If you are going to opt for silver earrings, there are quite a lot of choices available, from really cheap (and potentially nasty) ones all the way upto the more expensive high quality sterling silver ones. So you need to ask yourself a few questions before you buy. The first, and perhaps most important one is whether your ears are too sensitive for the cheap silver earrings on the market. Many of the inexpensive ones are lower quality, both in the craftsmanship and the alloy used. So you might end up with something containing irritating metals like nickel, which is well-known for causing allergic reactions in some people.
There are also earrings that look like silver but are actually just silver plated. This type of earring – or jewelry in general actually, including rings, pendants, bracelets, etc – need to spark a second question: how long do I want these earrings to last? Silver plated earrings will not last as long as high quality silver ones. That’s pretty obvious, but think about what happens afterwards. If you keep on wearing them even though the silver layer has been worn away, you will be exposing yourself to another metal, and might start to get problems, especially if the base metal contains nickel, as I mentioned earlier. But of course, you might not want to wear them anyway if they have lost their silvery gleam! Decide for yourself whether you want to buy real silver earrings and keep them for years; or whether you want some cheaper ones that will lose their shine after a year, and need replacing. Of course, with real silver jewelry, you can build up a matching set including a necklace perhaps, and even a solid silver bangle, knowing that you will not have to perpetually be on the look-out for replacements – which would be the case with the cheaper silver plated items.
You might be wondering how to tell what your earrings are made from. Whether you go for cheap or longer-lasting more expensive ones, look for those that are labelled as “hypoallergenic” or “nickel free”. This way, the only problem you’ll have if you get the plated ones is that they will go dull after the silver has worn off. But you won’t get painful, red or oozing piercings!
If you are checking out jewelry in a reputable store, it should be obvious from the labelling – if not the price – which is real high quality silver, and which is only silver plated. If you are not sure, ask! Real silver earrings and other jewelry should have a mark on it. If it is sterling silver, it should have “925” stamped into it, signifying that it is 925 parts per thousand of silver – or 92.5% pure silver. The rest is other metals added to increase the strength of the jewelry.
Finally some tips if you can only afford the cheaper types of silver earrings, or (again) any lower quality jewelry, and are worried about skin sensitivity. Firstly, for earrings, always make sure to wash your hands before changing them, or putting in new ones. Then if you do get a rash or allergic reaction, it is likely to be a metal sensitivity problem, rather than just because your hands were dirty and you transferred germs to your piercing. Second, for any kind of jewelry that is not sterling silver, or high purity gold (18 or 24K), try taping it to your wrist. If you are allergic, a reaction can easily take place within an hour. This way, you will not get rashes all over your ears and have them horribly infected. If your wrist does show a slight reaction, or starts itching, remove the jewelry that is taped there, and don’t wear it – get rid of it or sell it to somebody who isn’t sensitised. The good news – especially if it’s somebody else buying your silver earrings for you, is that you will only be able to tolerate the best! Enjoy!