Laura and I both have sensitivity to nickel. Laura has a more serious allergy (she can’t have any nickel touching her skin whether it be a necklace clasp or the back of a watch) while I’m only sensitive to nickel in earrings.
My sensitivity to nickel only showed up in the last 8 years or so and it can be a bit of a bummer to stop wearing sentimental jewelry or not wear pieces that are given to me as gifts. It’s also (shockingly) not practical or economical to buy myself only gold or platinum jewelry. Laura and I have both come up with tricks to (1) keep wearing the jewelry we love and (2) not break the bank when buying new jewelry or something as practical a watch.
Here are a couple of tricks to wearing jewelry if you have sensitivity to nickel:
1. Replace the components that touch your skin
I had a bunch of dangle and drop earrings that I’d stopped wearing because they made my ears itch. I realized that I could give them a new life just by replacing the hooks. I like gold filled hooks and bought some like these and these on Amazon a couple of years ago (there are lots of options on Etsy too).
If you have a small pair of pliers and a set of tweezers you can detach the decorative part of your earring from its hook (i.e. the piece of metal that goes through your piercing) and fit it on a new one. The hooks are inexpensive and I keep a few in my jewelry box in case I get any new pieces of jewelry that need their hooks replaced.
A bonus of this process is that the new hook is often much more secure and nice looking than what came on the original earring. (This kind of hook with the latch at the back is my favourite.)
You could do the same thing if the clasp of a necklace or bracelet was causing you trouble.
2. Create a barrier between your skin and the nickel
Watches can be a real issue for people with a nickel sensitivity. Even if you find a watch with a nice leather, fabric or plastic strap often the backing of the watch face will contain nickel and cause you trouble. A good trick is to look for a watch where the strap continues along the back of the watch face, therefore creating a barrier between you and the metal part. Timex has a nice range of these kinds of watches (look for ‘The Fairfield‘). Laura wears one like this.
The same principle could work for a necklace – look for one with a leather or fabric strap instead of a chain. Got a pendant you love? String it on a leather strap that is long enough so the pendant lies on top of your clothing when you wear it.
Any other tips to wearing jewelry with a nickel sensitivity?