Have you ever had this happen – you’re wearing a favorite piece of jewelry, and it turns your finger, wrist, or neck green or black? I had this experience recently, so I thought I’d share it with you.
I was gifted a pair of beautiful sterling silver dangling turquoise earrings for Christmas. When summer rolled around, I was excited to put these in my jewelry rotation. I was in the store one day, and the other girls looked at my cheeks oddly… there was black on both sides, exactly where my earrings were rubbing!
This type of reaction is not uncommon, but can be explained by a few simple chemistry lessons.
Chemicals: Gold is inert, however, chlorine can damage both gold and sterling silver jewelry. Makeup and lotions can also cause a reaction, as many of the ingredients in these products are harder than the jewelry itself. The friction causes microscopic pieces to wear off and discolor your skin. Salty air mixed with sweat can also create a reaction.
Alloys and acid: Most precious metal jewelry is made of an alloy, or combination of gold or silver with other metals including tin, copper, or nickel. This increases its strength and durability. Sometimes, though, the acid in your skin can react with these metals, especially copper. When this happens, a green salt compound is formed, which can be absorbed by your skin, causing it to turn green. This is not to be confused with a metal allergic reaction, which is characterized by redness, itching, or swelling.
Here are a few tips if you do experience discoloration:
- Remove rings before swimming in a pool, hot tub, or saltwater.
- Avoid wearing jewelry when working with household chemicals.
- Remove your rings at night.
- Clean your jewelry regularly.
If you are still having issues, consider having your jewelry coated with rhodium on the side that is touching your skin to further prevent a reaction. You could also try wearing stainless silver jewelry.
Shine Bright~ Ashley
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Sources: Yates Jewelers, Overstock, Health Central