January 06, 2021 3 min read

Have you ever picked up a pair of trendy (and probably very affordable) earrings from a store only to regret the purchase later when your ears ended up sore and green in color? If your answer to that question is yes, you’ve probably got sensitive ears. And you’re not alone. Many people have this issue and it can be a real challenge for those that want to participate in trends, but don’t want the skin irritation that comes with it.

To help, we’ve put together a quick reference guide to earring selection for those with sensitive ears.

What metals might work for you?

Gold:

Our first pick is also one of the priciest. Solid gold, preferably 14k or higher, is not likely to irritate your ears. Keep in mind that you should look for solid gold, rather than simply gold-plated. Gold-plating will not have the same effect because it is sometimes a thin layer of gold over nickel or brass, which are metals that can irritate sensitive skin. Solid gold has other advantages as well, such as its beauty and luxury status. If you choose to invest in a gold pair of earrings, they will likely be something you’ll keep forever. Gold jewelry tends to retain an attractive appearance for much longer than cheaper styles. Real gold jewelry is easy to spot because it will be stamped accordingly. See a beautiful example of a 14k gold pair of earrings below (available in our store).

Golden Moissanite Stud Earrings

Alternatives:

If solid gold is a bit out of your price range, you can consider gold-plated jewelry, but be sure to pay attention to which metal is covered by the plating. Look for jewelry with a sterling silver or titanium base. These metals aren’t likely to irritate your skin and will also be discussed here.

There are other types of gold that are more affordable, such as 10k or 9k gold, but there is more risk of sensitivity with these. Any gold that is not pure (this includes 9k, 10k, 14k, and 18k gold) is part gold and part alloy. Gold is combined with an alloy so that it is more durable for jewelry making (pure gold is relatively soft and can warp or scratch easily). The higher the alloy content (meaning the lower the gold purity), the greater the risk of skin irritation because alloy can contain metals such as copper, silver, zinc, nickel, and iron. The amount of alloy you can tolerate depends on how sensitive your skin is, but most people can tolerate 14k or higher.

Platinum:

Platinum jewelry can be harder to find than most other types, but if you are able to locate it, it is also an option for sensitive skin. This metal is similar to gold in that it’s relatively expensive, but long-lasting. It resists corrosion and will be an investment you can wear for years.

Alternatives:

Like gold, platinum can be used for plating. The same guidelines apply: Pay attention to the metal beneath the plating. Platinum-plated sterling silver or titanium jewelry is a more affordable option than platinum (and can be easier to find).

Sterling Silver:

Since pure silver is often too soft for jewelry making, sterling silver is used instead. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver and other metals, usually copper. You have probably heard the term “925 sterling silver.” This refers to the fact that sterling silver is 92.5% silver by weight and 7.5% other metals. This is an international standard and sterling silver jewelry items will have a 925 stamp to indicate their authenticity. This metal is abundant and non-irritating to most people. It’s also much more affordable than gold or platinum.

Clear Cubic Zircon Stud Earrings

Alternatives:

Sterling silver is often used as a base under gold or platinum plating. This allows for a variety of jewelry styles to be made out of one versatile metal alloy.

Titanium:

Titanium is an affordable alternative to fine jewelry. It is light-weight, corrosion-resistant, strong, and hypoallergenic. It’s often used for piercing jewelry. It’s long-lasting and perfect for daily wear.

Nickel-Free is the Key:

The most important factor in preventing irritation to your skin is to know which metal your earrings are made from. Most of the time, this is easy since the majority of earrings are marked accordingly. Nickel is the most common culprit when it comes to irritated ears. Aside from those with severe allergies, most people should be able to wear earrings that are marked as being nickel free, in addition to the other metals mentioned in this article.



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