Itching for Relief

Nickel dermatitis, an allergic reaction to nickel, is the most common form of contact dermatitis in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, Schaumburg, Ill. And unfortunately for jewelers, nickel has been a common component in some alloys of white gold, in yellow gold of less than 14k, and in costume jewelry. The use of nickel in fine jewelry has been banned in Europe, and while it's still available here, North America is likely to soon follow suit, says Canadian master goldsmith and author Charles Lewton-Brain. Customers experiencing redness, blistering, or dry or itchy patches on their skin after wearing certain pieces of jewelry may return to your store complaining that "impure" metals caused the reaction. In reality, they might be allergic to what they bought, especially if the pieces possess high concentrations of nickel, or if the wearer has allowed c

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