bangles, jewelry, fashionable

What jewelry turns skin green?

Love for jewelry among women is undeniable across the globe. They love to accessorize different pieces of jewelry with special outfits on special occasions or even some love to wear one to two rings casually all the time. But sometimes you might observe discoloration of your skin that is kind of embarrassing. Mostly turning of skin green is not as harmful but some people with sensitive skin might suffer from allergic reactions as well causing itching and redness of your skin. 


Few hours after wearing jewelry discoloration of skin like an unsightly green hue occur due to oxidation reaction. Following are the possible reasons for that 

  1. Body’s acidity level 

The reaction of metal/alloy in jewelry and skin acids on perspiration causes discoloration of skin. The skin’s acids are released in the form of sweat react with copper and undergo oxidation reaction. 

Some studies claim that low levels of iron in the body also cause lower pH and increase the body’s acidity levels. Thus increase the risk of oxidation reaction leading to discoloration of skin

  1. Metal abrasion

It is due to the reaction of ring with some substance like lotion/ cream on hands. Mostly metal abrasion occurs in moist and humid conditions that enhance the oxidation reaction of copper.   Although it is not harmful to most people, try to put off the ring when applying lotions or cream. 

  1. Corrosion of jewelry 

Some jewelry metals undergo corrosion under specific conditions leaving a green hue on the skin. Plating of such metallic jewelry can easily fix this problem

  1. Metal content 

The type and quality of metal used in jewelry play an important role in the discoloration of skin. The jewelry containing high content of metals like copper and nickel that have a high tendency to undergo oxidation reaction and more likely to cause discoloration. 

Similarly quality of the plating done on the jewelry also matters. If the quality of plating is not good, its abrasion will expose the base metals leading to oxidation and discoloration of skin. 

Not everyone wearing the ring or jewelry undergo discoloration of the skin. It means it is due to biological responses and genetic predisposition that in some people it happens more frequently. 


Metals that causes discoloration of the skin

Jewelry is made up of different metals to impart different properties in the jewelry. It is never made up of only gold or only because that would be too soft to use as jewelry. Most metals are unharmed but some can undergo oxidation reaction resulting in discoloration of the skin. This is a common reaction mostly caused by the high content of copper in jewelry. But not only copper many other metals and alloys also cause discoloration.

Here is the detailed analysis of some metals that can lead to discoloration of skin 

  • Copper 

It is the metal used either alone or in combination with other metals in the form of alloys for jewelry making. The addition of copper is mandatory for the hardness or rigidity of the jewelry. Although copper is necessary but it also undergoes oxidation reaction causing discoloration of the skin. The copper after oxidation reaction produces copper oxide that is responsible for discoloration. Thus the amount of copper used in jewelry determines the extent of discoloration. Greater the % of copper in jewelry more will be the chances of discoloration of the skin. 

Some studies suggest that there are some holistic benefits of wearing copper as jewelry. It claims that the reaction between copper and skin in case of skin perspiration results in chelated copper pieces that on absorption into the skin causes discoloration of skin into a green hue. This reaction is found effective in case of arthritis and circulation issues. 

  • Nickel 

It is considered a metal allergen as it causes allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. It is recommended to avoid using jewelry that is made up of nickel as other than discoloration, it causes inflammation as well.  

  • Alloys 

Most alloys used for jewelry making are made up of copper and nickel. Both copper and nickel are responsible for the discoloration of the skin. However, this discoloration caused by alloys can be prevented by rhodium plating of jewelry made up of such alloys. The plating should be of high quality as low quality or very thin plating will be worn out faster leading to exposure of base metals and discoloration of the skin.

  • Brass 

It is an alloy made up of copper and zinc and can be used in jewelry making. Jewelry made from brass is cheap so many people afford to buy it. Because of copper content, oxidation is a common reaction that causes skin discoloration on exposure to humidity, skin oils and sweat. 

  • Bronze 

Bronze is also an alloy of copper and tin. The copper content in the alloy is mainly responsible for oxidation reaction and discoloration of the skin

  • Silver 

Silver is the metal available naturally in liquid form and mixed with alloys to make them hard enough for jewelry making. Mostly copper is added for hardening and rigidity in the case of jewelry making. Sterling silver is one of the most beloved raw materials for making jewelry. It consists of different percentages of copper added to the silver. It is recommended to add less than 8% copper in silver for jewelry making. Sterling silver having 88% silver and 23% copper has high chance of discoloration of the skin. Sterling silver with 92.5% silver and 7.5 % other metal like copper, zinc or other alloys are less likely to cause discoloration of the skin. 

Other than the percentage of copper, wearing sterling silver jewelry continuously especially on hot days or during strenuous exercise also causes discoloration of the skin. As perspiration increase the chances of skin discoloration, so it is recommended to put off sterling silver jewelry during a hot day or high-intensity work out day. 

  • 18k Gold

The purity of gold is classified in terms of carats. The higher the number of carats more is the purity of gold. 24k gold is considered pure gold as it contains a lesser amount of other metals or alloys. In the case of 18k gold, it consists of gold and other metals in 18:6 parts. Metals added to gold can be copper, nickel and silver thus prone to oxidation reaction and discoloration of the skin. 


If you are prone to skin discoloration on wearing certain types of metallic jewelry you have to follow the below-mentioned precautions to avoid it. 

  • Use a polymer barrier

Barrier products like Jeweler skin guard can be applied on jewelry to avoid direct contact of metal and skin. 

  • Avoid low-quality jewelry 

The low quality plating or jewelry containing high content of copper is mostly cheap and easily available. Avoid using low-quality products to avoid skin discoloration or allergies. 

  • Apply nail polish 

A thin coat of clear nail polish coat can also be applied at the back of your ring; it creates a polymer physical barrier between the metal ring and skin finger

  • Keep your skin dry at all times

As already mentioned oxidation reactions occur more frequently in humid or moist conditions so try to keep your skin clean and dry all time while wearing jewelry.

Remove your copper metallic jewelry while cleaning as many cleaning solutions contains chlorine in it. Copper and chlorine can give an adverse chemical reaction against your skin. 

Avoid swimming while having the metallic jewelry on, as chlorine in swimming water and copper in jewelry can produce an intense chemical reaction against skin

  • Buy hypoallergic jewelry 

Hypoallergic jewelry is less likely to cause an allergic reaction even among people with sensitive skin. Some of such metals are high karat gold, platinum, niobium, tungsten carbide and stainless steel. Jewelry from these metals is trending and available in different unique designs.

  • Wear for a shorter duration

Prefer to wear copper-containing jewelry for a shorter duration. It is recommended to wear your ring during day time but takes it off at night time; perspiration might enhance the oxidation reaction leading to discoloration of the skin.

  • Rhodium plating

In the case of alloy jewelry, prefer to have rhodium plating over it as it provides the physical barrier between the jewelry and skin thus avoids contact of metal with skin oils causing oxidation reaction. Ensure the plating must be of high quality to avoid wearing out of the physical barrier. 

  • Avoid moisture contact 

It is advisable to keep lotions and cream away from such metallic rings. As the reaction between the metal and these skin products can be adverse. Secondly, moisture contact should be limited to avoid discoloration of the skin 

  • Hygiene measures 

Wash your hands after taking it off or putting the ring on again. Clean your jewelry regularly to remove all the dust, cream or lotion particles.

Before buying any jewelry ensure it’s of high quality and its metallic composition so that you can enjoy wearing it for a longer time. Skin discoloration due to jewelry is mostly harmless and temporary. By following the above-mentioned precautions it can be avoided and you can enjoy wearing your favorite jewelry with grace.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *