I picked up a Fullmetal Alchemist Flamel’s cross necklace for $15 at Ikkikon 2007. I’m a big fan of the symbolism and think the crossover relevance to actual alchemy is interesting. I wore it nonstop for about a year and a half. Seriously, I think I only took that thing off on three or four occasions in all that time (and I’m pretty sure a few of those times was so that I could wear my Kingdom Hearts crown necklace instead ;3). I had fun telling people that, no, I’m not a medical student, when they thought it was caduceus. It was also a pretty good conversation starter with the few I encountered that knew what it was. Necklaces are good. You can proudly proclaim your fandom without being overly obvious, and those who don’t understand will just think it’s a pretty design and never know that you’re a flaming weeaboo!
Unfortunately, at the end of that year and a half period, I found that I was developing a weird rash on my neck about where the necklace was hanging. I ignored it for a while, but it only got worse. I didn’t want to think it was the necklace’s fault, but it was kind of hard to deny. So I took it off. In about two weeks, the rash was gone. I put the necklace back on. The rash was back in another week. Damn.
I puzzled over it for a while, but then I googled around and found out about nickel allergy. I had never heard of it before, but I had never been a big jewelry person either. Up until this stupid Flamel’s cross, I had pretty much never worn necklaces. After reading about it though, I was sure that this was what it is. It’s stupid. Completely stupid. You can develop this allergy at any time in your life even if you’ve never had it before. And after that, you’ll be allergic forever. There is no cure! Now doesn’t that just bloody suck.
I was all kinds of pissed when I realized I pretty much couldn’t wear the necklace again without getting a rash, not to mention the small collection of other fandom-centric jewelry I’d gathered by that point. I think I have two or three KH-related necklaces, several random rings, and a Death Note bracelet, though that’s not all metal. Most of the normal jewelry I have is probably still okay. The birthstone necklace some relative gave me ten years ago is still okay because it’s surgical-grade stainless steel, but I never wore that anyway. It’s not fair.
Do they make fandom jewelry that’s hypoallergenic? I doubt it. There are a lot of fandom necklaces floating around the market, and a good portion of that is made up of bootleg designs. It’s pretty easy to tell that a lot of the stuff is made of piss-poor quality materials, but I imagine that most people, for the sake of their fandom, would be willing to overlook it if the design is accurate enough. I guess it was stupid of me to have left the necklace on at all times, but it would have been annoying to have to take the thing on and off all the time, and after a while, I would have just left weird not wearing it. I don’t think that I’m the only person to have fallen victim to this either. At the very least, I know of plenty of other people that wear the same damn fandom necklace all the time.
So what becomes of us? After we come down with this horrible, irreversible nickel allergy, what then? These days, my Flamel’s cross sits deep in one of my drawers, never seeing the light of day. I am sad for it. I want to wear it, but I can’t. I’ve thought about buying a hypoallergenic chain and just transferring the cross onto the new chain, but then the colors wouldn’t match at all, and if the cross itself touched my skin, it would still cause rashes. And every time another necklace comes out with a design I like, I’d need to buy a chain to go with it.
I think they should just make hypoallergenic fandom jewelry. It’s probably a generalization, but I think it’d make sense that people would be more likely to wear fandom-related jewelry for long periods of time, subjecting them to the nickel allergy. But at the same time, the people most likely to buy fandom-related jewelry probably include a lot of folks that don’t care as much for quality or health issues. They’ll snatch up the pretty design first and then suffer the consequences later. Like me! So where’s the incentive for these manufacturers to swap out their cheap, nickel-infested metals for the nickel-free stuff? There’s none.
So, to all you weeaboos out there who have yet to come down with this allergy, I’d suggest taking off your Squall Leonhart gunblade necklace now and again. It’s a sad, sad day when you discover that rash on your neck.