Can Real Gold Turn Your Skin Green? (Detailed Answer 2024)

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Have you ever had a green finger from wearing your real gold ring?

Many people believe that discoloration only occurs from wearing cheap rings.

This article aims to give information on whether real gold can turn your finger green.

One of the most common misconceptions in the jewel industry is that only low-quality rings can turn your finger green.

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Often, rings made from copper turn your finger green due to the oxidation of the copper metal or a copper alloy to form copper oxide.

The discoloration is not harmful to your health but serves as a nuisance since no one likes to walk around with a discolored finger. So, does real gold turn your skin green?


Can real gold turn your skin green?

Pure gold cannot turn your skin green as gold itself is a hypoallergenic metal. It is biocompatible and inert, ensuring it does not cause any allergic reactions to people with sensitive skin. But lower karat Gold will turn your skin Green.

Why? Keep reading.

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However, pure gold, 24k gold, is a soft metal. As a result, jewelry makers combine it with other metals to increase its overall tensile strength.

Often, they mix gold with copper, palladium, nickel, or zinc, which makes it stronger, more affordable, and changes the color of gold.

The combined proportions of these metals with gold dictate their color. It is the combination of gold with these other metals that cause your finger to turn green.

When these metals oxidize, they cause skin discoloration; hence, the green color.


Why real gold jewelry turns your skin green? Reasons?

 As discussed above, pure gold is inert and biocompatible, meaning it does not readily react with other chemical substances or solvents. However, real gold jewelry may turn your finger green due to certain factors. They include:

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1. Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that results from an allergic reaction on the surface of your skin. In other words, it is a skin condition that results from metal abrasion.

When you put on your gold ring, it may react with the chemicals from your make-up or cosmetics that you apply on your skin, causing skin discoloration or rashes.

In other cases, you may find that you are allergic to the gold itself. Gold is a common allergen that induces dermatitis on the eyelids, face, or where the skin comes into contact with the piece of jewelry. The allergic reaction may cause your finger to turn green, among other symptoms.


2. The copper content on your gold jewelry

Pure gold is often mixed with other metals, including copper, to increase its strength and workability.

Sometimes, you may find your skin is naturally acidic, causing the copper content in your ring to oxidize, forming copper oxide.

This reaction often occurs during high heat or under humid conditions, which causes you to sweat immensely.

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3. Corrosion of the metals combined with gold

Your finger may also turn green from wearing your gold ring due to the corrosion of the metals mixed with the gold. Gold metal does not corrode.

However, the metals used to increase its workability readily corrode, forming dark chemical compounds under moist and humid conditions.

Similarly, when you sweat and release fats and fatty acids from your body, the metals readily react, turning your finger green.

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4. Anemia

Sometimes, skin discoloration from wearing gold rings is as a result of iron deficiency. Iron levels in your body may affect its pH levels, making it more acidic.

As a result, if your body is naturally acidic, a gold ring with nickel or copper metal content reacts to form the green color on your skin.


5. Nickel content

If your gold ring contains nickel metal in it, it can cause skin discoloration.

In the case of nickel, you will find that your finger turns black, instead of green like in the case of copper.

Often, you can find nickel in low-quality gold jewelry or as a base metal in gold-plated jewelry. If the gold-plating wears off, it exposes the nickel beneath it, resulting in skin discoloration.

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6. Other external factors

Certain external factors, like antibiotics, residues from soaps, lotions, detergents, and cleansers, may build-up on your skin to cause a chemical or allergic reaction, leading to skin discoloration.

The metal content in your gold jewelry may react on the surface of your skin, causing the point of contact to turn green.


Does 14k gold tarnish green?

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Quick answer: Yes. 14K gold will tarnish Green.

14K gold refers to gold that is 14 parts pure gold and ten parts alloy. As a result, 14k gold consists of ten non-gold metals like copper, silver, nickel, bronze, zinc, and more metals. 14k gold has enough strength and durability to last for a long time, without the need for plating it.

Since 14k gold consists of ten parts non-gold metal, it tends to cause skin discoloration. Gold itself does not easily react with other chemical substances.

However, the other metals may oxidize, leading to discoloration of your skin. Rhodium-plated white gold does not discolor due to its tarnish-resistant nature.


Do 18k and 22k gold jewelry tarnish?

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18k gold consists of 75% gold and 25% non-gold metal alloy, while 22k gold consists of 22 parts pure gold and two parts alloy.

Often, you will find gold rings, watches, necklaces, and bracelets made from 18k gold as it is the most refined and workable form of gold available in the market.

In some occasions, you may also find 22k gold jewelry, but not as readily available as the 18k gold pieces.

18k and 22k gold jewelry have a vibrant and yellow appearance and are some of the purest forms of gold available in the jewelry industry.

As a result, there is a reduced risk of harmful metals used in their making. The amount of copper or nickel metal mixed in with the gold is often too minimal to cause skin irritation or discoloration.

However, you may need to have the piece often polished, to maintain its lustrous appearance.



The quality of your gold ring jewelry matters when it comes to skin discoloration.

The higher the gold metal content in your piece of jewelry, the lesser the chances it is for it to react with your skin.

Generally, the skin discoloration effect is not harmful. You may choose to apply clear lacquer on your jewelry regularly to prevent it from turning your finger green.

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