel coating on good EC like parawire, or those sold by theringlord.com
Leesha26 wrote
on Jul 22, 2010 9:03 PM

Hi,

There are so many posts here about allergies. I too suffer from metal allergies. I wanted to tell you about the success I found with a jewelry coating. I used to use clear nail polish to coat my jewelry but it would chip off soon after. I bought this coating off the internet for 60$ for one bottle. One is supposed to coat all of the jewelry you own. I tried it on my earrings, etc and it is amazing. I haven't suffered from any reactions and it has been months since I coated it. It is a Japanese product but they can ship anywhere. Here is their website: www.glassskin.net

Good luck everyone! And I hope this works for you as well as it did for me.

adamguru wrote
on Dec 27, 2010 8:56 AM

there are some people they have metal allergy and because of that sometime they have limited choices as well. titanium is one of alternative to that.

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cjsnecklaces wrote
on May 4, 2013 5:33 PM

Or you could try something new and different that doesn't have metal like my adjustable crocheted ladder ribbon necklaces:  www.cjscrochetednecklaces.com