The Skinny on Hypoallergenic Jewelry
Ever since I can remember, I’ve suffered from a metal allergy that has prevented me from wearing jewelry I love and can afford. I cannot count the number of times I’ve stubbornly purchased pieces I knew would make me break out in an itchy rash or cause my ears to bleed, just for the sake of looking good without breaking the bank. “But I NEED those earrings…” “It won’t hurt if I only wear that necklace for a few hours…” If you suspect you also may have a metal allergy, I know you can relate. But as I get older, this masochistic approach to fashion just is not appealing anymore. And this was the impetus that inspired Ying and I to start Myra Ave.
Ying is also a member of the metal allergy club and she too was not impressed with the selection of hypoallergenic jewelry out there, specifically the options of earrings for sensitive ears. We put our heads together and started doing research--LOTS of research. And what we found is that it’s complicated when it comes to the world of metal allergies and hypoallergenic jewelry, which is why we decided to share with you some of the knowledge we have picked up along the way in hopes that it might help you make a more informed decision the next time you purchase jewelry.
Hypoallergenic Can Be a Misleading Term
First of all, what does hypoallergenic mean? The word hypoallergenic simply means, “designed to reduce or minimize the possibility of an allergic response, as by containing relatively few or no potentially irritating substances. “ So, jewelry labeled “hypoallergenic” isn’t guaranteed to agree with all types of sensitive skin, but it definitely is a safer jewelry option for those who suffer from allergies.
Metals to Avoid
Now you might be wondering, “what are those ‘irritating substances that are left out of hypoallergenic metals?” Well, the most common metal irritant is nickel and unfortunately, it is used all the time in jewelry. If you’ve ever seen 24k gold or pure silver, you know that these pure metals are extremely soft. For this reason, nickel is an appealing alloy additive because of its resistance to bending and scratching, and because it’s cheap. This is problematic because the most prevalent metal allergy is a nickel allergy. If you suffer from a metal allergy and only take away one thing from this blog post, MAKE SURE THE JEWELRY YOU BUY IS NICKEL FREE JEWELRY. You can feel safe wearing Myra Ave jewelry because none of our pieces contain nickel.
Another common irritant is brass. Have you ever purchased a ring or necklace only to find that after a few wears it turns your skin green? Well my friends, it means that fine piece of jewelry is made out of brass. Brass is comprised of a combination of zinc and copper, and that lovely green color is what happens when it oxidizes on the skin. Brass is commonly used in jewelry because it has a warm color that mimics gold, it’s cheap, and it’s durable. The only time it is a decent option for someone with sensitive skin is when it is plated with a higher quality metal, such as 14k gold, or when it serves as a base metal in the part of an earring that does not come in contact with skin. You might be familiar with gold plated brass jewelry. Any kind of 14k plated can easily wear off depending on how thick the plating is, which is why we use stainless steel and 925 silver as base metals for any parts that touch the skin.
The most common hypoallergenic metals are pure metals such as platinum, titanium, gold with a higher karat weight (anything above 14k), sterling silver, and stainless steel. Because these metals either completely or almost completely lack the addition of alloys, they are a safe option for those with potential metal sensitivities. All of our base metals are sterling silver and stainless steel, and oftentimes we have gold plated items using 18k gold.
While there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to hypoallergenic jewelry, Ying and I created Myra Ave with this goal in mind: to offer beautiful, reasonably priced, sensitivity-safe jewelry to everyone. We personally test every style we sell, because we’re sensitive too! Myra Ave was created out of our personal need for jewelry we love and can safely wear, and that will always be the driving force behind the brand. We believe in transparency, especially when it comes to jewelry, which is why every piece on our site will have a complete list of the metals it is made from.
We are so excited show you our earring collection and we can’t wait to share with you all the gorgeous different earring styles Myra Ave has to offer. Stay tuned for more blog posts here, and keep in touch with us in the meantime on ig: @myraave
Co-founder of Myra Ave