Why jewellery turns your skin green

Jewellery, Jewellery skin discolouration, Skin Discolouration -

Why jewellery turns your skin green

We've all been there, you've put on some of your favourite jewellery and when you've removed it, you've noticed it's turned your skin green, or even black! But why?


What Exactly Causes It?

Well, there are a number of reasons behind this but they come down primarily to chemical reactions and/or the type of metal.


  • Perspiration

You will find that on hot days or when exercising that this discolouration happens more often. This is because our sweat contains tiny particles of salt. Although microscopic these, especially if they build up, will corrode your jewellery and cause a chemical reaction that leaves the marks on your skin.

  • Lotions and make up
What's the last thing you do before putting jewellery on? If it's to put on body lotion or make up you're not alone! However, this is very likely the cause of the discolouration you then see. This is because they often contain particles which are harder than the jewellery itself and therefore add to the corrosion mentioned above. This will then rub off on your skin creating the mark you see.
  • Cleaning and swimming

I have bulked these two together because the same culprit is to blame in both cases - Chlorine! Chlorine will wear at the jewellery you wear causing it to break down. As above, this will again result in this being rubbed off on your skin.



What Metals Are Affected?

There is a misconception that it is only cheap jewellery that is affected. Whilst it is true that copper is the most common culprit and therefore most often found in cheap jewellery it also happens with sterling silver and gold jewellery.

This is because in both cases, it is rarely pure silver and gold (with the slight exception of gold). Silver is marked 925 because there is 92.5% silver in Sterling silver jewellery. The rest is made up of alloys, often copper and it's this copper that causes the reaction.

You are less likely to find this occurs with high end gold - 18 carat or 24 carat. Simply because these contain most pure gold. There is however, still often some copper in with 18 carat. With 24 carat the corrosion caused by particles harder than the gold itself still applies.


How To Prevent It?

This is one of those caes when prevention is definitely better than the cure!

  • When showering, swimming, washing up or cleaning take off your jewellery. This will keep it protected from any chemicals that will cause the corrosion
  • Leave a bit of a gap between applying body lotions and putting on your jewellery. This won't completely prevent the chemicals from affecting your jewellery but will give them a chance to be absorbed by your skin and therefore lessen the effect. If possible, leave lotion out completely when wearing them.
  • Clean your jewellery regularly with the proper cleaners. This will prevent any build up of chemicals that will wear your jewellery down.



Even allowing for all of that however, it is sometimes inevitable that discolouration will happen. The important thing to note here is that it is a completely harmless reaction and so nothing to worry about and it isn't an indicator of lower quality jewellery. Simply remove and clean it before putting it back on. This not only helps to prevent it happening again but also preserves the life of your jewellery. To remove the marks from your body soap and water is often enough, if you find you need a little bit more then rubbing alcohol will completely remove it and then follow with soap and water.


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