Nickel has a long history of being used in precious metal alloys and in inexpensive costume jewellery. In precious metal jewellery, nickel along with other metals such as zinc, manganese, and palladium are added to gold in varying amounts to alter the base colour of gold to produce white gold. In addition to being a whitening agent for white gold, nickel also increases the durability and strength of the piece.
Costume jewellery items are commonly plated with nickel to obtain a bright finish.
Nickel can also be found in inexpensive jewellery in the base metal for finishes such as chromium, gold, or rhodium.
Nickel has long-been recognised as an element that when in direct contact with the skin for prolonged periods of time can cause an allergic reaction amongst individuals already allergic to nickel or, less commonly, can lead to the development of an allergy to nickel. This advisory note seeks to guide manufacturers and consumers of precious and inexpensive jewellery on how to minimise the risk of nickel-related contact dermatitis.