Jewellery that won’t irritate your skin

21 September, 2022 / words by Alicia Lartey

Image by @susannahkinglondon

Jewellery feels like a second skin to me, I could wear the most boring ensemble but as long as I have jewellery, the outfit is instantly elevated. My personal jewellery preferences have varied over the years, but now I have finally established myself as a collector and taste maker, I know what to buy and what to stay far away from. Choosing jewellery is not an easy task, there are a number of metals to consider as well as gems; another thing to consider is how these materials can impact your skin. Although it is a small impact that materials can have on the skin, as someone who has experienced sensitised and inflamed skin, this is an anecdote I like to consider.

Most people begin their jewellery journey with costume or fashion jewellery, which is often not made with precious metals and can rust, erode or break down resulting in possible irritation on the skin when pieces come into contact with liquids such as water or even skincare products. It is possible to find exquisite accessories without breaking the bank. Adding a hint of glamour to your outfit does not need to come at the expense of your skin. 

Whilst I remain your resident skin expert, I have enlisted the help of a fine jeweller to explain the characteristics of commonly used jewellery materials.

I spoke to London-based jewellery artisan Susannah King to find out which materials are the best choices for our jewellery collections. My personal favourite material is gold which Susannah described as “hypoallergenic, especially if it’s high carat and yellow”, meaning your jewellery will not disintegrate on your body or cause you any irritation. Silver jewellery is a very popular choice, although Susannah shared that “Silver can still cause allergic reactions and blackening in the ear/on the hands. However, both metals are better than most base metals used in fashion jewellery such as brass and copper”. 

Gold or silver jewellery sometimes has a heavy price tag attached to it, but there are different grades of each precious metal available, Susannah suggests that “it’s best to buy solid gold jewellery that sits somewhere between 9ct and 18ct. 22ct and higher is great for the skin, but realistically a little too soft for jewellery you wear everyday”. If you do find yourself wearing fashion jewellery, I recommend cleaning the area of skin at least twice a day with some warm soapy water and applying a ceramide rich moisturiser to support your skin barrier. The best way to start off your jewellery collection is to select key pieces in your material of choice and build up your collection over time; my preference of metal is gold which I love to purchase from unique designers such as Susannah or sourcing antiques via (lillicoco).


Antique 9ct Gold Amethyst Spiralized Edge Earrings, 15.60ct

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9ct Gold Twisted Hoop Earrings

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Alicia Lartey


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