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My $16,000 engagement ring is turning my finger green
Q. I have a 14k gold diamond engagement ring, I have tried clear nail polish but it only lasts a couple of days. At first the green was only a little, now its all the time. I had this problem in the past with a gold pendant and the clear nail polish worked. Probably because it did not rub as much as the ring does and did not get wet as often as hands do. I wanted to know if anyone has tried to switch to white gold and if they still have the problem.. Silver does not seem to turn green on me. Thanks in advance for any suggestions other than clear nail polish...Stacey Pilla
administrative assistant - Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
A. It sounds like you got a 14K gold where the alloy material was mostly copper.
The ring was not cheap, so the store that you bought it from made a bundle on it. Talk to them about having it reset in a gold with far less copper in it.
If you search this site, you will find that a lot of unhappy people were sold yellow gold that was rhodium plated. If you go the white gold route, tell them that you want a certified assay of the white gold and it has to be one that is cut with platinum. It will cost more, but it is great. You might get by with one that is cut with cobalt which is much harder, so should wear better.
If you do not mind white gold color, you could have it plated with rhodium for a few dollars. It will last from a couple of months to a year before needing replating.
You might want to take it to a jeweler that makes his own settings, where I think you might get a better and thicker plating job.
- Navarre, Florida
Q. When I'm stressed and only when I'm stressed, all my gold rings turn my fingers green. My rings are from all over the world Dubai, Kosovo, Canada, some of them are very expensive and some are not, but they all turn my fingers green when I'm under stress. Does anyone know why this is happening?Christina Wallis
Retail - Canada
! My white gold ring does the same! I have heard it means you are not eating enough iron, but I don't know.Cindy Parker
- Boise, Idaho, USA
A. Pure gold, known as 24 Karat gold, is very soft and has poor wear resistance, so to harden it jewelers add different amounts of other metals such as copper, nickel, silver etc. The more "other metal" they add, the harder it becomes, but it also becomes less pure and cheaper. It will also change the colour of the gold. Pure gold is a "golden" colour and this cannot be changed - it is a simple fact of nature. Gold that is not "gold coloured" is not pure gold - fact. Anyway, the presence of other metals will affect how the jeweler's metal reacts on the skin. Luckily most people do not react adversely to most metals, but some do. The most common problem is with nickel and this can cause "nickel itch", which is a type of dermatitis. In an extreme case this can become a severe allergy and has been widely discussed on this site. Anyway, the way this happens is by the secretions from the skin attacking the metal or metal alloy.
The most common secretion is sweat (aka "perspiration" or "glowing") and this contains a myriad of chemical such as salt (sodium chloride) and acids such as lactic acid - it is these, and other, chemicals that make sweat smell the way it does. Unfortunately when the sweat attacks the metal, it dissolves it to give new soluble chemicals, many of which are coloured. in the case of copper, the colour is usually green or blue, whilst nickel will give green colours. This is why your skin turns a different colour - it is due to the dissolved metal salts being absorbed onto the skin. Unfortunately, sweating is increased when people are under stress; this can be caused by numerous factors such as anxiety or physical exercise. Consequently, stress causes sweat, causes colours....
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
A. Pure gold is 24 carat. 14 carat gold contains only 14/24 gold.That is - not much more than half.
I do not believe that Canada and certainly not USA have a hallmarking system. You only have the jeweler's word that it contains even that much.
The weight of an average ring is less than 10 grammes so the gold content is about 5 g with a current value of about £25 or $60 Canadian.
To be worth $16000 that must be some diamond!
If you want to spend that sort of money on a ring, consider spending some of it on a cheap flight to UK. We have had a hallmarking system since 1327. Every piece of jewelry offered for sale must be assayed and marked with the makers name, assay office, date and purity.
Until 1773 the penalty for selling gold at less than the marked purity was death. Sadly, it is now only 10 years- standards are falling! We would also expect a quality ring to be 18 carat.
Geoff, I'm not sure where you get your conversion rates, but I will willingly trade US dollars to Canadian dollars using your rates! The current dollar exchange rate against sterling is 1.92 and 2.27 (US and Canadian) to the pound. Or is gold much cheaper in the US than in Canada!
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
I think Trevor did a great job in describing gold alloys and the effects on the skin. I think his response should be well regarded and respected by readers on this site. If I had posted the inquiry, I would have been grateful that someone had taken that much time to help!Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Syracuse, New York
... Just wanted to follow up, I appreciate everyone's responses I have printed all your responses and I am taking it to the jeweller who made my $16,000.00 GREEN FINGER TURNING RING so frustrating as I can wear silver and stainless steel and my finger does not change in colour. I have recently used Witch Craft clear nail polish that seems to give the longest wear before the colour reappears on my finger lasts about two weeks.
For Valentine's Day I received a Silver Bracelet instead of gold as my boyfriend is playing it safe. I will let you all know how it turns out at the jeweller in the next little while. Thanks again.
- Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Q. I think that there is another problem. I just found this site because I am looking for answers for a friend. She has a white gold engagement ring that she has been wearing for 30 years without a problem and, on the other hand,a yellow gold set that she has also worn on a daily basis for decades. Just in the past month or so both have begun to turn her fingers green--which never happened before.
There is no question both are quality rings.
I have never heard of this happening to anyone else before.
- Loveland, Colorado, USA
Q. Hi there. We purchased a 600.00 diamond chip ring from a outlet store. It is not marked 10,12,14,18, or 24 kt on the inside of the ring. It is turning my ring finger, and the pinky next to it green. I have not had this problem in the past. Isn't it law that solid gold rings, have to be marked? I have worn 10k gold rings before, and this has never happened, this is why I worry! Please help me with advice on this! Thank you in advance!Carrie Wray
- Springfield, Oregon, United States
September 6, 2010
A. YES! Gold has to be hallmarked by LAW in the USA. 10k, 14k etc. If your ring is not marked, it is likely gold plate which can be sold and marked as a "gold ring". ALWAYS look for the hallmark!Grace Face
- Providence, Rhode Island, USA
January 17, 2011
A. I have no idea how true this is... but a friend of mine used to have the same problem with her fingers turning green from her gold rings, she found out that it had to do with her being anemic.Teresa Berry
- Haskell, Oklahoma USA
July 13, 2014
A. It could be fake. Real gold and silver should not do this to your skin. A mineral deficiency, such as iron, could not be the cause of this. Having a mineral deficiency such as iron will cause a craving for ice.Dr. Kayla Hernandez
- Houston Texas USA
April 24, 2015
! I had trouble being anemic my whole life and when it's really bad, gold does turn my skin color. It looks more black to me then green. And I know that my jewelry is a great quality because I have family in the business. Only buy the best, quality over quantity.Lindsay kay
- St. Cloud, Minnesota usa
Plated ring bought at 14 kt price. Was I Duped?January 21, 2016
Q. I purchased a vintage ring from a consignment shop and paid for the ring as though it was 14K YG and precious stones. I had to have the ring sized and upon the ring being returned to me it came back the color of a new penny. I have photos of before the sizing and after and the metal is clearly a different color. I took the ring back to the consignment store to show and the response was "maybe it was plated". I have 2 thoughts, how does a plated ring get sold for 14K price? And when the ring was sized why didn't the jeweler inform me it was plated? At the very least, allow me to make the decision to invest in a piece that might not have that kind of value? There are no markings at all that I can find in this ring. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, appreciated in advance.Michelle Alyce
Buyer - Folsom, California
A. Hi Michelle. There may be exceptions, but in general if there isn't a karat mark, it probably isn't gold. If, despite lack of markings, something is represented as karat gold, you should probably get something in writing before buying it. I doubt you'll find a small claims court arbitrator who will take your side, but who knows, especially if the consignment shop operator doesn't challenge your recollection of events.
I don't want to be unsympathetic, because I understand the double whammy you've suffered, but I'm not sure what debt the jeweler ought to feel to you. He may not have known it was plated without spending time and money conducting tests that you didn't ask for or pay for. I'd probably ask the jeweler to gold plate it at his cost if you still want it despite it not being gold. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 29, 2016
Q. My boyfriend recently bought me a beautiful ring. He left the tag still on it and it said 14k diamond ring/1ct/6gm/ctw and the price was on it. It wasn't a cheap ring at all. He told me the person at the store said the band is white gold. I've been wearing it now for 4 days and I just noticed that my finger is slightly green. What could be the cause?Alieshiea clifford
- Sacramento California usa
A. Hi Alieshiea. It is 14K gold so it's hard to say why your finger would get green beyond what is already said on this page. The other markings have to do with the diamonds (1 ct main stone, 6 gm total diamond weights).
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
May 1, 2016
A. Is anything happening to the ring? If not, may be your boyfriend brought an undersized ring !H.R. Prabhakara
Bangalore Plasmatek - Bangalore, Karnataka, India
May 2, 2016
A. Hello Alieshiea, as you may know white gold is alloyed with other metals to give the ring a white color. Common alloys are copper, zinc, nickel, silver, palladium, or manganese. There is a very good chance that you have a nickel allergy, even though the nickel alloy is minimal. I would go back to the jeweler and ask what alloying metals are used in the ring. You also want to ask if the ring was plated with rhodium. Most engagement rings are, but not all.They will have to contact the maker of the ring to answer your questions. If the ring was plated in rhodium there isn't much you can do. If it wasn't the jeweler may send it out for rhodium plating if they want your future business and you complain enough. Good luck to you.Mark Baler
Process Engineering - Phoenix, Arizona USA
June 24, 2016
Q. I have had this problem for many many years. There is something being secreted in my sweat, that when I mop my forehead with a cold, wet, white towel, the towel turns a shade of green. I have eaten thru the backs, and the bottom of the stems of gold watches, it wears thru the bottoms of gold, and silver rings turning my fingers a greenish black. I have found that the only thing I can wear is stainless steel, titanium, or tungsten. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you.David White
- Lomira, Wisconsin USA
August 8, 2016
Q. Hi I just purchased a 9 kt solid yellow gold belcher chain necklace. I've worn it for 2 hours and already my neck is green.
Do you think perhaps if I went up to a 18 kt it wouldn't tarnish my skin? As I've been wearing 9 kt yellow and white gold singapore chains with no problems. I do want a yellow gold belcher not a white gold.
- Toowoomba, QLD Australia
A. Hi Jack. Is it practical to have it gold plated or clear-coated or both in sequence? Plating with 24 kt gold should be relatively inexpensive and completely stop the greening for as long as the plating lasts.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey