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Hypoallergenic – it’s a word that many of us will never have heard of, let alone considered when buying a watch or a new piece of jewellery. If you have allergies however, you may be more aware of the meaning. If something is classed as Hypoallergenic, it means that the product you are buying has fewer substances in it that could potentially cause you an adverse reaction.

There is currently no agreed scientific definition of what the term Hypoallergenic actually means

This is where is gets complex. There is currently no agreed scientific definition of what the term Hypoallergenic actually means and as a result there is no government standard within the UK (or anywhere else as far as we know) that safeguards consumers when they are purchasing goods. Humans are complex beings, different people will have varying levels of sensitivity to allergens, ranging from mild symptoms to a severe allergic reaction and because there are no government standards on the term Hypoallergenic, the meaning of the word varies depending on what the company putting it on their label wants it to mean.

This decision to use Nickel in watches and Jewellery ultimately comes down to cost

If “name 10 things likely to cause an allergic reaction?” was asked on Family Fortunes, Watches and Jewellery wouldn’t be high on the list of answers but for many people, wearing an everyday wrist watch can cause irritation, ranging from mild discomfort to an extremely painful, red, itchy rash. In this instance, the answer is generally that this person is suffering from a Nickel allergy.  Nickel is the atomic number 28, it is silvery white in appearance, has an extremely high melting point and does not corrode or rust easily. It is also the 5th most common element on earth. The abundance of Nickel, coupled with its resilience as a material seem to make it a perfect fit to be used in an industry that is reported in 2020 to be worth nearly $0.5 Trillion worldwide.

In today’s market, stainless steel is the most commonly advertised watch material, however different grades of the material still contain Nickel and Chromium that is added to the metal as a preventive measure against rust.   Nickel is also a heavy metal, which can ultimately give the impression that a timepiece is more expensive than it really is. It could be argued then, that this decision to use Nickel in watches and Jewellery ultimately comes down to cost, Nickel’s abundance means it comes at a cheaper price than its hypoallergenic alternatives.

Go one step further and seek out descriptions that say ‘Nickel free’ or ‘Low nickel’

The good news is that as a consumer you have options, you just need to know what to look out for when shopping. Price is always a good starting point when it comes to buying a high-quality piece of jewellery. We’re not talking about looking for the highest price here, this is more about avoiding the cheapest options. A quality ‘”hypoallergenic” stainless-steel watch is unlikely to cost less than £120 in today’s market. Bear in mind that even stainless steel often still contains Nickel, generally around 8-10%.

Look for the companies that are open and honest about what materials go into their product, if they are not giving you this information the chances are, they don’t want you to know. Rest assured that in the UK false advertising laws prevent companies from misleading consumers, but because the term Hypoallergenic is still too vague at the moment, go one step further & seek out descriptions that say ‘Nickel free’ or ‘Low nickel’. Of course, you can expect to pay a little bit more, but as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”.

All of our watches at Bruder are made of stainless steel with a 316L rating – which doesn’t react with the skin and is safe for people with nickel allergies. If you are interested you can explore the range here.