Have you fallen in love with a piece of jewelry and it’s turning your skin ungodly colors ? This can sometimes happen, and it’s hard to know beforehand which pieces will stain your skin, and which won’t. There’s a scientific reason behind this, and we’re going to clear that up for you.
The bad news is that if it does happen, it’s going to happen fast. The good news is that it’s reasonably easy to avoid this, and we’ll tell you how. First though, let’s take a look at why some rings can turn your finger green in the first place.
Why is my ring turning my finger green ?
Green stains on the skin are usually the result of your skin reacting to the copper in your jewelry. So if your ring is sterling silver (925) or possibly rose gold, it has some amount of copper in it. As copper reacts with your sweat and the chemical composition of your skin, it oxidizes, leading to a green tarnish that rubs off on your skin. It’s usually not harmful, though some may get a light rash from it.
Your fingers can also turn black or pink due to nickel in your jewelry, though the most common problem is turning green. If you’re wearing cheaper jewelry you’ll notice it often says it’s nickel-plated. That plating will turn greenish-pink in time, and will stain your skin.
Now, the green stain does not happen for everyone. Some people are more sensitive to copper, and some are less. If you know you often get a green stain from this kind of jewelry, there are ways around it. The first is to identify whether there is anything of the sort in your jewelry.
How do I know if there is copper or nickel in my jewelry ?
Knowing whether you have some copper or nickel in your jewelry is easier if you know exactly what you’re wearing. Gold alloys, and some silver, often include copper or nickel.
For example lower karat gold (14k and lower) may have a range of zinc, copper, nickel, palladium, or silver as alloys. The lower the karat, the more alloys there are and the less gold there is.
Sterling silver is a combination of 90% silver and 10% copper, so you’re likely to get a stain from that as well. Unless the piece ahs been coated in a layer of a different metal you won’t react to, like gold or rhodium.
Read also: How To Wear Engagement And Wedding Rings
Ask the jeweler
The simplest and most reliable way of knowing exactly what’s in your jewelry is to ask the jeweler you’re buying form. Even if they don’t know personally, they can look it up in the catalog for you. Some jewelers make and sell the jewelry themselves, so they would have direct knowledge of each piece. This is not common, but if you’re shopping at a very small shop or a family-owned shop they should have this info.
Look at the label
Another option is to look at the label of the piece you’re buying. If there is any plating on it it should be stated on the label, and the certificate should also tell you what the composition of the jewelry is.
Go for a higher karat
If you don’t want to ask or can’t get a straight answer from anyone, you have the option of going for a high karat gold piece. A high karat (18k and up) means the piece has more gold than alloys, and it may also be rhodium plated for you to get a white appearance. Not everyone looks good in yellow gold, and if you’re looking for a white piece of jewelry you can always have it plated.
Keep in mind that the higher the karat, the heavier the piece, thus it’s more expensive. But you’re also sure it won’t leave a green mark on your skin, and gold take a very, very long time to tarnish.
Go for platinum, rhodium plating, or stainless steel
If you’d rather keep things simple, you can always get your jewelry in a different metal. Platinum is non-allergenic, just like gold, but it’s naturally white and bright. It’s also very dense so your jewelry will weigh and cost more. You can always get something silver plated in platinum, if you like.
Rhodium plating is an option for any gold piece, though it does wear off in time. How much it wears off depends on how much you wear the jewelry and how thick the plating is. In general, a plating is a thin layer while a vermeil is a thick outer coat. Rhodium won’t give you a stain and it always looks bright white.
Or you can simply buy some stainless steel jewelry. They come both in dainty and chunky appearances, so you can easily find something that you will love.
How to avoid the green stain
If you’re looking to avoid getting that green stain from jewelry, there are a few things you can do. As for removing it, it usually comes off with a bit of micellar water and a cotton pad, or by simply washing your hands. The stain usually doesn’t hang around that much, it fades quickly.
Avoid water exposure
The water your expose your jewelry to can corrode it, depending on what’s in the water. Pool water, which has a high chlorine amount, is bound to eat away at your jewelry. Take off your jewelry before entering the pool if you’re not sure it will tarnish.
We’ve personally entered pool water and showered with white gold jewelry (rhodium plated) and it did not stain. But not all jewelry is made the same. If your rings don’t have an protective plating and have their copper particles directly touching the water, you can easily get a stain.
Avoid sweating in the ring
Your sweat can make the rings oxidize much faster and you’ll end up with a green stain. Remove the jewelry before going to the gym entering a sauna, or on particularly hot days when you know you’re bound to sweat.
Always clean your rings after use
An important point is to always, always keep your jewelry clean, no matter what material it’s made of. Not all jewelry is the same, yes, but all jewelry must be cleaned, even gold.
You can clean them with a soft brush (like an extra-soft tooth brush) and a bit of soap. It’s the fine bristles getting into every nook and cranny that really remove the tarnish and make everything look shiny again.
Store your jewelry properly
Keeping your jewelry all in one pile may sound like a good idea, but in truth it’s not. They will oxidize together and end up tarnishing even the silver you may have in there. Make sure to keep everything separate.
Look for a polymer coat
A polymer coat is a layer you apply directly onto your jewelry to act as a barrier between itself and your skin. You’re likely to find that in jewelry stores and in cosmetics stores. It wears off, so you will have to remove and reapply it every few months.
If you simply can’t find that, try clear nail polish. It will chip off in time, but for a one-time use if you’re in a hurry, it’s going to work just fine.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.