Is there a simple test or procedure to determine if a piece of jewelry contains nickel? I am not in a position to purchase expensive laboratory instruments. M. B.
With all the concern about nickel in the environment, your question is rather timely. It is estimated that as much as 10% of the population suffers from skin allergies that are typically lumped together as nickel dermatitis. Hence the concern about nickel in jewelry.
The piece of jewelry should be cleaned and rinsed and then dipped in a 2% dimethylglyoxime in alcohol solution. The part is dried and then hung in a desiccator, which contains a concentrated ammonium hydroxide. If nickel is present, you should see a pinkish color on the piece after 10 minutes or so.
Dimethylglyoxime can be purchased from chemical supply houses. The procedure should be performed in a hood.