Current Jewelry Making Technique:
This weeks jewelry technique is a discussion on nickel in jewelry wire. For most people, the nickel content of jewelry wire is not an issue. For some, this is not the case. Quite a few people are allergic to nickel and are very sensitive to any nickel content in the jewelry they wear. Because of this there is a law in Europe that requires acknowledgement of the nickel content in any jewelry.
As it turns out, nickel is an unintended by product of both silver plating and gold plating. The nickel is used to create the electrolyte bath used in the plating process. For this reason, most silver plated and gold plated wire will contain minor amounts of nickel as a trace impurity in the wire. For this reason, if you are allergic to nickel, you should avoid any plated wire or findings.
Normally sterling silver, Argentium Sterling Silver, gold and gold-filled wire do not contain nickel, even in trace amounts. For this reason, many people who are allergic to nickel find that they can wear expensive jewelry (sterling silver, gold or gold-filled), but not inexpensive jewelry that may contain plated wire or findings. Some jewelry may be made with expensive links, but inexpensive plated findings like the clasp. If you have shopped in our Internet store you will notice that sterling silver and gold-filled clasps cost much more than their plated counterparts. People who are allergic will react to the nickel in a plated clasp, even though the remainder of the jewelry item might be solid gold or silver.
In Europe, some jewelry is made from an alloy sometimes called German Silver or Nickel Silver. As it turns out Nickel Silver has a lot of nickel in it, but absolutely no silver. Obviously, if you are allergic to nickel, you should avoid any jewelry made with this alloy. In Europe, the jewelry made with this alloy would be marked with a warning about the nickel content. In the US and many other countries the jewelry would not contain this warning.
When making jewelry for other people and in particular when making jewelry for sale, we suggest that you consider the nickel content of the components you use. We recommend that if you use plated components, that this fact be noted on the item.