Let’s say you and a friend are at the mall (remember malls?). You stroll into a boutique—masks on—and she beelines for the jewelry section, where she quickly picks up two pairs of super cute earrings and decides she’s going to treat herself. You think, I should grab a few pairs, too. But oh wait, you have highly sensitive ears that react to what seems like every pair of hoops, studs or huggies. Ughhhh. Luckily, there are a ton of suitable options for those of us who can’t just buy earrings made of any old metal. Here are nine of the best earrings for sensitive ears, plus a handy guide to figuring out if that pair you’re lusting over will do you dirty.

Why are my ears sensitive to some earrings?

Nickel is the most common irritant (ear-ritant?) when it comes to sensitive ears, That wouldn’t be too big a deal, except for the fact that, unfortunately, nickel is used in many, if not most, of the more affordable earrings on the market. It’s also often used to make piercing guns, which is why it’s important to find an experienced piercer (who will likely pierce with a needle) the next time you get a new hole.

Got it. So, what materials won’t be irritating?

This is where it gets a little tricky. Many earrings are labeled “hypoallergenic,” which you would naturally assume to mean smooth sailing ahead. However, many hypoallergenic earrings—though they don’t contain any nickel on the surface—have nickel underneath their plating. If that coating wears off, your skin will be touching nickel. Instead of hypoallergenic, seek out styles that are marked “nickel-free.” Still, some earrings that are nickel-free aren’t marked as such, which is why it’s important to consider what materials they are made with.

One of your safest bets is medical grade jewelry, which is designed to protect your skin. Beyond that, the best earrings for sensitive ears are generally made with gold, platinum or silver. When looking for gold, make sure to buy earrings that are 14k or above, since very few people are allergic or sensitive to the neutral metal. If solid gold is out of your price range, you can go for gold-plated earrings with a sterling silver or titanium base (which should be clearly marked). With silver, look for sterling silver 925, which means 92.5 percent of what you’re getting is sterling silver, a concentration high enough that sensitive ears will be in the clear. Other materials that work for sensitive ears? Stainless steel, titanium or plastic, though these materials can be more expensive (titanium) or easier to break (plastic).

Shop the nine best earrings for sensitive ears below.

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mariana jewelry

1. Mariana Double Pear Leverback Earrings in Sun-Kissed “Sunshine”

All the pieces from Mariana Jewelry are handmade in Israel and are nickel-free, lead-free and hypoallergenic, making them a great option for pretty much anyone. We’re fans of this sunshine-y pair, which will brighten up your whole face.

Buy it ($108)

mejuri

2. Mejuri Small Hoops

Mejuri’s small but mighty hoops (by which we mean you can wear them every single day, with everything you own) are made from 14k solid gold. Since gold is one of the least reactive metals, it scratches less and doesn't wear out as easily. Bonus: These 14k gold babies are rather budget-friendly—especially for a pair you’ll wear constantly.

Buy it ($55)

nordstrom

3. Bony Levy 14K Gold Triangle Stud Earrings

Another brand committed to high-quality metals? Bony Levy. FYI, they’re sold exclusively at Nordstrom but they’ve got plenty of options to choose from.

Buy it ($170)

shopbop

4. Zoë Chicco 14k Single Itty Bity Earring

Yes, you’re only getting one earring here, but we love the idea of using Zoë Chicco’s lightning bolt for a cartilage piercing.

Buy it ($70)

baublebar

5. BaubleBar SPILLO 18K GOLD VERMEIL SAFETY PIN EARRINGS

This pair isn’t solid gold, but BaubleBar is very clear that each of the safety pins are hand-crafted using 18K gold plated sterling silver—not gold-plated nickel.

Buy it ($54)

stone and strand

6. Stone and Strand Silver White Topaz Gradient Dangle Earrings

Ideal for special occasions, this fancy pair is made using a thick micron plating of 18k gold over a 925 Sterling Silver base. Lovely.

Buy it ($98)

monica vinader

7. Monica Vinader Alta Capture Mini Link Earrings in Sterling Silver

Monica Vinader is committed to using recycled silver, so you can trust that these ethically sourced sterling silver links are a feel-good purchase. And a chic one, at that.

Buy it ($135)

nordstrom

8. Maria Tash Long Triple Spike Single Earring

Yes, Maria Tash earrings are on the pricier side, but they’re so damn chic (and made with super high-quality materials suitable for sensitive ears). This single spike is nickel-free and made from 14k gold. As for the stones you see? Those are lab-created black opals.

Buy it ($375)

nordstrom

9. Adina’s Jewels Solid Butterfly Drop Huggie Hoop Earrings

Another affordable option, this sweet pair of butterflies are made from 14k gold-plated sterling silver.

Buy it ($48)

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gorjana

10. gorjana Moonstone Trio Studs

Set in 14k gold, these ethereal studs shine bright when the light hits.

Buy it ($160)

tory burch

11. tory burch PEAPOD STATEMENT EARRING

This sculptural, nickel-free pair is designed with freshwater pearls encased in metal for a statement-making bauble.

Buy it ($228)

pandora

12. pandora Sparkling Snowflake Stud Earrings

No one has to know these aren't real diamonds (but they are made with sterling silver, so you're good to go).

Buy it ($50)

MYTHERESA

13. SUZANNE KALAN Fireworks 18kt gold warrings with emeralds

A splurge? Sure. Gorgeous? Oh yeah. These dainty studs feature Suzanne Kalan's signature 'fireworks' arrangement, with 0.30ct emerald baguettes and 0.04ct round white diamonds.

Buy it ($929)

saks fifth avenue

14. Dannijo Viola Chain-Link Hoop Earrings

This tougher take on a classic hoop style is made with 15k gold-plated stainless steel.

Buy it ($120)

saks fifth avenue

15. Majorica Circle White Round Faux Pearl & Stainless Steel Earrings

With faux pearl embellishments, these stainless steel hoops are the ideal mix of edgy and ladylike.

Buy it ($80)

nordstrom

16. nordstrom 2ct Cubic Zirconia Earrings

A pair of sparkly studs are completely timeless, and we love this pair because it's made with gold-plated sterling silver and costs less than $50.

Buy it ($46)

nordstrom

17. kate spade new york pearlette delicate stud earrings

A titanium post-back makes these delicate studs a great option for those with skin sensitivities.

Buy it ($38)

nordstrom

18. knotty Bow Stud Earrings

Wrap up your look (get it?) with these petite, gold-plated stainless steel studs.

Buy it ($46)

nordstrom

19. mignonne gavigan Leopard Hoop Earrings

With stainless steel post backs, the only thing you'll have to worry about while wearing these is fielding questions from everyone about where you got them.

Buy it ($325)

saks fifth avenue

20. chan luu 18K Goldplated Pearl & Mixed-Stone Charm Hoop Earrings

A golden hand grasps a hoop embellished with an assortment of pearl and stone charms with this pair of 18k gold-plated sterling silver earrings.

Buy it ($125)

saks fifth avenue

21. sydney evan Enamel & 14K Yellow Gold Mini Evil Eye Single Stud Earring

Cast in 14k yellow gold with smooth enamel, this single stud is a part of Sydney Evan's Devout collection, and is meant to provide protection to its wearer.

Buy it ($145)

nordstrom

22. nashelle Lucky Threader Earrings

In sterling silver, this set of slim, minimalist threader earrings were hand-forged in a renewable-energy-run studio in Bend, Oregon.

Buy it ($58)

nordstrom

23. set & stones Everly Stud Earrings

Wear your heart on your sleeve ears with this cute pair of 14k gold studs.

Buy it ($98)

nordstrom

24. gas bijoux Calliope Raffia Drop Earrings

A green quartz centers a swirly pair of raffia-wrapped drop earrings plated in glimmering 24k gold.

Buy it ($146)

nordstrom

25. dean davidson Ipanema Earrings

Styled with a sleek, 22k gold triangular drop, these lustrous gemstone earrings will elevate any outfit.

Buy it ($250)

RELATED: How to Clean Jewelry—from a Diamond Ring to a Pearl Necklace

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