Busting the Myth: Why does Silver cause Fingers to go Green?

Posted by Lee Donaldson on

Being green fingered is a desirable quality if you’re a keen gardener, but if you’re wearing jewellery? Not so much.The green staining from jewellery has often been associated with cheap or poor quality metals, but that isn’t the case.

We’re myth busting this one today so you can dig out the jewellery you discarded because it made your skin green and enjoy them again.

It’s not because of Cheap Metals

It’s a common myth your skin turns green because you’ve bought a ring that isn’t made from real silver. It’s actually possible to get green staining from high quality silver and you can get the same reaction from copper. Many people will wear a tight copper bracelet because of their supposed health benefits and these too will often turn skin green.

The effects are not seen in gold or platinum. Why? It’s because of how moisture on your skin reacts to the alloy in some metals. The reason you rarely see a similar reaction in silver necklaces is because these are free moving and rarely sit tightly on the skin.

A Chemical Reaction

The alloys in silver and copper react to the acids in moisture, which causes the metal to tarnish and your skin to turn green. Moisture such as sweat, water, or even humidity in the environment can cause this reaction, called oxidisation, to occur.

The metal has to be genuine silver or copper for this reaction to happen, cheaper alloys won’t have the same effect. Contrary to popular myth – if your skin turns green your jewellery has to be real silver.

Avoiding Green Fingers

You could avoid silver and copper altogether, but that would limit your jewellery collection. Many contemporary designs are made from silver, why would you avoid the perfect ring just because it may cause your fingers to go green?
You could also try to stop sweating, or avoid water and humidity, but that’s not practical!

The trick is to take proper care of your jewellery. If you are investing in a ring, taking care of it will keep it looking good and put an end to the oxidisation.

  1. Clean your jewellery regularly, if your silver jewellery tarnishes you can remove this by soaking it in hot water with a salt and baking soda solution. You can also get it professionally cleaned.
  2. Take steps to prevent your jewellery coming into contact with water. Take off your rings when you wash your hands or when you do any household chores that include water.
  3. You could use clear nail polish to coat the inside surface of your ring. This prevents sweat coming into contact with the metal to stop oxidisation happening.


No More Green Fingers

Green fingers aren’t caused by cheap metals, they are caused by the chemical reaction between moisture and the alloys in silver and copper. Preventing green fingers is easy: clean your jewellery regularly and, when wearing them, take steps to prevent the metals coming into contact with water.
Silver is a popular choice for modern jewellery designs and forgoing it because it may cause your skin to go green would severely limit your jewellery collection. By understanding what causes the problem, and preventing and removing the tarnish, your silver jewellery will continue to look great for many years.

By Sharon Coleman

Sharon Coleman is a freelance writer and loves to write about consumer products. You can find more of her articles at www.thewordworld.com

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