A friend asked about the ear wires that I use in my designs, and I thought an information post might also be helpful to you. (This info has now been added to its own page for future reference.)
Currently I use three types – Sterling silver, gold fill, and niobium.
These are the most common ones I use. In general these are roughly 18mm, but I do have a few longer ones that I would be happy to use if preferred. Some ‘sterling’ wires produced overseas do not meet the relevant UK standards and are not always proper sterling, in spite of having the 925 stamp on them. Mine, however, are purchased from reputable suppliers here in the United Kingdom.
Contrary to popular belief, sterling silver is not 100% silver, as it would be too soft to use in most cases. Instead it is made from a mix of 92.5% silver and 7.5% base metal, which is usually copper. This is why sterling silver jewellery is stamped 925 – 92.5 silver.
Goldfill wires (roughly 19mm) are much better quality than standard gold plated, and are made from 14 karat gold layers on a base metal core.
These measure approx 20mm and come in a good range of pretty colours. Niobium is a pure metal that has often been anodised to give them colour, and is hypoallergenic, so unlikely to cause skin problems.
I do also have a few surgical steel wires, bought especially for a friend with other allergies. I do not use these normally, as sometimes they can contain small amounts of nickel. However, if you are interested in these, come and talk to me.
While the materials I use are generally regarded as ‘safer’, it isn’t possible for any material to be 100% allergy free. Since making jewellery I have spoken to so many people with quirky twists to their allergies and there really doesn’t seem to be any ‘one type suits all’. The only advice I can possibly give is to try different options and find out what works for you. Then stick to it!