Metal Allergies: A Guide to Different Types of Metals

Do you have any allergic reaction to your jewelry?


There are people who are allergic to copper and some to nickel. A few others can be allergic to non-pure metal. With metal allergies, it can often manifest as itchy skin, blisters or rashes. As for less pure metals, you would find a dark gray or green color stain on your skin.  Those who have metal allergies can alleviate their symptoms by using pure metals instead of alloy.


Now, having a full understanding on the type of metals contained in the jewelry is essential to minimize allergic reaction. So, if you haven’t had any allergy before, here is our little guide.

Symptoms of metal allergies:


  • Redness, swelling, tenderness, itching, and warmth to the exposed area


  • Blisters and dry patches of skin that resembles a burn appears where the metal has come into contact with your skin.


Plated Metals. Some jewelries are plated with silver or gold over metals like copper and brass to make them more affordable. With this, go for what’s pure as silver plated jewelry can  trigger an allergic reaction. Make sure to check the stamp on the jewelry and look for sterling 925 (92.5% pure). Avoid 14k gold or higher as it can trigger an allergic reaction.


Gold. There are many who think that all gold jewelry is safe when trying to avoid jewelry allergies. Yet there are some types of gold jewelry that contains other metals that may cause a reaction. For white gold, it usually has nickel or other common white metals to achieve its whitest hue. As for yellow gold, it has silver or copper in varying amounts. To minimize possible allergies, choose 14k gold or higher as it can lessen any reaction.


Brass (Copper & Zinc Alloy). Often used as a base metal that has been coated with either sterling silver or gold, brass does have an alloy of copper and zinc. So, if you’re allergic to brass, you are likely allergic to copper. When wearing a necklace or earrings, observe if your skin turns green. If it does, your jewelry more likely has brass in its metal composition.


Nickel & Stainless Steel. Considered as the number one allergen among different metals, the reaction appears as an itchy, red rash with watery blisters where the jewelry comes in contact with your skin. More often than not, stainless steel can trigger a nickel allergy as it has amounts of nickel and iron. It is best to avoid stainless steel if you have hypersensitive skin.


Looking for the perfect piece of jewelry is fun but needing to factor in a jewelry allergy makes it a bit challenging. The guide above will help you with the type of metal that disagrees with your skin.  Now if you’re a jewelry maker, it’s important to include the type of metal being used in the jewelry.  If you’re a jewelry enthusiast and you’re making new purchases, make it a point to check the materials of the jewelry or better yet, use metal-testing kits. Also, make sure to keep your jewelry clean to minimize the risk of infections when allergic reactions occur.

6 thoughts on “Metal Allergies: A Guide to Different Types of Metals

    • Hello Tim. Not very familiar with zinc plating on iron and whether this also causes allergies. I will have to research more on this subject and will share anything I learn about this. Thank you for your comment.

  1. You contradict yourself:

    Avoid 14k gold or higher as it can trigger an allergic reaction.

    To minimize possible allergies, choose 14k gold or higher as it can lessen any reaction.

    This raises doubt on everything you say! Is this a typo, or is there a twist to the story that makes them both true in their own context? Whatever! They can’t both be true.

    • Hello Ray. Thank you for pointing that out. It does look like the statements are contradicting with each other. What we are trying to say is that if one has a known allergy to metals, we suggest to use sterling 925 and avoid 14k gold plated metals or any other plated metals for that matter. But of course this is more expensive. If you are not sure about your metal allergies, to minimize the possibility of allergic reaction, your next option is 14K gold plated metal. I hope this clarifies the statements in this blog. Thank you.

  2. Stirling silver gives me a reaction similar to what you described in the nickel and stainless steel section, I want a 14k gold chain should I consider buying it or would it give me a reaction too?

    • Metal reaction to the skin depends on the individual. I suggest you try a pair of inexpensive old filled earrings or the most inexpensive gold filled chain you can find and see how your skin will react. Trying it on is the only way you will find out if you have not do so before. Pay careful attention to your skin while making this test. Any redness or rashes maybe a sign that you are allergic to the metal.

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