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Abrasion, Corrosion & Tarnishing ... why, why, why!

Why Does My Gold Ring Turn My Finger Black Sometimes?

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Cosmetics causing abrasion and corrosion to gold rings

The ring you have is real GOLD.  Then, why does your skin turn black where the ring lies? Contrary to what you believe, you’ll find that the concern is not the legitimacy of the ring, but rather, external forces that are sometimes beyond you. Following this introduction, we’re going to look at three factors you need to know about right now:

  • the environmental
  • chemicals, and
  • biological reasons why your gold ring could be turning your finger black.

 You’ll also learn to look at:

  • What your ring is made of
  • How to Prevent the Discoloration
  • Best care for your Gold Ring

Don’t despair if you have a gold ring and after wearing it for a while, your finger turns black or green.  You might think the reason is bad manufacturing or poor metal quality!  Well, let me reassure that that’s not the problem. 

Read on to see what the causes are and how you can prevent this from happening. 

What is my gold ring made of?

T'rente Princess Cut Gold And Diamond Engagement Ring

Did you know that pure gold, that is, 24k gold is too soft for use in making jewelry? For that reason, jewelers add alloys to give it strength and durability.

Some of these metals used are copper, silver, nickel, and zinc. To make, for example, 14k gold, there needs to be 58.3 percent pure gold that exists in the gold alloy.

With that in mind, you will find that the gold you have is not pure gold. The issue is, therefore, not with the gold but with the other metals present in the gold.

These are what get affected by the environmental, chemical, and biological aspects.

By itself, gold does not tarnish!

  • Environmental

Where you live or go on vacation can have an impact on what happens to your jewelry.

This problem is worse in semi-tropical locations (like when you go on holiday to the Caribbean) or, even just being near the ocean where salt is in the air.

If you live in a humid place and there’s always moisture on your skin, that will cause an increased rate at which tarnishing of the metal takes place.

Where there is salt or chlorine in the air and when these come into contact with your skin, corrosion of your ring begins to take place. 

This is how it happens; the salt or chlorine will rub off very tiny particles of the metal. Very small particles of metal appear black in color rather than metallic, so it looks like black dust.

The black color on your finger is black dust brought about from rubbing against the metal!


  •   Chemical 

The most common reason your finger gets discolored when wearing a gold ring is ‘metallic abrasion’. Makeup or other cosmetics on the skin can cause this.

Cosmetics contain compounds and certain chemicals that are harder than the gold (remember gold is soft). So, the makeup will rub off very tiny particles of the metal. Very small particles of metal appear black in color rather than metallic, so it looks like black dust.

When this dust comes in contact with surfaces that are absorbent, such as your skin or clothing, this dust sticks and forms a black smudge.

Another common reason for the discoloration of your skin is when you are using harsh detergents or chemicals in the house.  You will be experiencing tarnishing of your precious metals when the chemicals in the detergents react with the metal alloy … leaving the black deposits to stick to your ring finger.

So, this discoloration is basically corrosion of the metals in your ring.

The gold does not corrode, but the alloys that are mixed with the gold. (Remember, 14K gold means the ring has 58% of pure gold and 42% of non-gold alloys.) The alloys that can corrode are silver and copper based, and they sometimes form dark chemical compounds under moist conditions.

Chlorine in your pool or spa are very bad news for your Jewelry, they will eat away at the gold and alloys. When you are wearing your rings in the spa or pool, corrosion is slowly but surely happening and you will notice it.

Makeup and chemicals causing corrosion, abrasion and tarnish to rings


  • Biological Reasons

Sweat, fats, and fatty acids are released by your body and will cause corrosion of your gold ring.

Your body chemistry could be what’s causing your finger to turn black.  The sweat on our skin is acidic, and when paired with the alloys on the gold ring, they are bound to cause a reaction and cause tarnishing of your rings, leaving you with the blackish, greenish color on your finger.

Another reason your body could be to blame is simply hormonal changes.  These may from time-to-time cause your ring to react and leave the unsightly mark.

How to prevent the discoloration?

Seven Stone Wedding Ring in Gold and Diamonds

There are some ways that you can enjoy wearing your gold ring without having to worry about a black mark forming underneath.

Metal abrasion - Try switching cosmetics and see if the problem goes away. Remove your rings and jewelry while applying cosmetics. Then wash your hands to remove any makeup residue before you put on your jewelry.

Corrosion of metals - If you are in an area that is causing you to sweat, remove your jewelry often and use an absorbent powder on your fingers or any part of the skin that has jewelry on it. Make sure it does NOT have abrasives in it – invest in zinc oxide-free powder!

Also, when you’re in the shower, in the pool or the ocean, take off your rings. 

It’s not just the skin that you want to keep dry when you’re wearing the jewelry but also the ring itself.

Always, or as often as is possible (not in public areas), remove rings before using soap, cleaning compounds, and detergents. Most importantly, every six months, clean your rings by a reputable jeweler.  At the same time, the settings and prongs can be checked to maintain the integrity of your ring and ensure that it lasts a lifetime and always looks just like new.

If the situation still has not improved consider switching to a higher karat gold, such 18K. 18K gold is 75% pure with 25% comprised of alloys, while 14K has 42% alloys. Less alloy in your ring will help with the corrosion. Or go with platinum.

Discoloration will probably never happen with a platinum ring.

Platinum and Diamond Bridal Set Tarnish Free

Get your ring rhodium plated on the inside. This will work. The cost will run you about $30 - $50. But it won’t last forever. It does wear off from friction and will need to be re-plated over time.

Lastly, some people will apply a coating to the inside of the ring such as nail polish. This acts as a barrier between the metal of the ring and your skin.

I trust that this information has proven useful and helpful to you.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other help needed for your Jewelry and Care of it, please send me an email.

We have vast experience and knowledge. 

Our team is standing by to help and would love to hear from you! 

With love and best wishes, Nicci ♥xo 



Tel 917-346-6268



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