Green Fingers

Wait! My finger turned green!

Wait! My finger turned green!

Or grey, or black.

The good news is that usually that dirty stain on your finger will wash off with soap and water. So what the heck is going on?

I’ve done some research online and – surprise, surprise – the internet has conflicting, even far-fetched information. I’m pretty sure that it is not caused by evil spirits. Chemicals, alloys and acid in jewelry can all play a part in causing that semi-permanent black or green ring around your finger. Knowing how it happens can help you avoid the stain and keep your jewelry in good condition.

Chemicals, including lotions and creams, can cause that annoying discoloration around your finger. Household cleaners, especially chlorine, will eat away gold. Sterling silver, and many other metals are damaged as well. Just think about how many household wipes, sprays, and cleaning foams have chlorine in them today! Lotions and body creams have components that are harder than metals in them. This sounds far-fetched, but how many creams now contain “minerals” as a major component. These minerals can wear off microscopic pieces of metal that do not reflect light, causing discoloration around the finger. Salty air can also create a chemical reaction when mixed with sweat. But even without salty air, your skin’s pH balance can react with the metals causing a reaction. If there is copper in the jewelry then acidic sweat or a lotion can cause the creation of “copper salts” that stain the skin blue-green. This is the same reaction that gives the Statue of Liberty her iconic color. Metal alloys can also cause oxidation or even an allergic reaction, causing a black or green ring to form around the finger.

How do I prevent the green?

Since I make jewelry, me saying “not wearing it is the easiest option.” borders on insanity, so instead I’ll tell you… the easiest way to prevent it is to “paint” the areas of the jewelry that touches your skin with clear nail polish. This is a temporary fix as the nail polish will wear away eventually, but it will help prevent the staining.

Although these marks are often associated with cheaper jewelry, they can happen with the pricey stuff, too. And it is harmless. Don’t let it stand in the way of your enjoying the jewelry.

BUT if it itches or causes redness, then it’s an allergy and you can’t ignore that. Maybe its time to pass that piece of jewelry on and look for something else.

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