Is Sterling Silver Hypoallergenic?

Those that wear a lot of jewellery are probably aware that it is not a one size fits all kind of thing. Whether you have a preference for fine jewellery, fashion jewellery or even antique jewellery your body may end up dictating what kind of jewellery you can wear. Those with sensitive skin and intolerance to certain metals will be aware that certain kinds of jewellery can react with your skin and body. This leads to the hunt for “hypoallergenic” jewellery. 

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you will have to forgo your shiny, everyday gold and silver jewellery or your sparkling diamond jewellery, as some of the purer metals are indeed hypoallergenic. This means they are less likely to cause a reaction for those with particularly sensitive skin and if they do, it will be minimal. But what about fine silver and sterling silver jewellery? Is sterling silver hypoallergenic? Read on to find out. 


Common Sensitivity Issues

First, let’s look at the common issues that might lead someone to hunt for hypoallergenic silver jewellery. 

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin reaction that occurs when the skin comes into contact with items it is sensitive to, and we’re not just talking about jewellery. Contact dermatitis can occur with anything from makeup, skincare and cleaning products to certain articles of clothing and even hair products. 

When it comes to jewellery, the metal that is most prone to giving people a reaction is nickel, which is commonly used for costume and fashion jewellery due to its low price-point. Coming into contact with jewellery that you are allergic to can result in redness, swelling, rashes, dry patches and even blisters. But while allergies are most common in costume jewellery, that’s not to say you will be completely safe if you opt for fine jewellery. You should make sure your jewellery is made from a hypoallergenic material.

Is Sterling Silver Hypoallergenic?

So, is sterling silver hypoallergenic? Generally speaking, the answer is yes.

While it is possible to purchase jewellery that is made of nothing but pure silver, the most common type of silver jewellery on the market is sterling silver. Sterling silver generally has around 92% pure silver, with the remaining 7.5% usually being made up of copper or zinc. 

These added metals not only add a great deal of strength and durability to the already very delicate and malleable fine silver, but they also make it more affordable. These metals are generally not known for causing a reaction in those with hypersensitive skin, so usually it’s safe to assume that sterling silver is indeed hypoallergenic. 

However, very occasionally sterling silver jewellery can contain nickel. You are likely to come across nickel infused sterling silver in fast fashion boutiques as well as other stores that sell cheap costume jewellery. Nickel is not hypoallergenic and is known to cause quite severe reactions in people with sensitive skin. Although, no one is exactly sure what causes nickel allergies, essentially, the immune system recognises nickel as a toxic substance. 

It is estimated that at least 10% of people are sensitive to nickel. Luckily, there is a way to eliminate entirely the risk of an allergic reaction by purchasing rhodium-plated sterling silver jewellery. 

Rhodium is a lustrous and high-quality metal that is often used to make the exterior of fine and sterling silver more solid. Another bonus of rhodium-plated sterling silver is that it acts as a shield for preventing contact between nickel and the skin.

Is 925 Silver Hypoallergenic?

925 Silver is the name given to sterling silver jewellery with a certain silver purity level. It essentially indicates that a particular piece meets the universal standard for sterling silver jewellery in the sense that it should contain at least 92.5% pure silver, while the other 7.5% can be made up of other metals including copper, zinc and nickel. 

Silver jewellery such as silver chains, silver rings and silver bracelets that are considered to be 925 Silver often feature a small engraving on the back with the numbers 925.

If your item contains over 80% pure silver it will generally feature an 800 marking but it won’t be considered as traditional sterling silver. Jewellery items that are stamped with 958 and 999 are considered to be sterling silver and pure silver jewellery respectively, as they contain 95.8% and 99.9% silver. 

925 Silver is recognised as the standard for sterling silver by jewellers in most places including the United States, Australia as well as many parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Some countries like France, however, consider 95% of silver and 5% silver alloy to be the hallmark of high-quality sterling silver jewellery. This kind of sterling silver will generally be stamped with the number, 950. 

As 925 Silver is essentially the same as sterling silver, it is generally considered to be hypoallergenic. But much like sterling silver, there is a chance that one of the silver alloys used to make up the rest of a particular piece is nickel. And as we have established above, nickel is a metal to which people are most likely to receive an allergic reaction.

Are Sterling Silver Earrings Safe?

If you’re wondering “is sterling silver hypoallergenic,” you’re probably thinking about earrings. We’ve all had one of those days where we have removed our earrings only to be confronted by the sight of crusty and more alarmingly, bleeding ears. Nothing but skin and cartilage, the exterior part of our ears is quite soft and sensitive, especially after a day of bearing the brunt of heavy earrings in the lobe. As a result, certain types of earrings can make them quite vulnerable to mild irritations. The biggest culprits for ear irritation are fashion and costume jewellery. Not only do these types of jewellery often contain metals that are known to react negatively with the skin such as nickel but they are also quite heavy, something that can cause further irritation. 

Sterling silver earrings that don’t contain nickel are a great way to avoid any mild ear irritation, as not only are they hypoallergenic they are also really light and soft on your delicate earlobes. 

The process of having your ears pierced is quite an event for the body and can take some time to heal. As a result, professional piercers often recommend that you wear gold, titanium and stainless steel jewellery while your piercing heals. But once it has healed, you can rock as many sterling silver earrings as you please!

Is Silver Ok For Sensitive Ears?

As sterling silver and fine silver jewellery are hypoallergenic, earrings made of these materials are generally safe for those with particularly sensitive ears-within reason. If you are someone with sensitive ears, you should opt for pure silver earrings or 925 silver earrings. By investing in a pair of 925 silver earrings, you ensure that the pair of earrings you have contains 92.5% fine silver and is less likely to contain more metals like nickel that can leave your ears feeling uncomfortable.

An alternative approach you can take to avoid irritation on your sensitive ears is by investing in sterling silver earrings that are plated in rhodium. You should also avoid sterling silver earrings that are too heavy if you suffer from sensitivity as they can weigh your ears down. 

So, there you have it. Is sterling silver hypoallergenic? The simple answer is yes—but make sure you buy from a reputable sterling silver jewellery store like Silver Chic. Sterling silver IS hypoallergenic and is more than fine if you have particularly sensitive skin or ears.  Browse our huge range of high-quality silver jewellery online. You can even buy now and pay later with our various finance options and save on shipping when you spend $69 or more. 

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