That lovely little cocktail ring that was to-die-for just turned your finger green. You may not be loving it so much now. But don’t panic, the same thing has happened to plenty of people. Once you determine the cause, you may find that there is a solution. Then you can go back to loving that ring just as much as you did before. Chances are, it’s just science, and an unusual chemical reaction occurred. Here are 4 of the most common reasons why your skin turns green due to jewelry, gold, and other metals.
1. Oxidation: Copper and nickel are metals that oxidize when exposed to oxygen. The chemical reaction of oxidation creates a residue on the metal that can transfer to skin and turn it a lovely shade of green. Although it may look awful, the discoloration does not indicate anything harmful to your health. Both metals are common alloys mixed with gold and silver.
2. Solubility: Another reaction that can take place between skin and metals is solubility. That occurs when certain skin secretions of soluble chemicals begin to dissolve minute particles within the metal. Perspiration contains an array of chemicals. Those most likely to contribute to turning your finger green are sodium chloride (salt) and lactic acid. As particles of copper and nickel dissolve, they are absorbed into the skin, turning it shades of blue or green.
3. Corrosion: Chlorine is highly corrosive to metals. Not only will exposure to chlorine in swimming pools or household cleansers cause a reaction that will turn your skin green, but it also might change the color of your ring. It will require a professional cleaning and polish from a jeweler to return it to its former glory.
4. Sulfur/Amino Acid Reaction: Certain medications will increase production of sulfur and amino acids. When a person perspires, these chemicals are present on the skin. They will react with metals like copper and nickel, leaving behind a green blemish on the skin and a darkening of the metal. The reaction happens most often with people undergoing chemotherapy or antibiotic treatment. There are also certain topical treatments containing sulfur, such as sulfur based shampoos or cremes.
Not Just Cheap Jewelry: Because pure gold and silver are very soft metals, adding stronger alloys is common is fine jewelry. Jewelers will also construct designs of a more atomically dense metal then plate the dense metal with gold. This plating will eventually wear away, exposing the inner metal that comes into direct contact with skin.
Tips To Avoid The Green: Even if a person purchases an expensive piece of 14k/10k gold or silver jewelry, these prized metals can still pose potential skin discoloration problems. If you happen to be among those who are highly sensitive to the most commonly used metal alloys, like copper or nickel, you can still enjoy that ring without turning green. Here are a few tips to minimize the most common reactions with skin:
- Apply a coating of clear nail polish to the inside of the ring, creating a barrier between your skin and the metal. Repeat as necessary.
- Keep your skin dry. Don’t wear jewelry when swimming or bathing. Remove rings to wash hands and dry skin thoroughly before putting rings back on.
- Don’t wear lotion on ring finger(s).
- Don’t wear jewelry during workouts or other activities that will result in heavy sweating.
- Remove jewelry when using household cleansers containing bleach or wear waterproof gloves.
Gold/Silver Alternatives: If you experience more severe reactions, such as a red, itchy rash, you may be too sensitive to enjoy jewelry made with metal alloys like copper or nickel. In such cases, platinum, rhodium or stainless steel jewelry are more suitable options.
What if a person has a lovely collection of gold jewelry they discover they can’t enjoy? Why not sell to a gold buyer who also deals in fine jewelry crafted from metals like platinum? That’s a win/win solution. Visit a professional jeweler for more information on how to sell gold or to browse collections of jewelry crafted from metals that won’t turn your skin green.