Every once in a while a patron or fellow artist has mentioned metal allergies so I thought I would take this educational moment to offer some information the art community might find useful.
Approximately 85% of metal allergy sufferers are due to the presence of Nickle in the metal alloy. Only the United States and some Euro-zone countries require specific metal alloy labeling.
Why does this effect you as an artist?
If you purchase jewelry components from a catalog or the internet, check the alloy content. For example: Sterling Silver in the United States must be 92.5% Pure Silver and 7.5% Copper, though Sterling by definition may be 7.5% other non-toxic non-ferrous metals. (With a few trace elements allowed but in insignificant amounts.) Sterling in other countries may not have this regulation and we know some Sterling Silver components cast or formed outside the U.S. contain Nickle as well as copper but may not be labeled.
Any metal that is less than pure has other metals in it. I love when someone says they can’t understand why their 14k gold bracelet causes their skin to turn green. This is an educational moment and a chance for you to engage with your patron. 14k gold, being less than the pure 24k, is an alloy. And as an alloy, 14k gold in this example, contains gold alloyed to copper and sometimes silver and sometimes even nickel. White Gold is often alloyed with nickel and Rose Gold is alloyed with copper.
Become a label reader – check your alloys. We are all responsible for our artwork. As well, if you have a metal allergy, check the alloy content. You may find that a particular metal to which you thought you had an allergy might actually have an alloyed metal that is the culprit.
As responsible artists, we have the opportunity to connect with our patrons through education. An educated patron is a patron more likely to purchase. And an educated artist is going to not only be more responsible and safe in their studio but is going to affect jewelry suppliers for positive change.
Hope this helps.
For more information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colored_gold (please support wikipedia)