Is Sterling Silver Hypoallergenic (Detailed Guide)

This is a question you will hear from time to time if you are in the jewelry industry but especially among new buyers. It happens because more people suffer from metal allergies.

Sterling silver is a popular metal, and as such, people want to know if it’s hypoallergenic before buying it.

Notice that pure silver will never cause any skin reaction.

Unfortunately, silver is too soft that it can’t create jewels. This means that you have to add other metals to make it manageable.

With the addition of other metals, you create the perfect alloy, but you welcome new challenges like the skin reaction.

Although the additional elements make the metals a little more robust, you will deal with tarnishing and even skin allergies.

Read another guide: Sterling Silver Allergy

Lets understand this better.

Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver, and the remaining 7.5% features the use of copper in most cases. Such sterling silver is an excellent choice since it maintains high quality.

Want to know more? Check out this guide: Sterling Silver Vs Silver

It will rarely tarnish, but neither will it cause skin reaction since copper is safe.

sterling silver ring

Notice that copper in itself is hypoallergenic. However, some factories will add copper and other metals, which then cause a skin reaction.

Such a mixture will not only cause skin sensitivity instead also causes tarnish. When oxygen is available, copper will quickly oxidize.

Remember, some jewelers will use other metals like nickel, germanium, zinc, platinum, and more.

More Reading: Jewelry Metals – Metals For Jewelry Making

In other instances, people mix silver with nickel because it’s readily available and cheaper. If you, therefore, buy such jewels, then your skin must react. About 5-10% of the jewel wearers have skin allergies. This then means that they should never wear metals with nickel.

The one thing that makes sterling silver much more accessible is that you can’t use pure silver for jewels. It’s very so soft. Remember, sterling silver is the purest form of silver ornament we have on the market.

So is it hypoallergenic?

Simply put, most times, it is when you buy authentic and high-quality types. So it all depends on the new metals that made the sterling silver. If they use copper, then it’s hypoallergenic, while if they use nickel, then it’s not.

sterling silver ring 1

It’s not easy to find identical pieces of silver unless you are going to buy the silver from the same jeweler. However, if you are sourcing from different shops, you can be sure sometimes to find those that cause hypersensitive skin reactions.

This is to say that when you buy the silver and it doesn’t cause allergies today, you may purchase one tomorrow and cause the allergies.

There are father other types that won’t even cause a single skin problem. Sadly, not all those jewels they call hypoallergenic are hypoallergenic.

So sometimes they may not be hypoallergenic. This is why it’s essential to buy from your trusted jeweler.

More Reading: Hypoallergenic Jewelry – What You Need To Know

Signs of nickel allergy

We have people who are super reactive to nickel but also those who mild react. If you probably don’t know of this, you can expect the following reactions. The primary response is the rash formation where the jewel comes to contact with your skin.

  • It can start to get so red, or it just changes your skin color.
  • You may have other patches of your skin that look like you have a burn.
  • Sometimes you may have blisters that release fluid.
  • If you experience body warmth, develop pus, or experience a lot of pain in the infected areas, you can see the doctor.

We want you to know that it doesn’t matter whether the nickel added is negligible. If you are sensitive, you will experience a reaction.

Will everyone react to sterling silver if it has nickel?

It’s hard to say you will react or not if you haven’t used the pieces.

Some people develop a reaction to using sterling silver while others don’t. I’m one of those who react with sterling silver when they contain nickels.

A good example, while my sister is more reactive to nickel in other jewels, when she uses my sterling silver that I react to, she does not react. Notice that the experience is different for different people at different times.

If you want to buy authentic pieces, you can make sure you only order from reputable brands. This will mean you don’t react unless, of course, it contains unwanted metals.

But what causes the skin reaction when you wear the jewels?

Of course, we need to cover this part to understand why jewels may affect us from time to time. So what’s the most significant cause of skin reaction?


The most significant cause of skin reactions is usually nickel. It’s not every day that the factories add a nickel to their sterling silver, but if they do, then you can be sure it will cause skin reactions. So you should be careful to make sure you pick silver that has no nickel.

When you are using silver plating

Unfortunately, many people buy dubious jewelry like silver-plated jewels in the name of sterling silver. It’s easy to know though that the silver plating isn’t sterling silver. The silver plating fast features the use of a thin layer of silver to cover the base metal.

This silver plating will quickly wear off, and then it exposes the base material. Such metal will then cause an unanticipated reaction on your skin.

Silver filling

Sometimes you will think you bought the regular silver while you just bought silver filling. Here you have another silver plating method, but the difference is that it has a thicker silver layer compared to the other type.

Although you have such a thick layer, you will have some base material sipping through to cause reactions.

These are the primary metals that will cause the skin reaction from your sterling silver.

Benefits of using the sterling silver

So if it’s hypoallergenic, is there any other advantage to buying sterling silver?

Its all beautiful

The one thing that will make you want to buy the jewel is that it’s beautiful. When you look at it, the sterling silver is naturally cool, making it more attractive. It gives you the classic vibe, yet it remains trendy.

It remains trendy

This metal will remain in style forever, just like it has been in the past. The design may change, but the metal will never change. The sterling silver will meet your needs. You can use the large pendant or a bold statement to make you look even better.

Sterling Silver 4

Girls want to use trendy fashion, and sterling silver is the answer to attaining the look at different times.

Its affordable

Contrary to what you may think, sterling silver is much more affordable. Since it’s precious with the perfect shine, most people think it’s supposed to be very costly, which is not.

The reason for the low price is that silver is often readily available.

It cost just a fraction of the amount you will spend on gold or platinum. So if you want to look classy without breaking the bank, choose sterling silver.

If you want an alternative to white gold, you could also use sterling silver with rhodium plating and thus spend a little.

The versatility

People like the silver jewels because they will match almost any occasion that presents itself. Whether you want to use it for a wedding, engagement, or any other special day, it’s fine.


Can you use it for your new piercings?

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a definite answer.

Unless you are sure about the sterling silver jewelry you are buying, you don’t want to use it. If it contains nickel, it will most definitely cause a bad skin reaction. To be on the safe side though, make sure you order those that are free of nickel.

This is true for even those who have sensitive ears. If you can stop itching when you use some earrings, you can use authentic sterling silver.

More reading: Best Earrings For Newly Pierced Ears

If I have sensitive ears, is it advisable to use sterling silver?

As we answered above, it will only be ideal if you are sure it’s free of nickel. Notice that often the silver will start to lose its hypoallergenic property when you add other metals. If you are sensitive, make sure you are buying the metals from trusted jewelers.

If therefore, you can prove 100% that it has no nickel, then it’s okay to use the jewels. It’s excellent quality, but if someone adds nickel, then it creates a sensitive reaction.

Is it true that polished sterling silver is guaranteed hypoallergenic?

It depends on the metal you used to polish the silver. If, for example, you used white gold, it will still be reactive. Remember, white gold has nickel, so it will cause a reaction. If you use yellow gold, on the other hand, it’s hypoallergenic.

Also, if you used rhodium plating, then yes, it’s hypoallergenic. It makes the jewel scratch-resistant, shiny, but also hypoallergenic. You won’t hear of skin reaction because the rhodium plating doesn’t have nickel. Besides, it will look as good as new at all times.

To answer your question again.

Well, it all depends on the kind of sterling silver you use. In most cases, it’s hypoallergenic, but if you use the one with unknown metal addition, it will cause skin reactions.

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