If a person has a natural high acidity level in his/her skin, it is possible for his/her finger to “turn green” from silver or gold jewelry, or for silver jewelry to blacken especially when the weather is hot and humid. The green is actually caused by oxidation, and all silver will oxidize (it’s also what gives silver a tarnished look). There are some costume jewelry items that cause the same effect. Most of them contain nickel. It’s not poisonous in small quantities but it can provoke a reaction in people allergic to nickel. This “green finger effect” and the tarnishing of silver may also be an allergic reaction to alloy elements in sterling silver or gold. In some cases, the alloys, used to make jewelry more durable, may react with your body chemistry, chemicals in the air and household chemicals such as soap, salt and sun tan lotion causing a harmless green or black discoloration on the skin, which can be easily removed with soap and water, silver cleaner or with a polish cloth. For this reason, most retail silver jewelry and white gold jewelry is plated with rhodium, which serves as a defensive layer and prevents this reaction from happening to anyone with allergy.
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver jewelry is usually made of a precious metal mixed with a metal alloy. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver, with the remaining 7.5% made up of other metals. Common metal alloys include nickel and copper to strengthen the silver since it is soft. Metal alloys can cause an allergic reaction, causing a black or green ring to form around the finger. The acid in your skin can also cause a reaction with some metals, which can result in discoloration. Most sterling jewelry pieces are plated with rhodium that prevent tarnishing and green figure but it can wear off eventually.
How to prevent discoloration from silver jewelry?
Generally harmless and basic household chemicals, alloys, and acid should not keep you from wearing your rings. There are many things you can do to prevent the dreaded green or black finger stain. Remove your rings before swimming in swimming pools or hot tubs. Chlorine is a chemical. Avoid wearing your rings when handling any household cleaning products they are chemicals. Even hair spray, perfume and sun tan lotion are simple chemicals that can react with your jewelry and its finish. It a good idea to also remove your rings at night and clean them regularly. If these tips aren’t enough to prevent your rings from leaving a stain on your finger, consider taking your rings or chains to your local jeweler to have it coated or re-coated with rhodium on the inside to prevent a reaction. Your local jeweler can coat your jewelry usually fast and for an affordable amount.