Ask Diamond Dave

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Dear DD,

After I wear my diamond ring, the skin on my ring finger breaks out in red splotches. Can I possibly be allergic to diamonds?

Red Finger

Dear Red

No woman can possibly be allergic to diamonds. After all, they are a girl’s best friend!

You didn’t mention it, but I would have to assume that your ring is 14- or 18-carat gold. It is not the gold that causes the allergic reaction, but the nickel alloys mixed into the gold. Gold jewelry is never sold pure—it requires nickel, copper, or other alloys to make it durable. These alloys also provide the prongs with the strength to hold the stones. Your skin is reacting to these alloys and is breaking out in red splotches. They may also cause a rash or sometimes just dark discoloration of the skin.

If the ring is white gold, there is a simple solution: Ask your trusted jeweler to have the ring rhodium plated. Rhodium is a heavy white layer of metal that adheres to the ring and creates a protective shield between your finger and the nickel. Unfortunately, this will eventually wear off and the skin will react again. You will then have to repeat the process.

If the ring is yellow gold, you will have to first “dip” it, since the rhodium is a white metal. That is, refinish the ring to white gold, and then have it rhodium plated. I’m unaware of a solution if you want to wear yellow gold.

A more permanent alternative would be to only wear rings made of platinum, which seems to be hypoallergenic. Less costly options are titanium, stainless steel, or sterling silver.

The same solution applies to earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. With earrings, you can wear yellow gold and have the posts made of platinum.

Diamond Dave

“Diamond Dave” is a longtime expert in the diamond and jewelry trade. Send questions and comments for him to editor@5tjt.com.

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