Peggy Woon is a GIA-accredited jeweler; now a retiree, she was in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years. For 28 years, she and her business partner co-owned the Silver Lining Jewelry store in Oakland, Calif. Today, she spends her time spoiling 3 grandchildren and 2 German Shepherds, as well as volunteering with local non-profits. Unable to stay away from her first passion, she can also be found working the jewelry counter at the Oakland Museum of California’s White Elephant Sale and occasionally at Given Gold Jewelers on Piedmont Avenue.
When I was growing up, I’d often visit my mother at her jewelry shop in Oakland where I had the opportunity to watch her speak with customers about what pieces were the best fit for their specific needs; how to wear and repair items; and – once in awhile – I’d hear her speak about how to remedy a potential allergic reaction. Today, we’re sharing a few FAQs about allergic reactions to jewelry that came up over the years.
If someone is having an allergic reaction to a piece of jewelry, e.g., an itchy neck or ears, what do you think is the cause?
Sometimes it’s the metal, but there are cases where it’s something else. For example, one of my contacts said his stainless steel necklace was making his chest itch, but it turned out that it was the engraving on the piece, not the metal itself.
If someone wants to continue wearing a piece of jewelry that’s irritating them, what do you recommend?
Many times, the itchiness goes away if you coat the metal with a clear coat of nail polish, which serves as a barrier against the skin. Of course, the polish will wear away over time, so you’d need to reapply the polish once in awhile.
What types of metals seem to cause the most allergic reaction?
Usually metals that are mixed with more nickel tend to irritate people. For example, gold-plated pieces or sometimes sterling silver can be mixed with nickel.
We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions that you’d like Peggy to answer in a future Q&A, please leave a comment below.
This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts featuring experts.