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Why black line on face from gold jewelry?

Q. If I rub gold down my face why does it leave a black mark?

Olivia dennis
Burlington, North Carolina
July 18, 2021

A. Hi Olivia. I don't know of any peer-reviewed article in a medical journal, although there may well be one... bu that's what this thread and its 30+ postings has been about for 15 years. Short of a long search through journals, all I can suggest is to browse this thread and believe what sounds most believable to you :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

! I have extremely low iron and it does not leave any marks on me.

Crys Taylor
Oshawa ontario
October 1, 2022


Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. Why do precious metals such as gold, when rubbed across a face with makeup powder, leave a black line?

Nancy Hedger
- Georgia

Iron Test

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A. Wow ... okay, so I was talking to my girlfriend about 10 minutes ago and she was saying that she thought that she had a low iron level. She went on to say that she knew of a simple test to determine if she had low iron or not. I asked her what it was ... she said that she needed a gold ring -- if she took a gold ring and rubbed it across her forehead it would leave a black mark if she had low iron. I actually began laughing at her saying that her theory was stupid. She got the ring and did it, and it magically left this black streak across her forehead. I really was totally stunned, but since I am a hard-headed jerk I still could not take her word for it that "somehow" the gold would react with her skin if she had low iron.

Lol, like an idiot I began experimenting on my girlfriend trying to figure out why this was happening on her and not on me. I even took the time to look it up on line, and that is how I came across this thread. I then washed her face with an alcohol/acetone [on eBay or Amazon] mixture and cleaned it. I tried to rub the ring across her face again and no mark!

I then had her put some makeup on her face again after I cleaned it and tried running the ring across her face with the makeup and PRESTO black line... not really sure why the gold is reacting with the makeup but it definitely does NOT work with other metals like tin or aluminum. Hope this helps out a little. I also had never heard of this ever until I saw it with my own eyes.

William Miner
- Woburn, Massachusetts

A. My boyfriend told me the same thing -- that I could tell if I had low iron this way, and I did it on my forehead and it worked, and yes I had make up on. But, when I wear my 14K and 10k gold rings they leave green-black marks on my fingers and I could make a black-green mark also on my hand which did not have any makeup traces on it.

Jackie Bergeron
- North Attleboro, Massachusetts


All pure 24K gold is always yellow; there is no such thing as an isotope of gold that is white, pink, green, or rose color.
When you hear of a different color gold, it's actually an alloy/mix of other metals added in to give that coloration, and these alloys are more prone to tarnish, corrosion, and discoloration -- as you may have heard, nothing will corrode, tarnish, or dissolve pure 24K gold except the very powerful acid called aqua regia.

thumbs up sign  Thanks Jackie. As someone from the finishing industry, I don't personally understand this black marking from gold jewelry, nor whether or not it is related to iron levels or to makeup; your fellow jewelry wearers will have more to say about that than I can.

A. But green is the color of copper and nickel corrosion products: if the jewelry is gold plated, the plating is not thick enough and non-porous enough, and sweat or other liquids is reaching the underlying nickel plating or copper/brass substrate and generating green corrosion which is rubbing off on your skin. Solid gold jewelry is rarely 24 karat pure gold, but more usually 14K (14/24's gold), 12K (12/24's gold), 10K (10/24's gold) or 9K (9/24's gold); the remainder may be copper or nickel and cause this greening. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I am online looking for information about this. I cannot wear any gold anymore. My ear lobes now get a nasty grey ashy cover, my fingers look like I am wearing a fake 5 dollar ring. At first I thought it was low grade gold, but the last earrings I purchased were top of the line. They turned my lobes also. Silver does not do this to me. I do not have this problem all the time. This is why I think the people believe it goes back to low iron.

When the gold has this effect on my body, I have a strong metallic taste in my mouth, brain fog, extreme tiredness, sleeplessness and fatigue. I really have to find out what this is a reaction to. I used to think it was from not drinking enough water, but that is not it.

Note: the cleaner you washed your girlfriends face with shields the gold reaction, I can wear no make up and still have this happen, but not right after a washing. I do not wear makeup on my lobes, and can wash my hands 10 times a day, never reapply makeup and the marks come back to my fingers. I can also create these marks on my forearms and stomach. If anyone does figure this out, please let me know.

Donna Marlow
- Califrona, Kentucky

A. Dear Donna Marlow
It sounds like you do have low iron.

Taylor Ingle
- Jonesboro, Arkansas

Q. Hi just wanted to find out why my ring fingers are turning black after years of wearing my rings. We bought them from Rogers. I was told that it could be that my body was giving off too much acid. Is this true? What can I do to keep this from happening.

Dion Harmon
consumer - Norwood, Ohio

A. This is 100% true. I suffer from Iron deficiencies a lot, and weave back and forth between low iron and full-on anemia. I tend to get used to the feelings of fatigue that come from it, until it gets so bad it starts affecting my life (like falling asleep in the middle of the day or getting light headed, etc.). But the gold ring test never fails. The dark line always coincides with the times I'm exhibiting symptoms of the very low iron/anemia. The worse my symptoms the darker the line. My fiancee starts to notice my symptoms before I do, and says "baby, check your ring face" -- and sure enough black line is there. It's never failed. When I'm feeling fully energized and my iron is normal, no black mark to be found. I always use my engagement ring which is 14k gold, so I know it's not a junk ring. It won't work with any low quality gold plated rings or silver rings, only solid gold.

It leaves the mark on my face, my neck, my shoulders. Not so much on my hands, thank goodness. The line can be easily wiped off again. I don't have to be wearing makeup either, though it won't work on a freshly washed face. It must have something to do with the oils from your pores, which are gone when you just washed your face.

Tietania Lee
- Abington, Pennsylvania
October 11, 2009

Mastering the Health Continuum

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A. Yes this happens to me also, in fact I have heard about it from multiple sources in the past. The first who introduced it to me was my home economics teacher who used her ring to make an x on my cheek. I never really believed it, and in fact found this thread because I was looking for answers as to whether this is true or not.

I have a 10k ring and it makes black marks on my cheek and forehead, but nowhere else. I have never tried it without make up on, so maybe it could be a reaction to my mineral make-up. I have also heard that this works best on women (in general), specifically young women and menopausal women due to the changes in their bodies; iron deficiency also shows these trends so it does connect on that note.

I have never been tested in a clinic for iron deficiency so I'm thinking I should, however I am still fishing for answers on this.

Danielle DeBarberac
- Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
January 11, 2010

A. I am speaking from personal experience that this has nothing to do with makeup. I too have the same problem with gold turning my skin green. It is any kind of pure gold and any part of my body I can rub the gold on and it will leave a green mark, however not all the time, only when my Iron is low. So, yes, there is a correlation to iron being low and gold turning skin green.

Danielle Freeman
- Berwick, Pennsylvania
June 16, 2010

Q. I too have this problem, have a 9 kt solid gold fob and every time I wear it I have this dreadful green imprint around my neck, worse when I am wearing mineral makeup, although my gold rings don't seem to leave this mark. I do seem to get a green reaction to silver as well. Should I get my iron levels checked?

Heather Lee
- Sydney, Australia
November 2, 2010

Q. I have the ability to test by rubbing on my arm any gold or silver item. Oftentimes someone is not aware if what they have is real. Well by rubbing that item on my arm if it makes a dark black line it's real. If the item is fake it will not make a black line. Is this rare or do I have an iron deficiency of some sort? I think it's kinda cool and often help others determine if what they have is real. Now if it's plated or filled the line will not be as dark. What's your thoughts?

Cynthia Sexton
- Petaluma, California, United States
October 27, 2011

A. You guys are subject to a deficiency called Anemia.

Zane Hanson
- Modesto, California, United States

A. I know for a fact that I am iron deficient anaemic. I was diagnosed a month or so ago, and literally tonight I was out with my friend and my kids and she told me about this test. I was skeptical of course. I said "get out of here?!"
Then I said I wonder if it would work with white gold (because my wedding ring is white gold) and sure enough it worked!, big ole' black streak.

Fascinated by this, I started checking my kids, lol. One of my daughters whom I suspected and actually said to her before we went out tonight that I wanted to get her tested for iron deficiency, I rubbed along her face and a big ole' black mark again! I went to my youngest daughter and tried it on her and nothing at all. Then I tried my middle daughter and her black mark was even darker than the daughter I suspected had iron issues.

Now I am not going to go and start forcing iron supplements down their throats, but between what I've read on online when I got home, and what I saw tonight, I would like to officially get their iron levels tested via serology -- just to make sure.

I haven't tested my son or husband with the ring because he didn't come out with us tonight. He wasn't into going to the ballet :S lol ... and when we got home they were asleep. But I am going to test them tomorrow.

If this is an accurate depiction of low iron, one would ask why not just do this in the Doctor's office (the ring test) - but they don't and they wouldn't for several reasons. If this is an accurate way, they would lose lots of money spending money for a battery blood work, but eventually they would have to send you for blood work in the end regardless to find out what your actual iron level is and if you are actually anaemic as well, and how aggressive to treat it.

I find this fascinating.


Robin Moniz
- Brampton, Ontario, Canada

A. I've searched for an answer for a while, and I am chagrined to say that I don't have a conclusive answer for you. However, I do think that there are some possible explanations for the phenomenon you are experiencing. I looked through quite a bit of scientific literature, but I wasn't able to find much anything of use. So, hat in hand, I turned to jewelers. You will be happy to know that you are not the only one who has had this problem with gold jewelry. In fact, you only have the problem with your gold ring; other people have had this problem with all gold jewelry.

First off, the Jeweler's Associations of Australia and New Zealand have identified five reasons why gold jewelry may leave a black mark on skin.

1. Sometimes skin secretions and perspiration contain chemicals that react with the other metals in the gold alloy, leaving a residue. (The Jewelers Association suggests that this can happen when changes occur in body chemistry, for example during pregnancy.)
2. Outside chemical influences, such as cosmetics, hairspray and perfumes may sometimes be to blame for the smudge.
3. Air pollutants from industry may cause the smudge, which can rub off onto the skin when jewelry is worn.
4. Minute particles of dust or powder may be embedded in the skin which can result in extremely small particles of gold alloy being rubbed off and left on the skin.
5. The fifth and least likely cause may be allergy to gold or one of the other metals in the alloy, such as an allergy to nickel which is commonly used in fashion jewelry and in some white golds.

I also asked my local jeweler your question, and she suggested three (similar) reasons for the black mark.

1. Copper and silver in low karat gold alloys can tarnish, leaving a dark green-black mark.
2. Particulate matter can accumulate underneath a ring, where metal is tight against the skin, leaving a dark smudge.
3. Some people are allergic to the alloy metals in the ring, and can have an allergic reaction to the metal, resulting in a dark rash.

So, to get a better handle on your problem, you might check the karat value of the gold in your ring and compare that to the rest of your jewelry. The karat (KT) value describes the purity of the metal. 24 KT gold is 100% pure gold, while 18KT is 75% gold and 25% alloy metals, and 12KT is 50% gold and 50% alloy metals. I don't think that jewelry can go below a karat value of 10KT (41.6% gold) and still be called gold in the US. My jeweler suggested that black marks resulting from tarnishing and rashes would only result from contact with low karat (e.g., 10, 12, and 14 karat) metals.

I hope that this helps answer your question.

Jaime Marie
- Athens, Georgia, USA
March 15, 2012

A. I would like to think it was the quality of the ring. However, I have been caught with low iron on several different occasions in my life. Once I learned about rubbing a gold ring on your skin to test, it has always been in line with how I am feeling. If I am feeling okay, no black line or a very light line is there. If I'm feeling really run down, the line is VERY black. Now, for comparisons, I have taken the same ring, whipped it off and rubbed it on multiple people, who do not have a black line afterward. Or, every now and then someone will have a faint line. I can rub the ring on my hand, my face, my neck, it doesn't matter, it will leave a black mark. I can also take someone else's ring and do the same.
So, from my experience, it isn't the ring quality, or a particular ring. It isn't a make up reaction. It always leaves marks when I have signs of anemia.
I wish there was a better way to monitor this at home. Because if I schedule out blood work with the doctor I may not be having symptoms that day. Wish I could test myself or just walk in for blood work. But it doesn't work that way here. It's frustrating because I would like help from being so tired all the time. :(

Melodie Pullen
- Columbus, Ohio, USA

A. This always happens when I put cream on, I get a black line. I bought my silver from Hatton Gardens for making jewellery, as I've made a few rings and things. The cream definitely makes it wear away.

I noticed when putting on cream on my legs -- any body cream or face cream -- my silver rings made leave black lines. It's like it's wearing away the silver :( and I got these things called nano dots and was so disappointed when I noticed my hands were black from making stuff with them because they are 25X more expensive than other brands, anyway they're silver plated, just a bit gutted there's no warning about losing the color from using cream?

Ell Nicole
- London, England
August 31, 2012

Q. I have an appointment next week to get my levels tested for low iron. I have been researching on this topic and I just tried this test. I had no make up on when doing it the first time there was no black line, then I thought just to see I put some mineral powder on and try again. And there it was a think black line. Not sure why this is and if it's just the make up. I guess I will find out when I see the doctor to confirm.

Mel Duncan
- Alberta Canada
October 14, 2012

A. I actually have Hemochromatosis, which is TOO much iron and have phlebotomies to remove the excess iron in my blood and I have black marks under my rings and I've rubbed the rings on my face and have black marks there as well. The marks must relate to acidity or something different like Zinc or another mineral that we have in our bodies that react with the gold.

Suzanne Ouellet
- Cochrane, Ont Canada

Iron Test

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Q. I was told a while back by my best friend that if you run a gold or silver ring down your check, across your forehead, etc., a black mark will appear, and you supposedly have low iron deficiency. Of course, me being like "OMG I have to try this," I borrowed my stepmom's silver wedding ring and drew on my best friend's forehead. I had known beforehand that she was anemic, and when I ran the ring across her forehead a black line showed up. I did it to my other best friend and she had a line appear also, but when I ran the ring across my stepmom's cheek nothing showed up. I looked up symptoms of anemia and they consisted of: fatigue, dizziness, headaches, shortage of breath, cranky/grumpiness and so on. So far I have had every one of these symptoms except the headaches after I work out. The symptoms have been with me for the past several weeks. I did the ring test multiple times tonight and every single time I ran that same ring across my cheeks I had black lines show up. They also showed up on my stomach, neck, and my arms. I was wondering if the ring test was proven to be at least 90-95% true?

Allyson Jordan
- Lexington, South Carolina, USA
March 22, 2013

A. Hi,

I'm writing to you all in reference to gold rings leaving black smudge marks on our skin while we wear our beautiful jewelry. Well, I went to the doctor to find out and the first thing the Doctor says is you're probably anemic. So, I had my blood check for being anemic, vitamin D and vitamin B. Two out of the three tests came back normal. The test results came back as severely vitamin D deficiency @ 6.2. I was immediately
put on a prescription for 50,000 units one (1) pill a week for four weeks. And, I just went to have more blood work done and I should know something by 4/11/2013.

But the interesting part to my story is that after the second week of taking the vitamin D, the black marks went away; and now after taking all 4 pills in 4 weeks there are no black smudges rings or marks of any kind. So, I just wanted to share my story with you girls maybe it something you could have checked out. I never had this Vitamin D problem before in my life until I started working 3rd shift at my job. So, ladies no sunshine no vitamin D. Is my problem. I hope this helps.

Deb Lewis
- Louisville, Kentucky United States

A. My wedding ring will leave a black line on my face. I've have never been anemic. The same ring on my husband's face does not leave a black mark and he is extremely anemic with a ferritin level of only 4.5.

Carol White
- Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
July 31, 2014

A. I am iron deficient and take an iron pill most days. If I miss them for about 4 days I get big dark black line under my gold wedding ring or engagement ring. I have never worn gold but thought it was cool that it absolutely is reactive to my actual iron levels. I would have guessed that it was an old wives' tail but without fail I get the line after a few days of missing my iron.

Susie Greenberg
The Loka Life - Chicago, Illinois
December 10, 2015

A. I have a beautiful gold ring on my right hand. My blood test came back to say I was low in iron. I've been taken iron tablets for a week only and you guessed it my finger was black on the plain side, right along the finger.

Kim Crosbie
- Torquay Victoria australia
April 7, 2016

Q. I recently purchased 4 x 9 Kt Gold rings from an Aussie jewelers and have the black mark on each of those fingers, but I also wear three 9K Gold rings I bought in England.
The Aussie gold rings all leave black marks on my fingers, but the English gold rings do not leave a black mark. So I am wondering if the Aussie gold rings are made up of a different quantity of gold (poorer quality maybe?)and the other metal mixes are what's making my fingers turn black. I do not have low iron as I had it tested recently.
Has anyone else found this to be true of jewellery from other countries?

Mel Price
- McCracken, South Australia
July 2, 2017

"anemia In Women"
by Joan Gomez

on AbeBooks

or Amazon

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A. This is 100% true. I have iron anemia and pernicious anemia. When my iron is low and I need to get my iron infusions I will notice darkening around my fingers where my 14k rings are. I also noticed that after my levels go up after the infusions this stops happening.

Melanie Skipper
February 26, 2018

A. I didn't believe the theory either until I saw it with my own two eyes. I did it on myself with a golden ring and it left a black line on my cheek, I had makeup on at the time I did it. I also thought it was just an reaction with my makeup.

I then removed my makeup, and washed my face, and tried doing it again, and when I did it for the second time it still left a black line on my face. But, I haven't gotten tested for low iron -- therefore the truth about the gold ring leaving a black line on my face because I have low iron is unknown. I am going to go to the hospital to get tested just in case.

Hannah Burry
- Gander, NL, CANADA

thumbs up sign Thanks Hannah. Please let us know what you find :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Mastering the Health Continuum

(affil links)

Q. I am currently trying to find a link between iron deficiency and the smudge gold jewelry leaves on the skin, but am struggling to find a completely valid solution. My Science teacher has told my class to come up with a theory, and she suggested it possibly having to do with the shade of your skin or possibly hair color. I'm actively trying to figure out what's happening and I will try to get back to you if I come up with a possible theory. It does not work on me or any of my family members, but has worked on several students in my class. I will get back to you with my thoughts at a later date.

Sydney Lutz
- Kansas City, Missouri, United States
November 15, 2018

A. I wanted to add to this thread as I value and catalogue antique jewellery for a living and have done for thirty years.
I never use acid to test the purity of the gold, I honestly just rub it on my hand, after this many years, I can identify the carat of the gold by the depth of colour of the mark left on my skin !
I never really gave it much thought till someone asked me how long it takes to carefully test antique jewellery without damaging and how come there were never any test stains left on items I had catalogued for sale.
For me, I guess it's a kind of a bonus....I never gave it much though till I read this...!

Barbara Dixon
Antique jewellery specialist - London, London, United Kingdom
January 4, 2020

A. I am anemic. Whenever I went to the doctor's office, my doctor could look at me and tell me my iron was really low. They would do the test and sure enough he would be right. One day I decided to ask him how was he able to tell without any blood work. He said the gold jewelry I wear turns me black when it is low.

D. Loggins
- Fayetteville Georgia
March 11, 2020


Q. I get a black ring around my index finger a lot. It is right at the first knuckle from my fingernail. Why does this keep happening?

Amy Van Fleet
- Columbia, Missouri
January 21, 2021

A. Hi Amy. Do you write with pens & pencils a lot, and are you right-handed? (I don't know if it's just the lighting, but you seem to have a larger & darker mark on the inside of your pinkie).

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
January 2021

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