Why does my Gold Ring turn my Finger Black?

Gold is the favorite choice for jewelry for its warm golden luster. The precious metal can be worked into dainty jewelry pieces. The metal is soft and brittle in its pure form. It is mixed with various alloys to increase its strength. The perfect composition and setting of the jewels increase their value. 


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You would love to wear your engagement ring for your whole life. But the blackening of the finger under the gold ring is not a rare sight. You might question the quality of your gold. But the problem might sometimes occur with pure gold. There are various factors at the play.  Before diving into the WHY gold ring turns your finger black, here’s WHAT it is made of?


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WHAT is in the Gold Ring that turns your Finger Black?

Gold is a soft metal with a value of 2.5 on Moh’s scale of hardness. This hardness is not fit for jewelry making. Hence, jewelers use certain metals alloys to enhance their durability. This boosts its hardness to about 4 on the scale. Not all metals can be paired with gold as they might change their color and do more harm than good. 

The problem can be addressed by using metal alloys. Alloys are the mixtures of metals that increase the strength of a certain metal. Alloying metals like silver, nickel, and copper with gold increase its hardness whereas the purity is compromised. 

The purity of gold is expressed in Karat as a percentage of the total (1Karat = 4.166% gold). 24kerat gold is 100% pure. Yet most jewelry is made with 14k or 18k gold. This gold is reduced in fineness; albeit it is more durable and doesn’t scratch easily. Rest amounts for the balanced proportion of various alloys. 

Let’s look at the various compositions of gold and alloys and the subsequent gold color. 

Yellow Gold: Gold is mixed with Silver, Copper, and Zinc. This gives it a nice yellow color to complement your skin tone.

Rose Gold: This consists of Gold, Silver, and an increased Copper content to give it a pink rosy touch. 

White Gold: Gold is alloyed with Copper, Palladium, Zinc, and Nickel.

Rose Gold Ring.JPG

Rose Gold Ring with Three Diamonds

The market for rose gold is in flames. But the pure gold bullion has its value. To carve the jewelry out of it, some alloys have to be mixed. Thus, the jewelry you wear is not 100% pure gold and that might be the prime reason that comes to your mind for color on your finger. But there’s more in the box. 

Why does the Gold Ring turn Finger Black?

Gold is chemically inert and non-corrosive. Thus any reaction that occurs is due to the constituent 42% of the metal alloys. Various chemical, environmental, or biological factors promote these reactions. Let’s list them as;

  1. Metallic Abrasion from Makeup
  2. Corrosion in Moist Habitat
  3. Concave Jewelry Surfaces
  4. Salt and Chlorine in Air
  5. Perspiration from the body

Metallic Abrasion from Makeup

Metallic abrasion is the most common reason for the blackening of the skin. And makeup (cosmetics) might be a factor. You might not notice, but the finely grained cosmetic products could wear off the metal surfaces. These particles, harder than the gold (soft); rub off the tiny metal particles. This results in a fine jet-black dust that sticks to the skin (most absorptive route of the body) and turns it black. Finely powdered metals appear black instead of metallic. 

Chemicals in the makeup and cleansing products also react with the metal alloys and expose the basic/alkaline metals. They might also turn your finger dark. 


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Corrosion in Moist Habitat

Your habitat not only affects your mood but also affects your jewelry. Living in a humid place and wearing the gold jewelry, ring mostly exposes it to moisture. Gold itself is noncorrosive. But the large proportions of metal alloys in gold are. The corrosion of the metal alloys under moist conditions forms compounds that result in a black smudge on your skin.

Reaction with Chemicals

Concave surfaces of the jewelry can hold moisture and reactants. They might also react with the metal alloys. Wearing gold jewelry while going for a shower, swimming, exercise or any physical activity that involves water/chemicals may also cause the blackening of the finger. The metal alloys react with chemicals in soaps and detergents in corrosion reaction. They may also cause physical damage to your jewelry such as abrasion. 


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Salt and Chlorine in Air

If you are living along the coast, there’s chlorine, sulfur, or salt in the atmosphere. It might react with nickel, copper, or silver alloys in gold. Chlorine is also present in the water we utilize for washing and cleansing purposes at home or spa, even in swimming pools. This causes the corrosion reaction and thus blackening of the finger.  

Perspiration from the body

Sweat comprises waste chemicals released from our body through the skin. It is acidic in pH. Also, the body pH of some individuals is naturally acidic. Metal alloys might react with sweat acids and cause discoloration of the body. You might need to cut down your acidic diet if it is the reason for the spot on your finger.

How to prevent the Blackening of Finger?

The blackening of the finger from either abrasive or corrosive reactions is inevitable with 18k, 14k, or lower qualities of gold. As these contain metal alloys. If you want to wear your favorite engagement ring or anniversary gift without worrying about the blackening of your finger; you might want to know how to care for it. 

Keep your Hands Dry

The best way to keep your ring from tainting is to keep it dry. Avoid wearing your ring while washing hands or dishes or visiting a spa, leave your ring in a safe box. Also, consider this while going for a shower or swimming. 

Take off the ring before applying moisturizer on your hands or makeup. The chemicals in these products would react with metal alloys, resulting in the blackening of the finger. 

You can also apply finely powdered moisture absorbents on the skin like zinc oxide-free powder. 

No Jewelry before Makeup

To avoid the abrasion problem from cosmetics, switch your cosmetics. Remove your jewels before applying makeup. Wash and dry your hands properly after makeup to remove residual products. This will protect your ring as well as your finger from getting dark. 


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Use Jewelry Lacquers

You can avoid the blackening by sealing off space between your finger and ring. Apply it to the inner part of the ring. You can also coat the inside with nail paint. Don’t forget to refurbish the coat. 

Another viable solution to this problem is the Rhodiumplated ring. Rhodium is plated on the inside of the ring. It gives it a decent finish and prevents the corrosive reactions of the metal alloys. It is an exurbias investment and would need to be re-plated over time.

Keep your Ring Clean

Before going to bed, take off your ring. Clean it with a soft cloth and an appropriate cleaning solution. The cleaning solution reduces the risk of corrosion and tarnish. Be extra gentle while rubbing the surfaces and curves (if any) as you might wear off the finely divided soft metal.

Consume a less acidic diet

As discussed earlier, pH can be a contributing factor for a minority of people. This would sound ridiculous, but eating less acidic food could help maintain your body pH. And subsequently, protect from blackening your finger.

To wrap it up, it doesn’t require any effort to avoid the dark black band around the finger. You just need to care for your casual routine. Avoid moisture and abrasion. Apply a sealant on the inside. Eat a healthful diet. And don’t forget to take off the ring when doing your household chores or going to the spa. You would not regret taking extra care of your gold ring.

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