Tips from a goldsmith

One of the pieces of info that we give customers continuously is about white gold. Gold starts out yellow and to change it to white either nickel or palladium is added. Rings in North America are most commonly a mixture of nickel and gold. *The EU actually has a nickel directive to restrict the use of nickel in jewellery* The benefit of nickel is that it is less expensive; the downside is that you can have an allergy that you may not be aware of, or even develop an allergy overtime to it. Rhodium plating is most commonly used to serve as a barrier and gives the metal a bright white colour. However, all
plating eventually wears off dependent on the thickness of the plating,
your own skin acidity, how you treat and wear your rings exposing the
nickel to your skin. This could mean maintaining your ring by rhodium plating when needed. 

Another alternative is selecting a metal that is hypoallergenic (see above image). Palladium and platinum are white metals that will not aggravate your skin. Palladium is part of the platinum family of metals and shares the same hypoallergenic properties and can be added to gold to create white gold (just as nickel is added to create nickel white gold).

Sometimes even having a ring made with a hypoallergenic material is not enough, then what?!

Irritation can also be caused by build of soap or lotions that are being caught underneath the ring. Surface irritation dermatitis is often associated with moisture being
trapped between the ring and your finger, causing unpleasant friction
and the breakdown of your skin’s protective layer. To help prevent this,
make sure you dry your hands thoroughly after washing them. This will
reduce the chance of unwanted friction. We always recommend that you take your jewellery before showering, swimming, and before you go to bed so you are not trapping any moisture under your ring and to give your finger a bit of a break.

If your finger has developed an irritation be sure that you are exploring all your options. Also be sure that you are taking your ring off (please don’t just leave it on!) Switching fingers if necessary and allowing your skin time to heal. Hydro cortisone can help with reactions to nickel combined with keeping the skin moisturized to help it heal. Another tip that I’ve come across lately is using a barrier cream which can also help to reduce irritation. Regardless, as a goldsmiths we are always happy to field questions like this.