Yes, most sterling silver products are hypoallergenic. Wearing high-quality sterling silver jewelry should not cause an allergic reaction. On an important note, some sterling silver (usually cheaply made) is mixed with nickel instead of copper, which can cause an allergic reaction if you have a nickel allergy.
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What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver isn’t pure silver, it is a silver alloy that is created by mixing pure silver with another metal. The metals that are usually chosen to be mixed with silver are one or more of the following.
Metals Mixed with Silver to Make Sterling Silver
Antique Silver Buyers informs us that copper is the most common metal to be mixed with silver, but zinc and nickel are often used as well. If your sterling silver is made with silver and copper (and you don’t have a silver or copper allergy) the sterling silver is hypoallergenic.
Is 925 Sterling Silver Hypoallergenic?
925 sterling silver is hypoallergenic but, it depends on your specific allergies. 925 sterling silver is 92.5% (hence the 925) silver and 7.5% of another metal. Sterling silver may contain copper, zinc, or nickel as the other 7.5%. If you have an allergy to one of the added metals, your 925-sterling silver might not be hypoallergenic for you specifically.
Is Sterling Silver Nickel-Free?
Most quality sterling silver is nickel-free. With the keyword “quality” in mind, reputable jewelers are far more likely to sell you nickel-free sterling silver. Cheaply made sterling silver has a much higher chance of not being a nickel-free product.
Is Sterling Silver Safe?
Yes, from my research the medical community considers sterling silver as safe. A “Silver in health care” article posted by PubMed.gov, concludes that “…Silver exhibits low toxicity in the human body, and minimal risk is expected due to clinical exposure by inhalation, ingestion, dermal application or through the urological or haematogenous route.”
In other words, if you have an allergy to silver, nickel, copper, or zinc, you may react to sterling silver.
Can Sterling Silver Cause Irritation?
Yes, sterling silver can cause irritation to the skin if you have an allergy to silver, copper, zinc, or nickel. To avoid irritation from sterling silver, consider wearing alternative metals or avoid cheaply made sterling silver. Poor quality sterling silver has an increased risk of containing nickel.
How do I know if I am Allergic to Sterling Silver?
You may be allergic to sterling silver if you have signs of an allergic reaction when wearing sterling silver items. Walk-in Dermatology® explains that an allergic reaction occurs after prolonged exposure, and only where the metal was in contact with your skin. You may also have systemic symptoms from an allergic reaction as well.
Signs of an Allergic Reaction
- Skin blisters
- Chronic fatigue
- Cognitive impairment
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Reddening of skin
- Dry patches that resemble burns
- Bluish-green discoloration
What is the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Silver?
Silver is “pure silver” or “fine silver” when its silver content is 99.9% or .999. Sterling silver has a silver content of .925 or 92.5%, and 7.5% of copper or other metals.
Pure silver is mostly reserved for making bars of silver, investing, trading, etc. On the other hand, sterling silver is used for making jewelry because it is much more durable with the addition of the other metals mixed with silver.
Does it Tarnish?
Yes, sterling silver can tarnish but you can prevent it. According to Roma Designer Jewelry, sterling silver contains more than just silver, usually copper, which can tarnish over time. To prevent sterling silver from tarnishing, consider taking these steps.
How to Prevent Tarnishing
- Keep away from moisture
- Wipe it down after wearing
- Clean the sterling silver if you notice tarnish forming
- Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals
- Wearing sterling silver keeps it from tarnishing
- Get your sterling silver Rhodium dipped