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by Jesús Zabala - 3 min read

Does Sterling Silver Have Nickel in It?

Sometimes, people might have allergies, even to jewelry. The most common component that is causing issues for people is nickel. Many people turn to metals like sterling silver to avoid this metal. But does sterling silver have nickel in it?

Let's dive in and explore this!

Does Sterling Silver Have Nickel in It
Source: jewelrylab.co

Composition of Sterling Silver

Although sterling silver is an alloy, most people can wear it safely because it doesn't contain nickel. Sterling silver jewelry is usually composed of 92.5% silver; the rest 7.5% is other metal alloys, most often copper. Copper is a non-reactive metal, less likely to cause an allergy.

Precious metal is required to bear a quality mark, like "925" for sterling, in several nations. Before being marked and sold, jewelry of precious metals in certain nations must be submitted to a government assay agency for destructive testing.

Does Sterling Silver Have Nickel in It?

If you have a nickel allergy, avoid jewelry manufactured with it. This includes both as the base metal and as an additional component to precious metals. But is sterling silver nickel-free?

In most cases, sterling silver jewelry is entirely free from any nickel content. Yet, there is a possibility that some sterling silver may contain it. This is more likely when you are purchasing from an unreliable source. For example, at JewelryLab, we list the components of each piece we craft so our customers can make an informed decision.

Historical use of nickel in silver alloys

Throughout history, nickel alloys were most often used for:

  • Coins and ornamental objects
  • Tableware
  • Plated objects
  • Costume jewelry
  • Keys
  • Doors
  • Car radiators and hubcaps

Variations in nickel content in different sterling silver alloys

These alloys are called sterling silver alloys due to their appearance and not content. The alloys are also referred to as nickel silver, German silver, or nickel-zinc. The materials in the composition of nickel silver usually are:

  • 60% copper
  • 20% nickel
  • 20% zinc

However, there is no silver present. Instead, they were named for their silvery appearance.

Nickel-free alternatives in sterling silver

Some other sterling silver alternatives for nickel free jewelry include the following:

  • Argentium sterling silver (94% or 96% silver)
  • Britannia silver (95.833% silver, the rest usually copper)

Labeling and Certification of Nickel Content

Some regions limit the amount of nickel allowed in jewelry. For example, the European Union's Nickel Directive limits the amount of nickel released on the skin from jewelry. The directive's migration limits are the following:

  • 0.2 micrograms per cm2 per week for jewelry inserted into parts of a human body.
  • 0.5 micrograms per cm2 per week for other objects that come into direct or prolonged contact with the skin.

Importance of verifying nickel content from reputable sources

A nickel allergy develops when the body's immune system perceives nickel ions as foreign radicals. Your immune system's cells typically only combat bacteria, viruses, and other harmful items. When a person has metal hypersensitivity, their immune system rejects the metal and reacts by causing a range of symptoms. 

If you are looking for nickel-free sterling silver jewelry, you have to buy from reputable sources. If you have sensitive skin or a nickel allergy, when you buy from unreliable sources, they may state there is no nickel, even if there is in it. For example, you can check our best sellers' sterling silver options.

Verifying nickel content from reputable sources
Source: jewelrylab.co

Conclusion

Does sterling silver have nickel in it? As we mentioned, most sterling silver jewelry is free of any nickel. Instead, most contain copper as an added alloy.

Still, it is important to be careful when buying jewelry, as some pieces may contain nickel. Make sure that you only purchase from reliable sources that are upfront about the composition of their jewelry.

Jesús  is the founder and designer of JewelryLab. He is the Head of Design and also oversees production, quality control, and precious metal sourcing.

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