Published on September 30th, 2019
With a nickel sensitivity, it can seem like all jewelry irritates your ears. Sensitive ears are usually just allergic to the nickel content that most pieces of jewelry have.
Nickel is a good base metal for making jewelry and is included in many manufacturing practices.
Cheaper jewelry usually contains higher amounts of nickel and other metals like brass, so it’s important to know what you’re buying before you spend the money. Here are five earring options for those with sensitive ears.
The first and most obvious choice for those with sensitive ears is nickel-free earrings. These can be metal alloys devoid of nickel entirely, or other alternative materials like you’ll see further down in this article (like acrylic and stainless steel earrings).
When choosing earrings for sensitive ears, it’s vital that you’re certain of the metallurgic content of the piece; otherwise, you could end up with trace amounts of nickel that could still cause irritation.
Nickel isn’t only famous for being an irritant. In fact, it’s actually quite dangerous given the right conditions. Miners and other professionals who work with nickel on a daily basis or have been exposed to nickel dust have developed such ailments as lung cancer and other serious conditions. Is this something you want against our skin? Besides irritation, nickel can cause cancer! That sounds like something you’d want to avoid at all costs.
When you hear the word acrylic, you’re probably thinking it’s cheap plastic. While acrylics are a form of plastic, they’re actually quite sturdy.
This stiff, non-tarnishing material is a perfect alternative for those who have sensitive ears. Since acrylics are a plastic-like material, they won’t contain any nickel or metals of any kind for that matter. They’re hypoallergenic, won’t rust, and can last for a long time.
Acrylics can also be molded in many different shapes, offering more customization for earrings that traditional materials like gold, silver, or platinum. Flexibility, versatility, and affordability, as well as being nickel-free, makes acrylic earrings one of the best options out there for those with sensitive ears.
A set of acrylic earrings certainly won’t sparkle like gold or silver, but it will hold up to wear and tear, and you won’t have to clean it as frequently as its precious metal counterparts.
3. Stainless Steel
Surgical stainless steel is strong, lightweight, and can be made with little to no nickel content. This makes it easy for people with sensitive ears to make the switch to stainless steel; especially if you don’t exactly enjoy the soft feeling of plastic in your ears.
Some people just prefer the cold touch of metal, and stainless steel doesn’t rust or tarnish (except under very specific, aggressive conditions).
Essentially, if you take care of your earrings, you’ll have an affordable alternative to nickel-rich metals that can last forever. Clean your steel earrings and keep them free of dust and grime, and store them in a temperate place to maximize the effectiveness of their rust-resistant properties.
Stainless steel can be made into many shapes as well, and can even be fitted with semi-precious gemstones or other decorative pieces to offer a little extra style.
4. Hypoallergenic Subscription Box
Many earring and jewelry subscription boxes offer hypoallergenic jewelry that is either low in nickel content or devoid of the metal altogether. Each month, you’ll get a set or jewelry or earrings delivered straight to your door; and if they cause you any irritation, you can just send them back. It’s that simple.
There are several online subscription options, from EarFleek to HeyRowan and beyond; all of which contain little to no nickel in their products. Prices can range anywhere from about $20 for sterling silver earrings to well over $80 for 14k gold options, but that’s the beauty of these boxes; you can pick whatever material you want!
5. Pure Gold/Silver
The final option for people with sensitive ears is more pure precious metals. 24k gold is as pure as gold gets (around 99%) and will only contain about 1% of other metals as fillers/stabilizers.
Essentially, the cheaper the jewelry, the less precious metals it actually contains. Cheap jewelry is mostly filler metals like brass or nickel; the very thing that causes allergic reactions. That’s why department store jewelry is notorious for causing allergic reactions.
That $5 price tag usually is too good to be true. Think of it this way: gold is $1508.25/gram as of this moment. If a department store is selling “gold” jewelry for $15, do you think it’s really gold? It’s likely electroplated with a thin layer of gold, or simply coated to look like gold or silver.
Only buy pure gold and silver when you can. Yes, it’s more expensive, but the cost is well worth it in the end when you’re not suffering from an allergic reaction. Besides, purer precious metals hold their value longer; making your investment that much more profitable.
Sensitive ears can benefit from these five alternative options. Remember that department store jewelry and knock-off brands are usually only coated with precious metals or made to look like them. The cheaper the jewelry, the more likely it is to contain high amounts of nickel. Buy pure or buy alternative materials to avoid adverse reactions!