Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

February 4, 2008

Oh the cruel, cruel irony

I'm a jewelry addict, obviously, since I make copious quantities of jewelry. But I do like to buy jewelry too. I'm particularly fond of those gorgeous stretchy-type crystal bracelets that are sometimes sold in sets of 3, or individually. I have them in many colours.

Sometime last year, I noticed that my wrists were getting really itchy, which I chalked up to dry skin. Around the same time, I noticed that I could no longer wear earrings for more than an hour w/o both ears becoming unbearably itchy, red and swollen. The last time I wore earrings was my first day in Victoria last summer, because I couldn't take the discomfort. I stopped wearing a watch and bracelets too.

Since last summer, all I've worn are necklaces. My beautiful earrings and bracelets have been collecting dust for 7 months.

On Saturday at the antique show, I bought a cobalt blue crystal, double-strand, stretch bracelet. I had to have it. I love cobalt blue. It's so sparkly and pretty!! Today, I put the bracelet on before I left work at 6:30. By 8:00, I had to take it off. What's left in it's place is a huge rash on the top part of my wrist, below my thumb, and all down the underside of my arm, about halfway to my elbow. I've slathered lotion and hydrocortisone on my arm and it's still very red with itchy welts.

It's official. I'm allergic to metal, and it's probably nickle. Even though my earwires are all "hypoallergenic" surgical steel, I found out that surgical steel contains nickle. I've always had a problem with studs, which is why I am unable to wear them. I have to wear hooks to allow the earhole to breathe. I've bought some sterling silver earwires and hopefully, if I change out the earwires on all my earrings, I'll be able to wear them again. I feel nekkid w/o my jewelry!!! Brian thinks maybe my system is overloaded on nickle from the years and years of dripping myself with jewelry every day, so I can't even wear bracelets or earrings for any amount of time. The only reason I get away w/ the necklaces is that the only metal part near my skin is the clasp....the rest of the necklaces are all beads.

But how cruel is this? An allergy to metal making it impossible for me, The Jewelry Whore, to wear jewelry? It's so very unfair.


  1. That's a bugger - but sadly not unusual. A school friend of mine could only wear gold or plastic - the sublime to the ridiculous!

  2. My ears are uber sensitive like that Jojo!I got many pairs this weekend but because they are not certain metals I can't wear them.I am usually okay with surgical steel and on up but these are not EVEN surgical steel!

    Maybe Brian is right.Maybe it would help to take a break and then try again a bit later.

  3. Well, that sucks big time. Is there any chance that you could paint the metal parts with clear nail polish to provide a barrier between the metal and your skin? At least on your bracelets?

  4. Anonymous9:42 PM

    jojo, what about gold? you allergic to that? or platinum? you could make earrings with gold findings, couldn't you?
    it's too bad, and as you said, ironic, that this happened to you. maybe if you take that jewelry break for a month or so, that may help.

  5. She'd have to take a break longer than a month- it'd have to be at least six. And yeah, if you just replace pieces with sterling silver, it'll probably flare up less.

  6. Oh shit, babe!
    I'd die if I was told I'm allergic to Theobrimine and had to stop eating chocolate! This must be so bad for you!!!!

    Can't you make really cool shit out of beads and...I line? LOL!!! You could probably pull it off!!

  7. But I haven't worn anything except necklaces since July! I thought by now the allergy would have abated but it hasn't. I am going to try the clear nail polish idea though...thanks DP for the idea!

  8. Anonymous2:19 PM

    maybe Brian should buy you diamonds in gold or platinum;
    it works for me ;>)

  9. Anonymous6:30 PM

    Hey Jojo,

    Stainless or surgical steel has nickle in it to keep the shiny finish. Silver is nice alternative.

  10. Anonymous4:26 PM

    Hey Jo,

    Coming in a bit late. Sadly, I doubt sterling silver will work, either. It's typically alloyed with nickel, along with a bunch of other crap. That shiny finish that Lizzard was talking about is not silver, but rhodium (an element in the platinum group.) It's plated on top of the metal and WILL come off over time. The nail polish... eh, maybe, but most likely you'll have to go gold. Maybe try a pair of kidney wires that can be interchanged with different pairs?