Summer Sweat and Metals May Not Mix: Provides Insight into Common Metals Found in Jewelry and Their Reaction With Sensitive Skin

Share Article breaks down the common types of metals used in jewelry making and the effects they can have on sensitive skin.

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The product images may look like silver, gold, or even platinum but the pieces themselves may end up being rhodium plated over copper.

The cost of metals and working with them can affect the end cost to consumers. With this in mind, many jewelry companies opt for the plating method. While plating can give the same appearance as fine jewelry, the smallest damage can expose the underlying metal and for consumers with sensitive skin or metal allergies this small amount of exposure is enough to cause skin staining, rashes and even blisters. provides a breakdown of common metals used in plating and how to avoid skin reactions.

Plating jewelry is the method of using a harder metal as the jewelry base and then overlaying a thin layer of a finer metal such as silver, gold, rhodium, or platinum. This can not only save on costs but also provide a harder piece of jewelry as pure gold and silver are very soft metals. One issue with plating jewelry is that the overlay can chip and expose the metal underneath over time.

“If you’ve ever had your skin react to wearing a piece of jewelry, the cause may be sensitive skin reacting to fine metals or it can be that the piece is plated over copper, brass, or nickel,” says spokesperson Chris Anderson. The chips often seen in plating provide an opportunity for the underlying metal to come in contact with moisture. Whether the moisture is sweat or even lotions, once this happens the metal begins to oxidize. This process releases chemicals onto the skin that can cause it to react. Once the jewelry is taken off, the skin stops reacting and will return to its normal condition. In cases where the skin has any metal allergies, those same chemicals can cause rashes that may spread larger than the area touched by the jewelry. In extreme cases the skin can blister from the reaction.

To safeguard against possible exposure to these chemicals, recommends doing a little research when looking through the content of jewelry online. The product images may look like silver, gold, or even platinum but the pieces themselves may end up being rhodium plated over copper. The product title may read 24 karat gold while the jewelry will actually be 24 karat gold plated over brass. “Some companies use metal names as descriptors for their products but if you read closely, they will disclose the actual metal type,” adds Anderson.

In order to ensure jewelry contains hypo-allergenic metals that are less likely to cause any reaction, fine jewelry made of platinum, sterling silver, and gold are worth the investment to keep skin safe. “Sterling silver is very different than ‘made from silver plate’ when it comes to jewelry and accessories,” clarifies Anderson. “Consumers looking for high quality jewelry that will not react on the skin should read carefully to understand if they are buying a piece made of silver or gold, or if they are buying something that may cause an allergic reaction.”

While companies who choose to plate their jewelry may do it for cost reasons, the prices set for the consumer aren’t always that different than high quality, fine jewelry prices. Investing in jewelry that contains hypo-allergenic metals doesn’t have to be expensive. “The jewelry made at is made of .925 sterling silver and gold. Even though we have invested in using finer metals and work with artisans who use these metals, we work hard to keep our prices within reach. Our high quality silver and gold jewelry compares in price to companies selling similar items using the plating method,” explains Anderson.

As technology begins to make online shopping easier and faster, it is in the best interest of consumers to slow down, read the details, and avoid the headaches of purchasing jewelry that can cause skin irritations and damage.

View the best styles of sterling silver jewelry at

About is the online leader in Southwest-inspired jewelry and accessories including necklaces, rings, earrings, pendants, bolo ties, and more. ships to all 50 states and supplies some of the most affordable sterling silver jewelry available. carries modern twists on Southwest styles as well as authentic Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni pieces made by Native American artisans. For more information, visit

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Chris Anderson
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SilverTribe Native American Jewelry
since: 05/2010
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