Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

OMG, you try on your new ring and now your finger is green. That beautiful new necklace?  Wore it once and now your neck is green. Yikes!

Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

First of all, relax. It’s not such a big deal. You can fix this. Also, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your jewelry is cheap. Let’s explore what jewelry, even fine jewelry, is made of, why it causes your skin to turn green, and what you can do about it.

What Is Your Jewelry Made Of?

Pure gold or silver won’t cause your skin to turn green and it won’t cause rashes on your skin when you wear it. But it is extremely rare for a piece of jewelry to be made from pure gold or silver. These two precious metals are too soft to be made into jewelry.

Gold and silver are mixed with other metals to make the piece more sturdy, among other reasons. To be called gold or silver, there must be a certain percentage of these metals in the metal alloy. To be considered gold, it must have 10K or 41.7% gold. 10K is the lowest percentage of gold that is considered “real gold”. Sterling silver has to be 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal. Even if you have jewelry that is considered gold, it may have as much as 58.3% of some other metal and sterling silver might have as much as 7.5% of another metal in it.

Cheaper costume jewelry can be made of many metals that look like gold or silver. Brass or bronze looks like gold, but both contain a lot of copper and other metals. Copper is a common material in costume jewelry. Nickel is another common ingredient in metal alloys.

Gold and silver jewelry has other metals mixed into it. Copper is a common metal mixed in with gold and silver. Copper is also used in other alloys such as brass or bronze, which look like gold

Gold and Silver Plating

Some jewelry is gold or silver plated. A non-precious metal, such as copper, is covered with a thin coat of silver or gold. This gives the appearance of the precious metal, while being much less expensive. A problem with plating is that the precious metal coating can wear off, exposing the underlying metal, often copper, to the skin

Copper and Other Metals

Copper is a common material used to make gold and silver alloys. It is customary in alloys used in costume jewelry, is sometimes used just as itself in jewelry, and is often used as a base for gold or silver plating. Other metals often used for these purposes include nickel, zinc, or tin.

What Makes Your Skin Turn Green?

A chemical reaction with your skin and a metal like copper, and some of these other metals, will turn your skin green. Sometimes even the small 7.5% of copper found in sterling silver could cause this reaction in some people.

Factors that influence the green skin include perspiration, heat, humidity, and using lotion. Swimming in chlorine or having soap particles clinging to the jewelry could also cause the chemical reaction that causes skin to turn green.

How To Prevent Your Skin Turning Green?

To prevent this reaction, you can coat the jewelry with clear nail polish. You’d have to keep reapplying the nail polish for this to be effective because it wears off quickly. 

Another, more expensive and longer lasting prevention method, is to have your jewelry plated with rhodium. Rhodium is a very hard metal which is sometimes used to increase the luster of gold and silver and to protect your skin from any other metals in a gold or silver alloy.


If you experience green skin with your jewelry, speak with the knowledgeable staff at Luvari and we will help with prevention and explore jewelry pieces that do not cause this reaction on your skin.

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