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Ask Your Goldsmith:
Gold vs. Silver for Those With Allergies

"Dear Hartmut,

I read with interest your web site about 12 kt G/F gold. I am trying to decide on a religious medallion and I want to make sure that I am not allergic to it. I have a nickel allergy and I am trying to decide between a 12 kt G/F and a sterling silver medallion. What do you think the better choice would be?"

Thanks very much,

Hi Karen!

Thank you for your Inquiry!

In case you like to wear your religious medal "all the time, I would suggest to get the Sterling silver medal.Its almost pure Silver and should nod not give you any problems, unless you're on some kind of medication!

The 12 Kt Gold filled, which means, there is a 1/10th or 1/20th 12 Kt thickness of the gold plate (layer) over the base metal, which is brass in most cases! That layer wears through after a while and the brass base metal shows up on the edges first. After that the the edges of the medallion and your skin will show a greenish color.

Gold filled has a thicker layer of gold on it, than "hard gold plating. Except hard gold plating has usually been "nickel plated first", for instant brilliants of the metal (without polishing the metal first!) So the gold plating wears off fast and the white nickel will show, and in your case will bother the skin.

What kind of medal do you have in mind? Maybe we can supply it or give you some Information on it and also a price! Sterling Silver has problems too sometimes, because some manufactures electroplate over the Sterling with Nickel or Rhodium, to prevent oxidization of the Sterling Silver!

That's a good idea for the store owners, never having to polish the plated Sterling Silver items while on display in their store for years, but for the customer, it will cause problems in time, because the plating wears off on edges and "higher surfaces" and then it looks a mess! A half plated and half oxidized piece of jewellery is not very pretty to look at and nothing can be done to it to correct it, except to re-plate the item to last another while longer! I am against such enhancements of the beautiful Sterling Silver jewellery! It just cheapens it in looks and overall! Like I mentioned earlier, that some manufactures do this to sell their Sterling Silver items better to the stores because they would have no problems with the item "oxidizing", while on display and not been worn.

Sterling Silver, one can always polish it and bring back the beautiful shine and bring back that Silver color to life, no matter how old the item is. Sterling Silver means 92.5% of the metal is pure Silver and the rest of the alloy added is copper to give it a little bit more hardness!

Sincere Greetings from your friendly goldsmith (to be, I hope) ;-)

Hartmut Reinsch
from West York Jewellers
Toronto / CANADA

For more information, please read my other articles about Buying and Selling Jewellery, About Old Gold and Taking Care of Your Jewellery.

Have a Question? Get the Answer! info@westyorkjewellers.com


Hartmut Reinsch
West York Jewellers
January 2003