If you have noticed some black or dark gray discoloration of your skin, say around your ear, neck, or finger, you may be wondering how it’s even possible that the stain is there, yet you have what you consider one of the very best silver jewelry.
You should know that this happened to just you and that many other people fond of sterling silver jewelry have had similar struggles. It is expected, though disappointing, that your silver ring or any other type of silver jewelry will leave black marks on your fingers.
We’ll learn more about why this happens in the following sections of this article, but first, does everyone struggle with this?
The silver ring leaves a black mark on the finger- anyone else?
The good and bad news about rings and jewelry made of silver (sterling silver) is that everyone with jewelry made of this metal will, at some point, suffer the unfortunate fate of black marks on their finger. And so, even though it is annoying, it is a problem that everyone suffers.
The black discoloration on the ring and your finger, sometimes green, results from a chemical reaction between the acidic components on and in your skin and the metal that the ring is made of.
In many instances, the reaction between the metal and the products on your hands will increase the reaction rate and even the severity of the discoloration, or rather, how fast the jewelry gets tarnished.
So, the products you use may be the most significant source of discoloration and black stains. But then, there are foods or over-the-counter vitamins and prescription medications whose high acid content will affect your body and how some metals interact with your skin.
Then there is the fact that a sterling silver (silver) ring tarnishes naturally, with exposure to water when showering, cleaning, or swimming increasing the rate of tarnishing and, consequently, the degree of discoloration from the ring.
Sulfur in the air (hydrogen sulfide) also reacts with silver, forming a silver salt that may stain or discolor your fingers. Some people have unreactive skin, or rather, their skin is not very acidic, meaning that they will not experience much of this problem.
The ring will tarnish after some time and exposure to harsh conditions or conditions that encourage oxidation of sterling silver (or copper in the sterling silver alloy). Still, the black layer of tarnish is not necessarily transferred to the skin.
We ought to mention that there are instances when the discoloration is somewhat green.
This often happens with sterling silver because of the presence of copper in sterling silver and the fact that copper reacts with oxygen and other molecules in the environment, forming a copper salt that is often seen as a greenish-blue residue on the skin and the ring.
Is it bad if your finger turns black from a silver ring?
Your finger turning black after wearing the silver ring for some time shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
The reaction that causes that color change is not an allergic reaction, and the stain will fade away after some time.
You can also clean the black residue off the ring easily with warm water and soap solution and maybe a soft-bristled brush to eliminate any stubborn dirt or tarnish.
To reiterate, black discoloration is from the reaction of silver and copper in sterling silver with molecules in the air or acids on/ in your skin that cause the oxidation of silver and the subsequent production of black tarnish that leaves a dark mark on your finger.
When your finger turns black from a silver ring, does it mean it’s fake?
A silver ring turning your finger black doesn’t mean you bought a fake ring.
All silver and 925 sterling silver rings will turn black after some time because silver and copper, which are alloyed with silver to form sterling silver, are both reactive metals that get oxidized easily by different molecules exposed to in the environment.
So, even the highest quality silver jewelry will tarnish gold too.
This doesn’t mean they are fake. The oxidation of sterling silver jewelry is why your expensive silverware must be cleaned and polished after some time.
They dull over time, and if left unattended for years, they will develop black specks. So, your sterling silver ring turning the fingers black is expected.
Why your silver ring leaves a black mark on your finger?
Acidic skin – some people have naturally acidic skin, so they will react to jewelry, regardless of the metal that the jewelry is made of.
Oxidation from environmental exposure – while you don’t have complete control over this, there are things that you can do to reduce the speed of tarnishing, especially for sterling silver jewelry.
Sterling silver or silver jewelry will tarnish when exposed to skin and body care products, including lotions and perfumes. Showers, swimming, cleaning products, etc., all increase the risk of jewelry oxidation.
The only way to slow down the discoloration would be by taking the ring off when doing something or anything that will increase its risk of getting tarnished.
How do you keep a silver ring from turning your finger black?
As we have determined above, there is a very high likelihood that your sterling silver jewelry will tarnish after some time. However, this doesn’t mean ignoring the pieces or keeping them away to avoid tarnishing.
It also doesn’t mean that you should not wear your sterling silver jewelry. If anything, one of the best ways of reducing the risk of tarnishing is actually by wearing the jewelry.
Silver jewelry tends to tarnish at a much higher rate when not worn. After some time, the sterling silver jewelry that you wear often will lose the original shine, but it will retain its warm silver look or natural patina, which is common with silver pieces that have been worn well.
But there is more you could do.
- Clean it regularly– we quipped above that one of the best things about the tarnished layer on sterling silver jewelry can be removed by cleaning the jewelry. The only thing you need to do is to clean the jewelry frequently. You only need water and a gentle dishwashing liquid detergent to keep the ring clean and tarnish-free. Here is a post for you: How to clean silver jewelry!
- Jewelry goes on last– only wear your silver rings and other jewelry pieces after wearing makeup, lotion, perfumes, etc. This means after they have dried on the skin. This reduces the rate of oxidation and tarnishing.
- Don’t swim with the ring on– besides the high risk of losing the ring in the pool water because your fingers naturally shrink in cold water; there is also chlorine known to increase the rate of tarnishing for sterling silver jewelry rapidly.
- Proper storage– keep the jewelry safe in an airtight jewelry box or pouch.
- Nail polish treatment– clear nail polish is your best friend if your ring keeps leaving behind a dark-colored hint of tarnish on your finger. Apply the polish on the ring to create a barrier between the skin and the layer of sterling silver. Don’t forget that this is a temporary fix, and you must reapply the polish as needed. An alternative to this is a polymer barrier.
- Finally, you could pickle it in a solution made of equal parts ammonia and water.
Wondering why the area on your skin that the ring sits on is turning black?
It’s a natural reaction of silver to your skin and the environment and not something that should freak you out.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.