Why Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green?

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Among the precious metals, silver is the most available and affordable. That is why it is a popular choice for most jewelers when making mid-range to low-range jewelry.

The type of silver commonly used, however, is sterling silver. It offers quality and great durability for a cheaper price.

Pieces made from this metal are subtle but stunning and compliment any skin tone well. They, however, tend to tarnish which is why rhodium plating is used, which also enhances the shine.

Still, it is possible to find that sterling silver that was supposedly plated with rhodium can turn your finger or skin green. How is that possible? Could it mean that rhodium can also turn fingers or skin green?

In this article we will be exploring this question further, to determine how rhodium plated silver could turn fingers green. As a bonus, we will also share with you how to avoid it.


Does Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green?

Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green

The answer is yes. There is a likely possibility that rhodium-plated sterling silver can turn your finger green. Rhodium alone is non-corrosive, rust and oxidization-resistant metal.

It is an expensive metal but too brittle to make jewelry with, that is why rhodium makes the perfect metal for plating. The plating itself should not be able to turn your fingers green or any other color for that matter.

So, how then is it possible that even with the rhodium plating, the sterling silver can turn your finger green? The truth is plating is normally thin layers that easily fade over time.

Rhodium plating can last between 3 months to one year, depending on how well it is taken care of. Because rhodium and silver share a similar color, it may not be easy to tell when the plating has faded. The only indicator could be the loss of some shine on the silver.

Most people may mistake this for tarnish and try to polish the silver, further removing the rhodium plating. Therefore, if your finger turned green from the silver, it is because the rhodium plating is completely or partially faded.


Why Does Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green?

We have already established one reason why silver can discolor your finger. That is the fading of rhodium plating. As you know the plating is meant to prevent the silver from tarnishing and also prevents rusting and oxidation.

Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green

In other words, the rhodium acts as a protective layer for the silver. Without it, your fingers are likely to discolor under the right conditions.

You must be wondering, how come precious metal as silver could still discolor the skin. The truth is that pure silver would never cause any discoloration to the skin. Sterling silver is, however, made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.

This is to make it hard enough and more suitable for making jewelry. The presence of copper is the main reason behind the green color you may observe. As you know, copper is a corrosive metal.

The coloring is a result of oxidation. This is simply the chemical reaction between your skin and the copper causing the metal to oxidize and it is a result of the skin’s high pH as well as any chemicals or cosmetics on the skin. A place with high humidity or the presence of moisture also encourages discoloring.

The green coloring does not mean that the silver used was of poor quality. The oxidation in metals is bound to happen under certain conditions. The green coloring should also not be a cause of worry.

To remove the stain, you can try scrubbing the area with warm water and soap. For stubborn stains, you can first wipe over them with rubbing alcohol, or make-up or nail polish remover, before cleaning with soap.


Tips For Protecting Your Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Jewelry.

Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green

Now that you know why a rhodium-plated silver piece would turn your finger green, you must be wondering how you can protect the plating and prevent discoloration.

The following are some tips you can use:

Avoid rubbing off the rhodium plating.

As you know the layer of rhodium used is very thin. It is, therefore, easier to rub them off with activities like constantly washing your hands or rubbing your hands together.

If you are in a profession that requires you to do these activities often you might want to take off your ring and wear it on your neck while working.


Do not expose your rhodium-plated silver piece to harsh chemicals.

The chemicals may react with the silver piece and cause the plating to wear off faster by weakening it.

You should therefore always check the chemical content of the products you handle, including your body products.

If you do have to handle harsh chemicals then you should wear heavy gloves to protect the ring. Or you can take it off while working and wear it again later.

Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green

Always keep it dry.

Moisture also tends to increase the wear of the plating and increase the chances of discoloration.

So when showering, swimming, or coming into contact with water, you should first take off the silver piece.

Swimming is something you should especially avoid given the presence of chlorine which can damage the plating and result in intense tarnishing.


Keep metal from rubbing on metal.

This applies when layering your necklace or stacking your rings. If the jewelry keeps moving around the metal will keep rubbing together.

This may result in the plating getting rubbed off in the process and exposing the silver underneath.

For rings especially, ensure you get the right fit when stacking. Another option would be soldering the rings together to keep them from moving.

Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Turn Finger Green

Apply nail polish or a polymer barrier.

Both of these can preserve the rhodium plating, by protecting it from chemicals and moisture.

The layer also prevents the green discoloration from occurring in case the rhodium does fade away. Remember to use clear nail polish so as not to ruin the color and shine of the silver.



Sterling silver is one of the simplest metals to use. Aside from the tarnishing and susceptibility to oxidation, the metal is durable and affordable.

Next time you observe a green coloring on your finger after wearing your silver ring, it should be an indication that the rhodium plating wore off and needs to be re-plated. As long as the rhodium plating is in place, you should not have to worry about any of the green colors appearing on your finger.

You can preserve the plating for as long as possible by using the tips we shared with you.

Read more jewelry metal tips here or here!

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