Gold Allergy Information

I am told that Gold is the 4th leading metal allergy. I developed my allergy to gold through 18 years of working at the bench as a Goldsmith/Diamondsetter. It was not until approximately 1996, that symptoms started to appear on the skin of my fingers. I believe (and there is medical evidence to back this up) that it was aggrivated, or triggered by the installation of a gold crown in my mouth. Not until this crown was there for a period of months, did I have any signs of contact dermititis on my fingers. I can still wear gold, but the filings that are sharp (see exploded view) cut through the protective layer of my skin, then react causing itching and dry blisters, until peeling occurs. The mucosa in the mouth has no natural barrier to the gold, and metals absorb more readily through this tissue. The acids in saliva also aid the breakdown of the metal, and promote absorption.

I have since had the gold crown replaced with a Palladium/Silver alloy. I am told that I will never be desensitized, and therefore I cannot work at the bench building jewelry. I restrict my contact with the filings and wear latex gloves when the probability of contact is high. Latex gloves help, but the filings still are sharp enough to cut through the glove, and the gloves only reduce the exposure. I can still wear gold jewelry, I just can't work on it.

This was what led to the decision of working in jewelry sales, vs. custom work at the bench. I am also focusing on web site development. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns that relate to this condition.

I am not a Doctor! The information written here is from my own experience and research. There is not a lot written about this type of allergy out there. I will accept no responsibility for the accuracy of this information. Frankly, my livelyhood was severely affected by this condition, and there wouldn't be much point in holding me accountable for misinformation. My hope is that I can help to alert anyone in my profession, and keep them from going through the same thing. If you are a bench jeweler, get porcelan dental work, and avoid gold alloys installed in your mouth. If you are not affected now, you could be in a few years time.

Other links:
Gold Allergy in Japan
Oral Manifestations to Gold Allergy
Gold, Platinum, Rhodium, Gold Alloys and Allergies
Gold Allergy Resources

Below is a picture of the filings that come off of the gold pieces from sanding, and using files.
This is the material that drops into the bench pan below the work area, as well as depositing on (in) my fingers.

Shown at 30 power magnification. Click on the picture for a large view.
filings_30x_s.jpg - 7923 Bytes

Click on the images below to see closer views:
fingers_2_s.jpg - 4710 Bytes fingers_3_s.jpg - 2365 Bytes fingers_4_s.jpg - 3925 Bytes fingers_5_s.jpg - 4332 Bytes
fingers_6_s.jpg - 3612 Bytes fingers_7_s.jpg - 4364 Bytes fingers_8_s.jpg - 3293 Bytes

These are the pictures of my fingers
fingers_1.jpg - 38761 Bytes


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