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Prone to blushing? Avoid harsh chemicals like the plague? Forced to go the fragrance-free route? There’s a good chance you’re part of the 62% of women with sensitive skin. Most of us in the sensitive club are well-versed in hypoallergenic cosmetics, but what about hypoallergenic engagement rings? Think about it: if your skin reacts to the topicals you apply everyday, this might translate to the one ring you rarely take off. The good news: if you do have metal sensitivity, you’ve got some beautiful options to choose from.

Do I have metal sensitivity?

Do certain earrings leave your lobes red and sore? What about red marks and rashes left from necklaces and rings? If you answered yes, you might be allergic to the metal nickel, one of the most common skin allergies. Nickel is used in the base metal of costume/fashion jewelry, and then plated with silver or gold. When people think they’re allergic to gold or fine jewelry, nickel is almost always to blame. Irritation will show up right where the jewelry made contact with your skin and can develop out of nowhere at any age. It’s thought to be more common in women, but this may just be because women are more likely to wear jewelry. Although allergy to metals other than nickel could be possible, it’s extremely rare.

What ring metals are hypoallergenic?

Platinum and palladium are both hypoallergenic jewelry grade precious metals. Platinum is a durable metal in a sleek, silver hue that will never tarnish or corrode. Palladium is naturally white with a soft grey tint and is smoother and more malleable than gold. 18- 24 karat golds can also be a good option, as they contain little to no alloys.

Custom platinum engagement ring (left) and custom palladium engagement ring (right) by Abby Sparks Jewelry.

Hypoallergenic Engagement Rings: Platinum

You’re probably familiar with platinum, the oft-name dropped highly valued metal used in luxury fine jewelry, but most don’t know that it’s great for sensitive skin. A “noble metal” because of its resistance to corrosion, platinum also resists tarnishing and oxidizing. Simply put: it’s hard to dull its shine or damage its beauty. Beyond good looks, platinum is super durable and perfect for active lifestyles.

Hypoallergenic Engagement Rings: Palladium

Palladium is like platinum’s less mainstream counterpart. Still relatively unknown, palladium has the purity and bright tone of platinum, but is less dense, lighter, and more budget-friendly. Not only will the white metal not tarnish, it won’t irritate temperamental skin. Bonus points for jewelry designers like us, because of its malleability, palladium is a dream for creating elaborate metal work and because it’s lightweight, it’s great for setting large gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies.

High-karat Gold

The most ancient precious metal, gold has been used since the beginning of time for jewelry and for trade. We love gold for its versatility: you can choose from yellow, white, or rose gold and its softness lends well to intricate jewelry design. Ranging from 10k to 24k, the higher the karat the higher the percentage of pure yellow gold. 14k is the standard in the United States and clocks in at 58% pure gold. 18k is more common in Europe, and 22k is the norm in India and other Asian countries. Jewelry made with high-karat gold looks more saturated and is softer since it isn’t mixed with other, stronger metals. Pure gold is out of the question for jewelry; much too soft. Lower-karat gold contains higher amounts of other metals including copper (this creates the pink hue of rose gold), silver, zinc, or other metals.

If a client has a known nickel or gold allergy, we won’t put them in gold: it’s too risky for something as important (and as major of an investment) as an engagement ring. Even high-karat gold could contain irritating nickel. Here’s some hope if you are set on gold; a lot of women have allergic reactions to earrings that don’t extend to other jewelry spots. It’s very common to be irritated by fashion earrings but have no problem with fine jewelry grade gold engagement rings. Still worried? Working with a custom jewelry designer like Abby Sparks Jewelry, we’re able to mix gold with hypoallergenic palladium to create a sensitive-skin friendly gold.

Custom yellow gold and diamond engagement ring, white gold amethyst and garnet engagement ring, rose gold and ruby engagement ring by Abby Sparks Jewelry

Am I allergic to my engagement ring?

The short answer is probably not. More likely, you just need to clean your ring. Germs, bacteria, and build up from cosmetics love to live under your ring and cause irritation, redness, dryness, itchiness, flakiness, white bumps, and rashes. Some people even develop an allergy to their soap, which gets trapped under the ring and dries under the metal. True gold allergy is rare, and reactions to platinum are even rarer. If you think you’re allergic to your engagement ring, step one is to get your ring cleaned by the professionals. If you have an Abby Sparks Jewelry ring, you’re entitled to VIP treatments that include deep cleaning and stone inspection to make sure everything’s in tip top shape. We also have quarterly “Dirty Parties” where clients can bring in rings for a quick clean while sipping on wine and hanging out with like-minded ladies at our design studio.

More questions on how to clean your ring at home and care for it long term? Read up on our top Engagement Ring Care Questions.

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