Seriously if I could have a job where I could wear this outfit to work…

Seriously if I could have a job where I could wear this outfit to work every day, I’d be in heaven.

Seriously if I could have a job where I could wear this outfit to work every day, I’d be in heaven.

I can only wear gold jewelery, everything else breaks out. " How many times did I hear the exact phrase from my mom when I was a kid? Every time I gave her jewelry it was her answer.

Why is anything but gold breaking my mom? Is this statement even true? When I started designing jewelry more than ten years ago, I decided to find out. I wanted to design jewelry for my mom that she could wear without being afraid of a breakout. Now I will let in what I have discovered.

My mother, like many people, develop contact dermatitis when her skin comes into contact with certain types of jewelry. Her dermatitis is the result of an allergic reaction to the nickel found in many types of jewelry. Nickel allergies are very common, in fact one in seven people are likely to suffer from nickel allergy. Most often, women suffer from nickel allergies than men. Allergy treatment can help with the symptoms of nickel allergy. Unfortunately, when the allergy has developed, a person will remain sensitive to nickel for the rest of their lives.

Nickel is found in many types of costume jewelry, especially those that are mass-produced. It can also be found in other everyday objects such as coins, zippers, glasses frames and mobile phones.

So why is my mom allergic to nickel, you may ask. For some reason, which science still does not understand, her body has misplaced nickel (or similar metals as cobalt) as a threat. In response to that threat, her body causes an immune response (aka allergic reaction) to get rid of the threat. This reaction causes her to break out in a itchy rash. But others may have a more severe reaction to nickel.

Now that I knew what was causing my mother's outburst, I tried to find out what types of jewelry did not contain nickel.

First I looked at gold collected. Generally, yellow gold (over 14 carats) will not cause an allergic reaction. However, white gold can. White gold alloys contain nickel and other "white" metals to give their silver color. One in nine people will react to the nickel in white gold.

Another form of gold jewelry is gold filled or "GF" jewelry. Gold filled jewelry metal is created when a base metal is coated with a layer of gold. Gold filling differs from gold plated with the amount of gold applied. The layer used in gold-filled jewelry is usually 50 to 100 times thicker than the layer used to coat gold-plated products.

Then I looked at silver jewelry. For those who are nickel sensitive, fine silver and sterling silver are good choices for "white" metals.

Fine silver is by definition 99.9% pure silver. Jewelry is generally not made of fine silver as the metal is extremely soft and cannot withstand normal wear and tear.

Most silver jewelry is made with sterling silver. Sterling silver is by definition 92.5% pure silver. In most cases, the remaining 7.5% is the metal copper. Copper is infused to harden the silver and make it more durable. I use this type of sterling silver in my jewelry designs, it is an excellent metal for nickel allergic people. Sometimes you can distinguish sterling silver with a "925" mark found on jewelry. This is common on manufactured pieces, but may not be found on craft jewelry.

Some other metals that are considered safe for people with nickel allergies are:

Copper - Copper jewelry is generally considered pure and not mixed with nickel or nickel alloys.

Platinum - Platinum jewelry contains 95% platinum and 5% of a secondary metal typically iridium.

Titanium - Titanium jewelry is both hypoallergenic and durable. It is a highly recommended metal for those suffering from nickel allergies.

Niobium - This is a relatively new metal in jewelry. It is a rare earth metal that can be anodized (naturally coated with beautiful colors). Like titanium, this metal is recommended for nickel allergy sensors, especially those seeking a pop of color.

Since I have given you a list of safe metals, I thought I would also give you a list of metal terms to look out for when shopping for jewelry.

Fashion or costume jewelry usually has base metals containing nickel. Sometimes these metals are plated; however, plating will wear out over time and expose the skin to the base metals. If you choose a plated metal, remember that it needs to be replated regularly.

Some have suggested that brass can be an allergy-friendly alternative. But my research has suggested that brass is sometimes alloyed with small amounts of nickel or even lead to strengthen the metal.

German silver or nickel silver is a metal to keep away from jewelry. German silver contains no silver. The silver refers to the silver staining of the metal. The color comes from a combination of nickel, zinc, lead and tin contained in the alloy.

Surgical or Stainless Steel - Surgical grade stainless steel is made to be in the human body. However, the steel alloy contains between eight and twelve percent nickel. I have heard various reports about how safe this metal is for people with nickel allergies. Since the steel alloy contains nickel, I usually avoid it, but some people swear by it.

If you buy a piece of jewelry and are worried that it may contain nickel, commercial test kits are available online. These kits contain chemicals that react in the presence of nickel.

Doing some research can prevent a nickel allergy attack and still allow you to wear beautiful jewelry.