Why Does Some Jewelry Turn Skin Green?


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Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

It’s not uncommon for certain jewelry items to leave a greenish stain on your skin. While this may look alarming or unsightly, it’s a natural chemical reaction and nothing that you need to worry about. If you’re concerned about jewelry discoloring your skin, it helps to understand which metals do this and why. We’ll also provide some tips and tricks for preventing this reaction and retaining the beautiful appearance of your jewelry.

Why Does Jewelry Make My Skin Green?

Copper plater Jewelry

Copper reacts very noticeably to the air and certain chemicals. This is evidenced by the oxidation that you see in copper jewelry. If you don’t regularly clean pieces that contain copper, they’ll take on a dark patina of sulfides, carbonates, sulfates, and chlorides. Eventually, the metal will turn black. Copper also reacts to the oils in your skin and the salt from your sweat. 

Everyone’s skin composition is different, so copper doesn’t have the same reaction for every individual. You may even notice that copper pieces react more noticeably on some days than others. This is caused by variable factors such as humidity levels, the amount of sweat on your skin, and skincare products you’ve used.

What Types of Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

Any jewelry that contains copper may turn your skin green. This includes not only pure copper jewelry but also alloys that contain copper. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, brass is comprised of 66% copper, and bronze is 90 to 97% copper. Though 24-carat gold is pure, all lower caratages contain other metals. Yellow and rose gold contain the following amounts of copper:

  • 9-carat yellow gold: 20% copper.
  • 10-carat yellow gold: 6.3% copper.
  • 14-carat yellow gold: 11.7% copper.
  • 18-carat yellow gold: 10% copper.
  • 22-carat yellow gold: 2% copper.
  • 9-carat rose gold: 42.5% copper.
  • 10-carat rose gold: 38.3% copper.
  • 14-carat rose gold: 32.5% copper.
  • 18-carat rose gold: 22.2% copper.
  • 22-carat rose gold: 8.4% copper.

The higher the copper content, the more reaction you’ll see. Keep in mind that your unique body chemistry also plays a big role in how copper reacts to your skin. Some individuals may experience noticeable skin coloring from even small amounts of copper, while others will see little to no effect.

Is It OK To Wear Jewelry That Turns Skin Green?

The patina that rubs off on your skin isn’t harmful. The only problem with your skin turning green is the aesthetic appearance. If your skin turns red or becomes itchy, you may be allergic to one of the alloys in the metal. In this case, you shouldn’t wear the piece.

How Do I Fix Jewelry That Turns My Skin Green?

Pure copper jewelry is often treated with a varnish or wax that will prevent oxidation for a time. This eventually wears off, and the jewelry must be recoated periodically to sustain this effect. Many alloyed jewelry items are rhodium-plated to prevent oxidation. If your jewelry isn’t already rhodium-plated, this is a service that some jewelers offer. It typically costs $50 to $75 to have a ring plated in rhodium, so you shouldn’t let copper content deter you from buying a piece that you love.

How Can I Prevent Copper From Turning My Skin Green?

If you don’t want to have your jewelry coated or plated, there are some steps that you can take to minimize the effect that it has on your skin. 

Know When To Wear Copper

Sweat tends to increase oxidation, so you should avoid wearing copper jewelry on hot days or during strenuous activities. Copper is an excellent choice for winter weather as long as you’re not bundling up in gloves that make your hands sweaty. Never swim wearing copper jewelry. The chlorine in pool water reacts significantly with copper. The salt in seawater can also speed up the oxidation process.

Take off your copper jewelry any time you’re using cleaning products. Many cleaning supplies contain chlorine and other chemicals that react with copper. While you can always wear gloves to protect your jewelry from the cleaning agents, this will probably make your hands sweat, which creates a problem of its own.

Keep Your Jewelry Clean

Regularly remove your copper jewelry and clean it. Not only will this remove some of the discoloration from oxidation, but it will also remove soap particles, lotions, dirt, sweat, and other contaminants that can cling to copper and speed up its oxidation. You can clean jewelry made of copper or alloys that contain copper with household products that you’re likely to have on hand, such as:

  • Salt and lemon juice diluted in water.
  • A paste of baking soda and water.
  • A paste of baking soda and lemon juice.
  • Vinegar and salt.

Gently scrub the piece with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Rinse the item immediately after cleaning it. Dry and polish the jewelry thoroughly with a microfiber cloth. 

If your jewelry has rhodium plating or another type of protective coating, you should only clean it lightly with a microfiber cloth because you don’t want to damage the coating. You can also take your items to a professional jeweler for a more thorough cleaning.

What Are the Benefits of Copper Jewelry?

Copper’s color-changing effect has given it a bad reputation as a jewelry material. However, there are many purported benefits of wearing copper. Raw copper is believed to have healing properties, as some of the copper is absorbed into the skin. This may help reduce arthritis pain and improve circulation. Metaphysically, copper is known as a grounding metal that improves energy flow.

Find Precious Pieces You’ll Love

Now that you understand copper better, you can shop confidently for beautiful jewelry pieces. Americash Jewelry & Coin Buyer has an ever-changing collection for you to explore. Come visit us today and see what’s in stock. You can also sell us your unwanted jewelry. We offer quick appraisals and cash payments on the spot. 

brown wooden bird house ornament by Mykola/Kolya Korzh is licensed with Unsplash License

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