Even though high-quality rose gold should very rarely cause an allergic reaction, there are a few ingredients that you can look out for.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about potential rose gold allergies and how to handle them.
Am I Allergic to Rose Gold?
Rose gold, due to its pleasant pinkish hue, is one of the hottest trends in jewelry right now, with everything from bracelets to engagement rings being made out of rose gold.
But what exactly is rose gold and how could it cause allergic reactions?
Rose gold is an alloy of yellow gold and copper. The copper gives the rose gold its pinkish color. Many rose gold alloys also include silver.
Here are some possible metal composition percentages of different types of rose gold:
- 14 karat (kt) Rose gold may be composed of: 58 percent gold, 32 percent copper, and 10 percent silver.
- 18kt Rose gold may be composed of: 75 percent gold, 22.25 percent copper, and 2.75 percent silver.
- 22kt Rose Gold (also known as Crown Gold) may be composed of 91.667 percent gold.
The percentages of the metals found within rose gold depend upon the jewelry company. Each jeweler may have a slightly different recipe for rose gold.
The karat (kt) is a measure of purity, with 24kt being 100 percent pure. Allergies to gold are extremely rare, so the higher the gold content, the less likely you are to be allergic to the gold alloy.
Rose gold that is 14k, 18kt, or higher will contain enough gold to make allergic reactions highly unlikely. Of course, the higher the karat, the more expensive the jewelry will be.
So in theory, unless you have a very rare copper allergy, a very rare silver allergy, or an exceedingly rare gold allergy, you will not be allergic to rose gold, since it does not contain nickel.
In fact, most people who believe they have a copper, silver, or gold allergy are actually allergic to trace amounts of nickel that find their way into those metals during the manufacturing process.
Thus, due to casting processes, the rose gold you purchase may contain trace amounts of nickel, which can cause an allergic reaction. But rose gold in itself (i.e., not contaminated with trace amounts of nickel) is highly unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
So when you are shopping for rose gold jewelry, consider a jeweler who can guarantee that there is no possibility of nickel contamination in their manufacturing of rose gold jewelry.
It may come as a surprise that a surprising percentage of the population suffers from nickel allergies.
Allergy vs Irritation
If the skin that comes in contact with your jewelry develops a rash, there is more than one explanation for it.
The simplest explanation is that you could be allergic to the metal that the jewelry is made out of. This rash, one which arises from contact with something to which you are allergic, is usually known as contact dermatitis.
The rash could also be caused by moisture which has gotten trapped under the jewelry. This trapped moisture could cause your skin to become irritated. In addition to moisture, the dermatitis could also be caused by the buildup of debris, soap, lotion, or even dead skin.
This debris can build up on the surface or the crevices of your jewelry. The built up debris can serve as a home for bacteria, which may cause irritation to the skin. This kind of dermatitis is generally known as occlusion dermatitis.
In order to rule out the moisture or debris buildup being the source of your rash or skin irritation, consider having your jewelry professionally cleaned to remove any debris. The jeweler will be able to clean the jewelry while preserving the integrity of the settings and protecting any stones that the jewelry may contain.
Furthermore, remove the jewelry before washing your hands, and make sure your skin is completely dry and free of moisture before putting the item of jewelry back on. Consider putting the clean jewelry on an area of your body dry and free of moisture and not affected by the previous rash.
If these measures serve to resolve the problem, then you are most likely not allergic to the metal contained in your jewelry.
If your skin irritation and rash persists after you determine that your jewelry is clean and the skin underneath it is dry, then you are probably allergic to the metal used in that particular item of jewelry.
What Are You Allergic to?
Cheaper jewelry oftentimes contains nickel, which is a primary offender in terms of allergies. But if you would like conclusive results on whether you are allergic to a metal and which metal you are allergic to, consult your doctor or a doctor who specializes in allergies.
Based on the appearance of your skin, your doctor may be able to diagnose a nickel allergy right away.
If the allergy is not as apparent, he or she will be able to perform a patch test on you. The patch test involves a small quantity of potential allergens (such as nickel) being applied to your skin and covered with some small patches. The patches remain on your skin for 48 hours. Once the doctor removes the patches, if you are allergic to a particular substance, the skin under the patch for that substance will have become inflamed. Or, in the days directly after the patch is removed, the skin could still become inflamed, indicating a positive test for an allergy to that substance.
Even if a person has a severe allergy to a particular substance, a patch test will not be dangerous for that person, due to the exceedingly low concentration of the allergens in question used during the patch test.
What Metals Cause Allergies?
The metals your doctor will most likely test for during the patch test include nickel, cobalt, and chromates. Allergies to copper are rare, and allergies to gold are even rarer. But if you suspect you are also allergic to a specific metal (like copper), ask your doctor to test for that as well during the patch test.
What Should You Do if You Are Allergic?
If the patch test confirms that you are allergic to, for instance, nickel, then ask your doctor about the steps you should take. Your doctor can prescribe medications such as corticosteroids to reduce skin irritation and to help the rash improve.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a nickel allergy. In addition to medication, you should also stop wearing any jewelry that contains nickel. If you must handle an object that contains nickel, use gloves before doing so.
Purchase jewelry that is hypoallergenic and that definitely does not contain any traces of nickel (or the metal to which you are allergic). Since nickel is used in cheaper jewelry, more expensive, higher karat jewelry will be a safer option.
What if you have an important piece of jewelry (an heirloom piece or your wedding ring, for example) that contains nickel? Obviously, you want to be able to continue wearing it. In this case, there are still some steps you can take.
You can always bring a piece to a jeweler to get it plated with another metal to which you are not allergic (such as rhodium or platinum). The plating will wear off eventually and will need to be replaced occasionally so that your skin does not come in contact with the nickel.
You can also paint the jewelry with a coating of clear nail polish. This trick works wonders and will be barely noticeable even to you. You will also need to reapply the nail polish coating every once in a while.
If you are suffering from skin irritation related to a piece of jewelry, take the steps above to determine the cause and consult a doctor. You may very well find that you have a nickel allergy, which is extremely common.
The key to dealing with a nickel allergy is to wear jewelry that is hypoallergenic. Rose gold is one such hypoallergenic metal. But make sure that the jewelry you are buying is actually hypoallergenic and has not been exposed to or picked up trace amounts of nickel during the casting and manufacturing process.
Having a nickel allergy does not have to diminish your love for jewelry. You just have to be a bit choosier in terms of what you wear and buy!
Rose gold, medical grade stainless steel, titanium, or any other high quality metal that is properly cast without any exposure to or contamination with nickel and other common allergens will almost always solve your jewelry allergy problems.