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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog
Fashion Notes: Metal sensitivities (earrings)


Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:43 PM (Eastern)

argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with swarovski crystals
argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with labradorite
argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with freshwater pearls

I've had earring metal sensitivity for many years; in fact, I had it when I got my ears pierced, about thirty years ago. It's just that people didn't talk about it much back then and I wasn't sure what was wrong.

I remember dunking the earrings in rubbing alcohol, in the vain hope it was simply a matter of sterilizing them better. And I tried many an earring labeled "surgical stainless steel" only to find it just as irritating as the "non-surgical-stainless-steel" variety.

At one point, there was this sort of clear nailpolish-like substance you were to paint on your earring wires to seal off the irritating metal. I tried this too and ended up having to return it.

Later on, I tried Simply Whispers earrings. For what they were, they were expensive, but at last I could wear regular pierced earrings. Some time after that, drugstores started selling Simply Whispers-type earring wires, so I converted all of my earrings to these.

When I started making jewelry, I discovered niobium, which works even better than the Simply Whispers type. There's also titanium (which, like niobium, can be annealed into colors, albeit not as vivid, nor as varied as niobium).

I can wear 18 karat gold earrings, it's more a matter of "oy the price tag" (still have it in mind to make some though).

The latest wearable metal for me, it turns out, is argentium sterling silver (pictured above with Swarovski crystals, Bali sterling beads, labradorite and freshwater pearls). Argentium is a patented alloy of silver, containing the same percentage of silver as standard sterling (92.5%). However, argentium sterling uses less copper and an element called germanium in the alloy.

It's been widely marketed as highly tarnish-resistant, so if sterling seems to turn instantly black on you, this may also be of interest to you. (Folks living in high humidity tend to have their sterling tarnish quickly.) I do believe I was on the Jewelrymaking.about.com forum, someone mentioned argentium, I thought, what the heck, let's try it...

Now I can have nice shiny silver earrings--admittedly, the dull silver color of unannealed niobium isn't quite as pretty.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
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