This week I learned that sterling silver might actually be SAFE for me to wear again!
To preface this great discovery, you would have to realize that I have a severe allergy to nickel. If you don’t know what that entails and are too lazy to click on the link, I will fill you in. Nickel has been used as a filler in jewelry, belt buckles, jeans snaps, glasses frames, and every other cheap metal product you can think of for years now. I developed an allergy to it around 1992. It involves a red, itchy rash that develops and if the contact was consistent enough, a weeping ooze.
Sounds fun, right? Why would ANYONE want to avoid that?
But, I try to.
Because of this, I have avoided sterling silver for years. And as I get confused between sterling silver, stainless steel, and surgical steel, I often find myself avoiding them all and only going with what actually states “NICKEL FREE”.
But an article I found on the Internet says that for many reasons, recently produced sterling silver should be considered safe for those with nickel allergies.
Sterling silver, by definition, is only 92.5% pure silver. (That makes sense. If it was 100%, they would just call it “silver”.) The other 7.5% is made up of a mixture of other metals that is constantly changing. (This used to regularly include nickel.) In reality, pure silver is not very desirable for jewelry, because it would be too soft.
What I found out is that since 2000, Europe has had a strict ban on nickel. (I would LOVE to shop there just for that one reason.) So, when making big batches of raw sterling silver, why would a supplier ever make something that he can’t sell in a whole huge market of the world?
Also, nickel is no longer one of the most cost-effective fillers to use.
So, to some up, nickel COULD still be in sterling silver products, but there is a good chance that it will not be.
And what did I do to celebrate this awesome discovery?
You guessed it, I shopped. Retail therapy.
Ugh. My joy is short-lived. Here is more info I found…
If jewelry is silver-plated, it might be covered with a metal known as rhodium. But, guess what? Rhodium doesn’t like to stick to sterling silver. What makes a good “glue” metal between the two? Yup, nickel. So, while a piece may not cause a reaction initially, as the rhodium coating breaks down and the nickel leeches out, it could later.
There is also jewelry with such terms as alpaca silver, German silver, paktong, and new silver. It turns out there is a HUGE CHANCE that all of these will indeed contain nickel.
I just found an article about how many foods contain Nickel.
Just shoot me now.