Why do some rings turn your fingers green?

It’s a well known fact that some cheap rings will turn your fingers green. But what about those made of sterling silver or gold? It can occasionally happen with more expensive rings and other jewellery. Read this informative article to find out the reason why some people have green fingers.

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Pure gold or silver will not cause you to have green fingers.

hallmark notice how to avoid green fingersThe discoloration of jewelry is caused not by gold or silver itself but by the presence of copper which is in the metal. Most sterling silver and even gold contains a percentage of other metals such as copper or nickel. Plated rings are more prone to cause green fingers due to a higher percentage of copper used in the base metal. It’s a property of the copper reacting with oxygen in the air or sweat and/or oil produced on your skin. This may even show as a discoloration of the skin when wearing the ring. However this is nothing to worry about and is quite harmless.

If your budget is not a great concern, always buy gold with a high karat rating as it will contain less copper and other elements. The same goes for silver. It is possible to find sterling silver that contains palladium or some other metal like platinum. It tends to be more expensive but is well worth the expense if skin discoloration is a problem for you.

Try to avoid cheaper plated or ‘gold clad’ rings

Gold plated rings seem to be the worst for staining your skin. This is because the plating wears off relatively quickly and then exposes the base metal which will soon tarnish due to contact with oils that are produced by your skin .

If you are buying a plated ring, try to get one with a thick plating which tends to last much longer.

This problem can be helped by cleaning the ring with a soft cloth before and after use. Some people recommend coating the ring with clear nail varnish. Although this practice works very well, unfortunately it doesn’t last long and looks unsightly as the varnish flakes off. You are better off using a good quality car wax which will protect the ring from oxidation.

Is anyone really allergic to cheap jewellery?

Contrary to popular belief, very few people are allergic to copper used in the manufacturer of cheap jewelry. Oxidation on the skin is not dangerous but just looks a bit unsightly. All you need to do to avoid green fingers is to keep your ring clean and dry by polishing with a soft cloth. It’s also better to remove all jewelry before sleeping, swimming, dishwashing and before taking a shower as some skin creams and detergents may also react with the metal.

Rings are more prone to discoloration than other jewellery such as pendants, necklaces and bracelets as they are worn close to the skin. This does not allow for air to circulate around the metal. Your finger will produce oils and sweat which will be trapped under  your ring and cause discoloration.

Anyone that gets a rash or itchy skin when wearing some jewelry is more than likely allergic to nickel. This is often used in the production of jewellery in order to reduce cost. Fortunately in many countries, there is now legislation in place to prevent widespread use of nickel in jewellery.

Keep your jewelry clean

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping your jewelry clean. This is the only thing that will protect the ring and your skin from turning green.

You might notice that many people wear copper bracelets almost every day without a trace of discoloration on their skin. This is because bracelets are not normally worn tight around the wrist and have air circulation which doesn’t seem to cause the same problems as a tightly worn ring.

Similarly, chains worn around the neck and pendants don’t suffer so much from discoloration as they are constantly moving and unless you have oily skin they do not tend to stick to it.

You should take off your jewellery every night and wipe it with a clean cloth. This will remove any sweat or body oils and reduce the likelihood of any corrosion and/or discoloration.

Occasionally you should apply a coating of car or jewelry wax as mentioned above. This is the best way to avoid oxidation of rings and other jewellery. It will also prevent it from turning your skin green.

Try to avoid using any kind of varnish or sealer as this will soon become unsightly and you will no longer want to wear your piece of jewelry.

Additional methods of cleaning rings and jewelery

If your ring is badly tarnished or discolored, there are several ways to restore its original brightness.

You will probably have lemon juice or vinegar and salt already in your kitchen cupboard. These can be used together by applying to a soft cloth and gently polishing the tarnished area of the ring After that rinse with water and dry the ring thoroughly. You can then apply a coating of car wax to avoid further tarnishing.

In extreme cases a glass of white vinegar can be used to soak the ring for a while until the tarnish has gone.

Many commercial cleaners are available and can also be used to clean your jewelry at home. However, be careful not to use powders or anything abrasive especially when cleaning plated or ‘clad’ items.

Most cleaning of jewellery can be done yourself at home. However if it is an expensive item you should always take it to a jeweler for professional cleaning.

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I have been working in the fashion and jewellery industry since the mid 1970s when I started work in a seaside gift shop selling costume jewellery and fashion accessories. I worked for many years in the UK as a musician and electronics engineer and started my own business in 1995 as the owner of Ringmania.
After living in Phuket, Thailand for 15 years, I am now based in Sheffield UK since July 2019
Please contact me using the link below if you have any questions about Ringmania or any of our products/services.

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