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Green fingers from 14 kt gold rings

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Q. I have several 14 kt gold rings and have had them for a long time and recently they have began turning my fingers green like a fake gold ring would. If you have any suggestions I would like to know what is causing this.

Misty Odeleted
- Bethany, Missouri


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A. Hi Misty,
I have heard some people complain about green fingers from rings, but most of them were wearing cheaper type jewelry. As you probably know, 14K is 14 parts gold out of 24 parts. the other percentage could be Copper, Zinc, Nickel and a number of other cast alloying metals. You could take them to a jeweler that can test the rings to see if they are gold. Being stamped 14K does not always mean they are. There have been reports of fly by night jewelry stores selling plated rings stamped on the inside 14K. Most of them are in prison now. If they are gold you may have an allergy to the cast alloy, maybe nickel or copper.A good dermatologist can test for those allergies. You could try cleaning the rings in a small ultrasonic jewelry cleaner [linked by editor to info at Amazon]. Good Luck

Mark Baker
process engineer - Malone, New York


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Q. My boyfriend and I recently bought each other rings from Tiffany's. We slept with the rings on, but when we woke up our fingers were green. The rings are sterling silver. What is causing this?

Missy C deleted
- Martinsburg, West Virginia


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A. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver 92.5% and copper 7.5%. When it is worked by a jeweler it will be heated if it is soldered. As a result it may become coated in red copper oxide. Usually this is removed by pickling in a solution of sodium bisulphite which produces a weak sulphuric acid solution. If you have a ring that has not been properly pickled prior to polishing it may still have copper on its surface that will react with your perspiration to make a green copper compound that stains the skin.

I would suggest soaking your rings in a mixture of household ammonia and water (50/50)for a day or two. The ammonia solution will turn blue as it forms a copper ammonia ion and this will not hurt the silver. After that, your rings will not turn your skin green because the copper has been removed from the surface of the sterling.

Another problem with sterling silver is that it can turn black if you eat a lot of garlic. Again perspiration attacks the silver and in this case I am not sure of the chemical reaction. Proper pickling and polishing will remove the black and restore the silver to its glory.

If possible get your silver plated with rhodium and it will never tarnish and cause problems.

A final note: Some people just have very strong perspiration that chemically attacks even low (10) karat gold alloys and slowly dissolves a ring from the inside out.

William B deleted
- Fernie, B.C., Canada


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Q. Does the same solution for silver soaking in the ammonia solution work for gold. Gold is turning my fingers black.
Thanks for any help

Diane P deleted
- Santa Fe, New Mexico


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A. Hi Diane,
Yes the solution of 50/50 ammonia and water will also work for gold. When I worked with jewelry manufacturers they would advise me on quick cleaning solutions. They liked straight heated ammonia (just below the boiling point), hanging the ring below the solution level on stainless steel wire for about ten minutes. You would need to cover the pot and have adequate exhaust. Let the solution cool before removing the lid and ring to save havoc on your nasal passages. This cleaning method is for 10k - 18k gold, with or without precious stones. I would stay away from cleaning PLATED JEWELRY this way. Good luck!

Mark Baker
process engineer - Malone, New York


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Q. I had bought two 18 K White Gold Rings and they are turning my fingers green. What do I do? I love these rings and are very important to me; please get back to me if you can help! Thank You I'm in 11th grade

Amber Z deleted
Home School - Sheboygan, Wisconsin


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Q. How do you get the green to come off your fingers from the rings that turn them gold. The green won't come off and I have tried numerous things on my skin to do it. What do you suggest?

Sabrina K deleted
student - West Jordan, Utah


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Q. My wife's fingers are green won't come off and she have tried numerous things on her skin to do it. What do you suggest?

Gordon L deleted
- Sale, Massachusetts


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A. I used to have the same problems with my rings, I learned a trick, after soaking them in half ammonia half water, let them dry and then cover the outsides and insides of the ring with a coat of clear nail polish, let them dry and them wear them, they should no longer turn your fingers green, as for getting the green off, mix a teaspoon of baking sodaamazoninfo with a little water to make a paste, coat the area that's green and let it stay for about 10 minutes. the green should be gone, and depending on how green it is, you may do it again.

Kezia R deleted
- Sandwich, Illinois



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Q. I have a wonder trillion diamond set in an 18K setting. This work was done by a reputable jeweler in Nov. of 1995. In the summer of 2004, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and started on the proper medication. By November 2004 I noticed that I was unable to wear my wedding rings for long periods of time because they "burned my fingers and caused blisters". I removed the rings, had them cleaned and tried again but the same thing happened. I then tried a sterling silver ring and the same thing happened. Prior to this time I have never had any problems wearing real or not real jewelry. Research I had done indicates that I have a nickel allergy, maybe. I need help because I love my rings but have given up wearing any rings at all. Incidentally, my earrings do not give me any problems, only my ring fingers. What up with this?

Deborah B deleted
Teacher - Raleigh, North Carolina


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A. After I began taking Vitamin B complex, my fingers stopped turning color from jewelry. I learned this from an old jeweler in Rochester, MN when I lived there.

Sonja Salcido
- Benson, Arizona


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We appreciate you letting us know what worked for you. Sonja. But I'd feel better for you if you had learned this from an old doctor than an old jeweler :-)

I don't think people should determine appropriate vitamin regimens based on trying to make their bodies conform to the ideosyncrasies of their jewelry :-)

Good luck!

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 24, 2009

Ted:
My doctor (s) and many nurses did confirm that several years later.
Feel better? :)

Sonja Salcido
- Tucson, Arizona


March 24, 2009

Yes, Sonja, I do. Thanks so much for the update.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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Q. I have some necklaces and bracelets that say 14k on them but I don't think they are real, they have a grey color to them and they break me out. I am allergic to most metals how can I tell if they are real or not. I want to sell them but I am afraid to because they may not be real

Debra Womack
Shawsville - Virginia


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A. They are probably real white gold, made with nickel, and that's what you are allergic to. White gold can be a bit "gray"; it's the rhodium plating on most white gold today, not the white gold itself, that is that brilliant color.

Please see our Rhodium Plating and White Gold FAQ.

If they are labeled 14k, I'd feel confident that that's what they are. Good luck.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Q. I have 4 gold rings, and everyone of them turn my fingers a dark green color. I have recently heard that this can be caused from anemia. Is this true? I do have other signs of anemia, as I have looked this topic up. But does anyone else have this same thing? At times it is really embarrassing, and most people say that my rings aren't 'real' gold, because sometimes they get marked wrong. But what is the chance that 4 rings that belong to the same person would be marked wrong...? I really want to get this figured out.. so if anyone can help, that would be great! :D

Gracie Ella
Student - Salt Lake City, Utah


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Q. My finger recently turned green too. Is my green finger a health concern in any way? Thanks for your time.

William Turner
- Sparta, Michigan


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Q. Hi, for the past 25 yrs. my rings have been turning my fingers green. Not all the time. I think it's especially around menstrual times when it happens. It washes off but comes right back. It happens with gold or silver, yet bracelets and necklaces don't have the same effect. It does not itch or bother me other than the fact that it looks horrible.
I think maybe I'm lacking something in my diet or overdoing something in my diet. Does anyone have any ideas? I don't think it's the nickel or whatever it's made of because the rest of my body where I wear jewelry is just fine.
Thanks,

Kell Jul
homeowner - Chester, New Jersey


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Your fingers sweat, Kell, and rings usually fit snugly -- much more so than other jewelry. This salty water reacts with the copper or nickel in the rings and creates the green salts. The degree of saltiness may vary due to exercise, anxiety, or hormones.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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Q. I have a ring that is rhodium something or another. It is supposed to be plated to look like platinum. My finger is black and I have no idea how to get my finger to look right. I have been removing the rings when I wash my hands. Please tell me now to get my finger back right?
Thanks

Teresa R deleted
- Memphis, Tennessee


January 4, 2008

I am 37 years old. I have a beautiful gold ring set with a pearl that I have been wearing for 16 years. two months ago the ring started turning my finger black.it has also happened with rings I don't wear as often, but which are as high end value. this has never happened previously. copper, of course, has turned my skin green, but never in 37 years has my skin been discolored by 10, 14, 18 or 24 k gold. I started taking a birth control pill for the first time in my life three months ago (for hormonal reasons, not for controlling pregnancy). this is the ONLY change in diet/lifestyle etc I've made. the ring does not fit extremely snugly, nor have my hands been sweaty prior to this occurring. in fact, right now, they are rather dry due to the weather.

I am prone to believing that some chemical/hormonal reaction is happening. Some more information would be useful - and perhaps with less bias against the idea that physiological makeup has something to do with the occurrences.

Juliet Fdeleted
- Seattle, Washington


January 7, 2008

I didn't see any "bias against the idea that physiological makeup has something to do with the occurrences", Juliet; to the contrary there are numerous references to hormonal balance, etc., on this page. You do, however, see bias against the idea that people should base their diet and vitamin supplements on advise from their jeweler :-)

Plus it's possible for a healthy person to get green fingers from troublesome jewelry, and an unhealthy person to never get green fingers if their is no copper in the jewelry; so the jewelry can have an effect on the issue. But excessively salty sweat (and green fingers) might possibly be a sign of cystic fibrosis, for example. So I'd feel better if people discussed these issues with their doctor, not just their jeweler :-)

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 9, 2008

Q. I'm looking to buy a ring, but I've had issues with 10 kt gold turning my fingers green. Most rings that I'm looking at are 14 kt and I'm wondering if they are generally expected to turn fingers green. How high should I buy to best avoid green fingers?

K Smith
- Halifax, NS, Canada

Titanium, Tungsten and Gold Wedding Band Rings


March 4, 2008

Q. I have never had black fingers when wearing my wedding and engagement ring set over the past 22 years. However, over the past 3 months or so, my left ring finger has turned black most days when I wear my rings.

My main changes in diet have been (1) new medication, taking 3 or 4 days per week (Diovan HCT), and (2) switched from "regular" salt to Morton Sea Salt. I know the Sea Salt, Courseamazoninfo has more of the trace minerals, so perhaps one of these minerals is being excreted with light sweat (it is cold here) and reacting with the alloy metals in the gold.

Jenny Ellis
- Lafayette, Louisiana


March 9, 2008

Q. I have had the same wedding set on my finger for 32 years and recently I looked down and my finger was black under ring. The next day I became really ill for several days with flu like symptoms. What can be causing these things? It is really embarrasing to me -- any suggestions?

Sherrie Todd
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


March 21, 2008

A. I was once told by a physician that this was because I had a deficiency of iron. I do think that there are some truth to that, as I have a history of anemia and this only happens to me when I am showing other signs of being anemic. My ring doesn't turn my finger black 100 percent of the time. I realize that this is controversial but perhaps will give you a place to start researching. I would definitely ask my doctor and get his opinion.
I hope your condition gets better.

Caryn J
- Southwest Virginia


August 26, 2008

A. I think the iron thing may be right also. My ring turns my finger green so I take extra iron then it doesn't do it for a while. If it starts turning green again. I take some more.

Linda Snider
- Nashville, Tennessee


January 4, 2009

Q. I've worn my 14k wedding band for 12 years, no problems. I am currently in Iraq, and my ring is turning my ring, pinky and middle finger black. I've read through the prior postings, and wonder if it could be the climate? I won't be able to test this theory out until I get back to the States, but no other soldiers here are having this problem.

If this 14k ring has worn down after 12 years, do I need to take it in and have it 'refinished' or something. Maybe have it coated with something?

David B. Willis
U.S. Army - Whitewright, Texas


March 22, 2014appended

Q. Some of my 14k gold rings turn my fingers green even though they are real. What does this mean?

Paulette Jackson
- Columbia, Missouri

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