Has wearing certain jewels ever left unpleasant greenish or black traces on your skin? This has happened to almost everyone who wears jewelry. Some people are allergic to different metals and materials, but this staining of the skin is not an allergic reaction. It is a chemical reaction between the skin and the metals used in the creation of the jewel. This reaction is especially noticeable if the jewel is in contact with the skin at places prone to more perspiration.
Copper reacts with the skin and colors it green. Even if the ornament you are wearing is not made entirely of copper, even if it contains just a little amount of this metal, it is still enough to leave traces on your skin. Apart from that, some people’s chemical content of the skin makes it more susceptible to such a reaction.
Some silver may contain up to 7.5% copper and may cause staining, but this type of jewelry leaves black marks. This is a reaction of the silver with gasses in the air, which causes the metal to blacken. Some silver jewels are covered with substances that prevent this darkening, but this plating can wear off in time.
Gold itself almost never colors the skin. However, other metals contained in the golden alloys may do so. Copper, nickel and silver are often used to influence the color of gold, to make it tougher or cheaper and each of these additives can cause skin staining. The lower the carat of gold in your jewels is the less pure gold it contains and the more additional metals are used. Again, the personal element here is strong. Some people show no reaction even to jewels with gold as low as 10 carats, while others are more sensitive and can stain even at a high carat.
Gold plated jewels
If the jewel is covered with a thin layer of gold, the covering may wear off in time exposing the other metals below, which can cause staining. Jewels with a thicker layer of gold are harder to wear off and last much longer before they start leaving traces.
If you are allergic to nickel, staining is the least of the problems you can expect. If you wear jewelry containing this metal, your skin will itch, redden and even inflame at contact.
How to prevent staining of the skin?
- If you are sensitive to certain metals, ask a jeweler if your ornament can be covered or plated with another metal, at least at the parts that are in contact with your skin.
- Cover the contact areas with clear nail polish. Do this only with cheaper jewels to avoid the risk of ruining your expensive jewelry.
- Whenever possible, choose jewels made out of rust-resistant materials, such as stainless steel, especially when you are picking out piercing jewels.
- Titanium is a good choice for people who are sensitive to other metals, because of its neutrality.
- Keep your skin dry when wearing jewelry.
- Platinum is expensive, but it almost never reacts with the skin.
- Do not wear the jewels that cause irritation for prolonged periods of time.
Keep your jewels clean and remove the staining as soon as it appears.