The term hypoallergenic is often incorrectly used to mean something that is free of allergens. However, hypoallergenic actually refers to products that hold a low risk of giving you an allergic reaction. That said, an allergic reaction is still possible, even with hypoallergenic rings. But, if you have very sensitive skin, you are probably better off with a hypoallergenic engagement ring.
How Do I Know If I Need a Hypoallergenic Ring?
How exactly do you know if you need a hypoallergenic ring? Metal allergies tend to impact about 15 percent of people who wear jewelry, usually due to autoimmune conditions that cause someone’s body to see specific metals as toxins. These autoimmune skin conditions cause the skin to react to the metal with a number of skin symptoms, including blisters, rashes, swelling, itching, pain, and other symptoms like arthritis, fatigue, and even depression.
We recommend consulting a dermatologist or doctor if you have any of these conditions when you wear rings to determine whether your symptoms are caused by a metal alloy allergy or some other condition.
What Metals Should I Avoid If I Have Sensitivities?
Many different metals can cause allergic reactions. That said, here are some of the main metals or metal alloy types to avoid:
- Nickel. The most common metal that can cause allergic reactions or uncomfortable skin symptoms is nickel. Nickel often causes allergic reactions since the metal breaks down into a kind of salt when exposed to sweat or water. Salt can be very irritating to the skin and cause symptoms such as pain and rashes.
- Copper. While copper is often a hypoallergenic metal, it is also extra pliable and soft, meaning it breaks down under wear and tear. For this reason, some jewelry makers choose to reinforce copper jewelry with a small amount of nickel-metal alloy to make it stronger. However, as we have already established, nickel can cause allergic reactions, even in fairly small amounts.
- Lead. Some metal alloys contain small amounts of lead, which can cause strong reactions and horrible congenital disabilities, even in small quantities. If your jewelry contains even tiny amounts of lead, it could cause skin reactions.
Hypoallergenic Metals for Engagement Rings
Now that we have established which metals can cause the biggest allergic reactions, you might be wondering about the best hypoallergenic metals for rings. Here are a few of the top hypoallergenic ring metals:
If you have very sensitive skin, platinum is a solid, safe, and beautiful option for your engagement ring. Platinum is a silver-colored metal, but you should keep in mind that platinum engagement rings are not completely composed of platinum. We recommend searching for rings that are 95% metal because these rings usually contain only a small amount of another metal, typically iridium. Platinum rings are hypoallergenic and very strong, which means that they can last you for multiple generations.
Cobalt is another fantastic option for your hypoallergenic engagement ring. The metal typically appears black or silver. Other than jewelry, cobalt is also used as a metal alloy in orthopedic and dental implants since it is very strong and hypoallergenic. Cobalt is scratch-resistant, very durable, and usually much less expensive than platinum. The metal also keeps oxidation at bay, so cobalt doesn’t require replating very often, if ever. Cobalt is becoming a more popular option for men’s wedding rings in addition to engagement rings.
Palladium is quite similar to platinum in terms of its strength and durability. The silver-colored metal is harder than platinum, making it an excellent option for your hypoallergenic engagement ring. While platinum falls at a 3.5 on the Mohs scale, palladium falls at a solid 4.8. The rare metal is also less expensive than platinum and super lightweight, which means that many people who wear palladium rings barely notice them on their fingers.
If you are looking for a hypoallergenic gold metal option, high-karat gold is a fantastic option. Eighteen-karat yellow gold is the most wearable metal in the yellow gold family, composed of 18 parts gold and six parts alloy, usually copper and silver. Eighteen-karat yellow gold is significantly more hypoallergenic than white gold. White gold tends to be combined with large amounts of nickel to give it a more silver appearance, and as noted, nickel can cause a lot of skin symptoms and allergic reactions.