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At one point or another, most of us have worn a piece of jewelry that has turned our skin green or black. While allergies can play some role in this discoloration, there are plenty of other reason your jewelry may be responsible for the unsightly stains.
One of the most common reasons that your jewelry can turn your skin colors is oxidation. The metals in the piece will often begin oxidizing when they mix with the sweat and oils present in your skin. When the jewelry rubs against your skin it will leave a discolored tint where the metal touches your skin.
Copper is the metal in your jewelry that is most responsible for turning your skin green. When copper oxidizes it leaves behind green rust. It has been shown that some people are more susceptible to staining when wearing copper. These people seem to have body chemistry that is prone to reacting to copper. Rust due to oxidation can also turn your skin a greenish color.
Sterling silver can also cause skin discoloration. Jewelry made from this metal will usually leave behind a blackish stain. Because copper makes up 7.5 percent of the composition of sterling silver you might think that the resulting stain would be green. However, sterling silver will generally turn your skin black because the metal tarnishes easily.
Some products have protective coatings that are supposed to prevent the jewelry from tarnishing. However, these coats will eventually wear off and the metals will eventually darken as the sterling silver reacts with the gases in the air.
Pure gold will not usually leave stains on your skin. The purity of gold is measured in karats. The lower the number of karats of your piece of jewelry the more other metals besides gold it contains. For example, metal is sometimes combined with nickel, copper, or silver. These additional metals will strengthen the jewelry and make it more durable. They also are frequently used to change the color of the gold and make the piece more affordable. Adding these metals will lower the purity of the gold and make it more likely to stain your skin.
This is why some people can only wear high karat gold jewelry. Many people must buy 18 karat gold in order to avoid the discoloring effects that are often common with lesser karat pieces.
Jewelry that is gold plated often causes stains on the skin as well. This is because gold plated jewelry is made with a thin layer of gold covering less expensive and less valuable materials. This layer of gold will eventually wear off and the metals beneath will react with your skin and cause discoloration.
Gold filled jewelry is similar to gold plated. The major difference is that gold-filled pieces are covered with a thicker layer of gold. While this layer may stand up longer than gold plated pieces, it too will eventually erode. When the base metals are exposed, the skin can be discolored.
Skin discoloration is often associated with cheap jewelry, and because of this stains on the skin can often be embarrassing. To avoid these colored marks you should purchase jewelry made from pure gold or platinum. While these metals are more expensive, they rarely stain the skin.
You should also try to purchase jewelry that is hypo-allergenic. This jewelry is perfect for people with skin that is highly sensitive to certain metals. However, if you know that you are allergic to a specific metal, because your skin becomes red and itchy, you should make attempts to avoid wearing jewelry made from it altogether.