There is nothing worse than choosing a beautiful piece of jewelry to finish your outfit and then to find out, several hours later, that it has left a greenish-black mark on your skin. Most staining of the skin by jewelry isn’t because you are allergic to your favorite ring or bracelet. Staining of the skin generally occurs because we perspire beneath our jewelry and the contents of our sweat react chemically with the jewelry. Taking a medication that changes the acidity of your skin may also cause the jewelry to turn black and this tarnish may be rubbed off on the skin.
Some types of jewelry will cause staining more than others. In particular, copper will cause your skin to stain a greenish blue. Other metals, including some gold and sterling silver, have a small but significant copper content, which is designed to increase the hardness of the jewelry. If you wear low-karat gold, the copper content will be higher and the chances of your skin staining are much higher.
Cheaper gold jewelry, such as gold-plated jewelry can also cause skin staining. This occurs mostly when the outer plating wears off, exposing the inexpensive base metal to corrosive elements such as moisture and salt that discolor the base metal. If your jewelry is gold-filled, rather than gold-plated, the outer layer is thicker and will wear less quickly.
There are ways to eliminate staining from jewelry. In this instance, more expensive jewelry does mean better quality! Choosing 18 karat gold, over less pure forms of the precious metal, may help to eliminate staining. Platinum, whilst very expensive, is quite stable and will rarely react with skin. Titanium is also a very stable metal and is great for people with skin allergies, as well as those who find that other jewelry stains their skin.
It is often possible to have your jeweler coat your jewelry with a layer of new metal, or to apply a clear protective film to the areas of the jewelry which will come into contact with your skin. If this isn’t possible (or is too expensive) you may wish to consider painting these surfaces with a layer of clear nail varnish. Applying zinc oxide free absorbent powder on moist areas of the skin that are in contact with the jewelry may prevent the chemical reaction between the sweat and the jewelry.
In many ways, caring for your jewelry can also care for you. If you keep your jewelry clean and tarnish free, there is less chance that it will stain your skin. Keeping your jewelry dry will prevent corrosion, thus improving its lifespan and will also reduce staining.
Sometimes, wearing certain items of jewelry for a short period of time will not cause staining, so don’t despair that your favorite bracelet or ring needs to be thrown out – perhaps wearing it less and for shorter durations will help eliminate staining.
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