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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Sudden jewelry allery


I am just wondering why is it i am suddenly having an allergy to my wedding rings,earrings and i recently started wearing a chain,from which i got a really bad reaction at the back of my neck.
My engagement ring and wedding band are both platinum. My earrings were 14k gold with a pearl which does not touch my skin and the chain i started wearing recently was supposedly sterling silver. Quite the mix!

Anyway i have never been able to weat costume jewelry earrings but it looks as if i can't wear anything anymore!!!
Please advise on what may be causing this.

Of note,I did start exercising alot more recently. And i am always waiting to collect kids after,so i don't get a chance to shower immediately after exercise. In fact it's probably about 2 hours after i get to shower,by the time i prepare a meal for them. So i am not sure which of these could be causing my sudden allergy.

Dear Cathy,

The unfortunate truth about metals sensitivity is that it may be triggered from one incident and then give problems regularly.   Nickel (as in white gold in the USA) is a prime culprit.  Reactions to other metals do occur and while some are skin reactions similar to nickel sensitivity, some are simply chemical reactions of the metal to the environment. Salt air near the oceans will sometimes create a build-up of various chloride salts and where the skin meets the metal the reaction is generally tarnish of the metal, as in silver, and/or skin reactions.   Body salts and skin oils can cause similar reactions in silver and other metals.

Yes, jewelry in contact with skin after vigorous exercise would be more prone to reacting.  Some people simply cannot wear silver because the metal will tarnish within a short period of wearing and sweaty skin exasperates the situation.

I would double check the chain to see if indeed it is sterling.  The stamp should be 925 or an abbreviation of sterling silver.

Platinum is considered inert and there should be no reaction whatsoever from the metal.  If the reaction is related to moisture/chemicals between the ring inner circle and the skin that is a different matter.  Would you consider not wearing the rings to exercise? (For security, do not take to the gym at all!)  Clean the rings gently with mild dish detergent rinse and wear on fresh skin and see if there is a reaction.

Odd possibility, is there any make-up on your neck which could contact the necklace? The abrasive nature of make-up will sand away at the metal on a microscopic level and create a nasty smudge but should not cause a metal sensitivity reaction with sterling.

Chlorine products in cleaners and pools will affect all the metals you mentioned except for platinum. Avoid contact with such chemicals.

Changes in body chemistry including medicines which are eventually secreted through the skin will sometimes bring on reactions from tarnish to more overt sensitivities.  

Cathy, I have mentioned the primary causes for the problems. Keep in mind, sensitivities change and often quite rapidly once a reaction has taken place.  I suspect the late shower is part of the situation.  However, frankly I cannot understand why you would have a reaction to platinum, unless as mentioned it is not the metal but the presence of a “barrier” between your skin and the air allowing chemicals to react.

There is what I can tell you.  There are hints in this answer as to where to look and what to try. No guarantee is given because I have seen seemingly unexplainable skin reactions and the true causes were not found.  As with food allergy, metal sensitivity often means avoidance of the substance to which you are sensitive.  A break of a couple of weeks from wearing the metal may make a difference.  Not wearing jewelry from exercise time until after shower should help but this will need to be tried to see.

I know this is terribly frustrating.  Best wishes, God Bless and Peace.   Thomas.

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


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