Jewelry Metal Guide- Draft

One of our biggest values here at Rose and Clay is to make sure we only offer high quality hypoallergenic jewelry to our customers. Which is why we are so happy to say that every jewelry piece on our website is completely hypoallergenic! Sometimes we get asked what that means and why we do it, so we put together a guide to explain things and to make your shopping experience a little easier!

Why We Only Use Hypoallergenic Materials:

First of all... "hypoallergenic"…What does this mean?  In the case of jewelry, hypoallergenic means that it is made of metal that is unlikely to cause any allergic reactions. 

Have you ever put on a pair of earrings and your ears started itching after a little while?  Or after wearing them all day your ears are red and irritated?  Well then, you are probably allergic to the metal or something in it. For some people it's a slight allergy with a slight reaction, and for others it's more severe, but either way, I think we can all agree, we would prefer to avoid anything that makes our skin feel uncomfortable. 

Well shoot, you might be thinking... How do I know what metals I need to avoid? And how do I know if a product is safe or not? Fear not!  Together we’ll go over what metals are considered safe for sensitive skin, which aren’t, what metals you can expect in our products, and how to avoid jewelry that will cause allergic reactions.

What metals cause allergic reactions?

By far the most common metal allergy is nickel, which can be found in many metals used in jewelry.  In most cases, a pure metal like gold or silver is too soft or difficult to work with on its own, so jewelers will instead mix it with other materials that have desirable traits.  This is called an alloy, which is used to increase durability, corrosion resistance, and the longevity of the jewelry.  Unfortunately, a common material in metal alloys for jewelry is nickel for its resistance to corrosion and its cheap price. But all hope is not lost!  There are also several brands that decide to be completely hypoallergenic and use higher costing and higher quality materials.

While it is always possible to have a reaction to any metal, other metal allergies tend to be really rare.  Nickel allergies, however, affect somewhere between 10%-20% of people and affect women more commonly than men.  This is why “hypoallergenic” means a low percentage of nickel or nickel free.

So what metals are considered hypoallergenic? 

You can generally trust jewelry made out of sterling silver, gold (especially higher karats!), stainless steel, titanium, rhodium, and platinum.  These precious metal alloys are higher quality so are unlikely to be mixed with a cheaper metal like nickel.  However, it is always a good idea to make sure a piece of jewelry is hypoallergenic even when they’re made out of these metals!  While high quality versions of these metals will be nickel free, lower grades could still include nickel.  Both the type and quality of the metal matter when determining whether a piece of jewelry is hypoallergenic.  

All of the metals we use at Rose and Clay are 100% nickel free so you never have to guess whether a piece of jewelry is safe.  However, this isn’t true at every store.  Because of this, we put together a guide with some common jewelry metals to help you know which metals are more likely to be hypoallergenic as well as other positive traits that help you to decide what works for you.  Some metals have qualities that put them above the rest in terms of durability and longevity, so this is a great guide whenever you’re looking to buy jewelry!

Gold Filled

Gold is one of the most popular metals used in jewelry, so there is a wide range in price and purity.  (There is also a big difference between gold plated and gold filled jewelry, but we’ll cover that in another article!)  Higher karats will have a more lustrous yellow color and resist tarnishing, but be a little less durable than lower karats.  Since gold is so commonly used and can be alloyed with many things including nickel, it is important to check it is hypoallergenic before buying.

Side note: there are also a couple of different color variations of gold that are made using different alloy materials.  White gold uses nickel and zinc, yellow gold uses silver and zinc, and rose gold uses copper.  If you have sensitive skin, you should definitely steer clear of white gold and double check with the seller that their yellow or rose gold is hypoallergenic.

Plated Brass

You won’t find high-quality jewelry made out of solid brass because it will turn green overtime from oxidation, however you can find jewelry with precious metals plated on top of brass.  This can be great because it makes the jewelry significantly cheaper while still having the appearance of fine jewelry.  However, there is also a chance of the metal plating flaking off leaving the brass exposed, making it look less polished.

Stainless Steel

When it comes to jewelry, you can’t get much better than stainless steel.  It's very durable, scratch resistant, tarnish resistant, and has a lovely polished finish.  It is also one of the most affordable on this list, so stainless steel should definitely be added to your jewelry collection!  One thing to keep in mind is the most commonly used type of stainless steel for jewelry does contain small amounts of nickel in it, so anyone with extra-sensitive skin should keep this in mind when shopping and make sure to buy from places that are 100% nickel-free.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is another popular metal for jewelry, mainly for its affordable price.  It’s also very lightweight and consistently hypoallergenic, making it perfect for earrings!  However, it will tarnish over time without proper care and is less durable than stainless steel or rhodium.  It is a great option if you're looking for a white metal on a budget, but other metals on this list are higher quality.

Rhodium Filled★★★★★

If you want high quality jewelry made out of very precious materials, rhodium is the way to go.  Rhodium is among the most reflective white metals used in jewelry and is also extremely durable, scratch resistant, and tarnish resistant.  Another perk is it isn’t mixed with any other metals, so you never have to worry about it containing nickel.  Rhodium is one of the rarest metals in the world, so it will be a bit pricier, however you’ll also have beautiful jewelry that will last a lifetime.


Titanium is known for being strong, but another reason it is great for jewelry is its lightweight.  Titanium is just as durable as stainless steel but about half the weight. Perfect for earrings!  It also is affordable, resists corrosion, and resists scratches.


Tips for shopping for hypoallergenic jewelry

So when I’m looking for hypoallergenic jewelry what are some things to look for? How can I find out what a product is made of and whether or not it's hypoallergenic?  There are a couple of great ways to tell what brands use hypoallergenic materials, even if you don’t remember which metals are hypoallergenic.

Search the Product description

The easiest way to determine whether or not jewelry is hypoallergenic is checking the product description.  There it should list what metal the jewelry is made of and whether it’s hypoallergenic.  Since nickel allergies are so common, lots of jewelry businesses make sure to let the customer know whether their products are nickel free, so be sure to check the description! 

Other notable locations

If a business exclusively sells hypoallergenic jewelry, they’ll be proud of that and make sure potential shoppers know.  Generally they post about it in multiple places on their website and social media, like on their homepage, FAQs, blog posts, and articles.  It’ll be in easy to find places, so keep an eye out for it.  

Red Flags to look out for:

If the product description doesn’t include what metals are used, that’s a red flag!  Not only will you not know whether it is hypoallergenic, you also won’t be able to know how durable it is, whether it resists tarnishing, or if you’re paying a fair price.  There’s a chance it could even contain toxic metals that are harmful to wear for long periods. Don’t ever shop for jewelry that does not disclose its metal ingredients.  

Lots of negative reviews, especially ones complaining about discomfort, could mean that there is nickel in the jewelry.  The most common reactions for nickel allergies is discomfort, redness, and irritation so if customers are complaining about those problems, then nickel in the metal is the likely reason.

For those who love accessorizing with jewelry, it is well worth it to take the extra time and money to shop for hypoallergenic jewelry.  Not only will it help everybody with sensitive skin feel both gorgeous and comfortable, you also get to feel good knowing your jewelry is durable, high quality, and will last the test of time.  Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, you should still consider shopping hypoallergenic.

For a quick and easy way to shop for some beautiful hypoallergenic jewelry, visit us at Rose and Clay.