Customer's Finger Turning "Green"

Hello all,

I hope that you can help me. I just made a ring for a friend of mine
in 14k yellow gold. The gold is from a very reputable company that
serves the pacific northwest. It was cast in the shop that I work in.
I did the polishing and my co-worker set the stones. My friend wore
the ring for about 1 week and complained to me that her finger was
turning green. I suspect it was more black than green, and when she
showed me I could see nothing, but she assures me it was much worse
the day before. Now I have seen this in customers from time to time,
fingers turning black from 14k gold, but they tend to have that
problem with all 14k. This friend of mine has at least 2 other rings
that she wears daily that are 14k as well as earrings and chains that
do not turn her skin colors. Is this a fluke? What should I recommend
to her? Is it something I have done? I could only find on the forum
info on silver discoloring fingers, but not gold. I must confess to
being a bit mortified, she and her husband are thinking that I have
somehow given her an inferior product.

Any help, suggestions, or consolation out there?


Regarding the customer’s finger reacting to 14k gold

I am sure jewelry makers will write in on this subject but it is
something that has come up from time to time in the magazines I write
for and the answer is usually something like this:

It is not the gold that causes a black or other color smudge on the
wearer’s skin. It is the other metals used to alloy the gold. This is
the reason that some 14k gold might be okay while another alloy might
not be. This rarely happens with 18k or higher alloys because the
percentage of base metals is smaller. Gold is a highly inert metal and
is not the culprit.

The jeweler is not at fault; some people have distinct chemical
reactions with certain metals. I know one person who cannot wear a
watch because his skin chemistry causes the base metal on the case to

Ettagale Blauer

You’re going to get a lot of answers on the board. There is no fix.
14k gold is 42% alloys and like apple pie, everyone’s mixture is a
little different. That’s why other 14kt doesn’t bother her. You might
have more copper in your mixture than others.

I typed in 14kt yellow gold alloys in Google. Here’s what I got

58% GOLD
4-28% SILVER
14-28% COPPER

Notice the difference. The lady turns colors because one of the
alloys (or two much of it) reacts with her:

  1. Medication she takes
  2. Vitamins she takes
  3. Hand cream
  4. Other body chemistry.

There is no fix. You can paint the inside of her ring with finger
nail polish, what a fine solution to “fine jewelry”.

If the ring turns only the ring FINGER color, we’d in our store size
the ring larger and make a 18kt yellow gold sleeve, insert it into
the ring and weld it in. 18kt yellow gold is 75% pure and 99% of the
time NEVER turns fingers color.

We’ve stripped rings, refinished, etc. Nothing fixes. The only thing
that has fixed some customers is getting them to change their hand
creames and colognes.

If you ask around, some women have this problem only in seasons, as
they change their creams in winter and summer.

Men hardly ever have this problem, we don’t wear hand creams.

Now convince a woman it’s her fault and to change her cream!

David Geller

JewelerProfit, Inc.
510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA. 30328
(404) 255-9565 Voice
(404) 252-9835 Fax


You have a problem with a customer’s finger discoloring from wearing
a 14ct ring that you made. Assuming that you got your gold from a
reliable source, the alloy of 14ct gold should be at least 58% fine
gold to other metals which can be silver, copper and other base
metals depending on what color gold you want. It is a fact that some
people’s bodies create acids from their bodies ( sweat) and this can
react with the non gold metal alloys in the 14ct.alloy. I would
suggest that you get the ring, hard gold plated with about 5 microns
of thickness, this should stop the finger discoloration problem for
many years. Perhaps in future you should switch to using 18ct gold
for your rings.

Best wishes James Miller in the UK

Also to this extent: Some people are big tomato or orange jucies.
High acidic rates are a problem as well and in some cases it could be
medications so it is not always “The Jeweller”.

I had a customer really slam me because I made her ring and her skin
turned black and she made me make her piece over while she held on to
the original piece and the same thing happened and I went to the labs
with my problem and they proved the purity of my project and and told
me to ask the lady if she liked Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers and she
confessed to heavy inductions and that case was solved and I charged
her twice and she keeps both pieces. Time line on this situation was
in the 1970’s

Stephen Wyrick
GIA Gemmologist, CMBJ, CSMP

Also to this extent: Some people are big tomato or orange jucies.
High acidic rates are a problem as well and in some cases it could
be medications so it is not always "The Jeweller". 

I did a (small) show once and it turned out to be a total bust as
the entire town had that complaint about everything short of 18k, I
figure it must be something in the water at that point.

Norah Kerr

To David Geller

I am a hand-cream wearing man. Here’s the catch. I buy the stuff at
livestock feed/vet supply type places.

My brands are Corona, for hooves and general salving of wounds, and
Bag Balm, an udder treatment.

Makes for strong fingernails, and fast healing of cuts.

Dan Woodard - Indian Jewelers Supply Co

I have had a number of gold rings in my lifetime, including the
never-removed wedding band; but there was one…and only one…that
turned my finger green. It was a garnet cluster ring with a 14 karat
yellow gold shank…made in Germany. Every time I wore the thing my
finger turned green. My conclusion is that there was something in
that particular alloy that caused the problem, as none of the other
rings,even worn at the same time, did that.