Skin discoloration from jewelry

I came across this on another list I belong to. I have read
several reasons for this occuring, but never related to diet or
health conditions. It was my understanding that the oils from the
body caused this reaction, i.e., makeup, soaps, etc. Any input
would be helpful…

Does anyone know what causes skin discoloration from jewelry? Is
there an herbal regime which might help? The person involved has
a very high metabolism,lots of nervous energy which she puts to
constructive use, is a breast cancer survivor, and often doesn’t
take the time to eat balanced meals. Her jewelry is of high
quality, 14 to 18k gold. Are there chemicals or perhaps an acid
condition in her system which are interacting with the metal to
turn her surrounding skin color to a rather black tone? Since I
am concerned about her post-cancer health, I am wondering if this
could be an indicator of a possible problem. She has not had the
color changes until recently. Any suggestions would be
appreciated. Thanks!


Hi Donna,

Many times it is the fault of a new medication or an increased
dose of one that is presently being used. It is definitely a
chemical reaction. Something has changed to cause this to
happen. It could even be a systemic change. I played guitar
for years and I could literally rust a set of strings in three
days. Suddenly my system changed and the problem magically
disappeared. Go figure.



Skip Meister
Orchid Jewelry Listserve Member
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor
ICQ 37319071
"No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe…while our legislature is in session."
Benjamin Franklin

Hi Donna.I have found internal causes of skin discolouration by
customers from certain medications (even the contraceptive pill
in some instances). Change in diet e.g. Alot of citrus fruit.
Bathing in geo thermal hot springs, the sulphurs can stay in the
skin and be released over many days. These are some of the causes
we have learned from our jewellers’ shop located in a geo thermal
orchard kind of area. Hope this helps,

Johnny Sherry -
Kaikohe, New Zealand.

Usually the reason for skin discoloration is the cosmetics worn.
Most cosmetics have bits of shell or other stuff to make it
sparkle, that abrades the jewelry metal, frees some of the base
metals which then react with perspiration. Basically (bad pun)
its like wearing copper or brass - gets a green ring around the
finger/neck. Has your client recently changed
cosmetics or taken up drinking lots of grapefruit juice? Judy

Terri: I have found for years that I cannot wear yellow gold of
any Karat and drink any type of alcoholic beverage without the
green discoloration appearing. I have been diabetic for years
and have also noted that it is much worse if my control is poor
because at that time one has a very acid pH. In my before
jewelry days I was a critical care nurse and frequently admitted
diabetic patients with those telltale green rings. I really
feel that it is related to the acid present systemically at the
time. My husband took all the yellow gold to our jeweler and he
plated it, I believe he said platinum. It was now longer yellow
but a soft platinum color some of which is still in my jewelry
box. Ronni in Washington

Donna it is most likely that this discoloration of her fingers
is due to the cosmetics she is using. Tell her to wash her hands
and not put any cream or anything else on. Best wishes, Etienne

Hello I have found that skin discolouration through jewellery,
can be caused by the persons intake of alcohol. The heavier your
customers drink, the more likely that the skin will discolour
underneath the piece of jewellery. Even with quality alloys.

As you can imagine it is a hard subject to raise with the
customer. Seen as they are already in a confrontational mood.

Brian S. Saynor BA (Hons)

i have always heard that if you take clear nail polish and put
it on the inside of a ring or anyother surface that touches the
skin it will stop the metal from leaving a black mark. now i
don’t know if that is a old wise tale, but many many years ago
when i was in the gold bus. we use to tell customers that. i
always was told it was the acid in you skin. maybe she is using
a different soap or skin product that might do it. hope that

Andrew and Jill Morrison
2197 N. Allen Avenue
Altadena, California 91001

ph (626)798-6588
FAX (626)791-0263
e’mail @A_J_Morrison

Donna, I have kept a number of aricles ( for counter-top use) to
show customers when they come in with this problem. There are a
number of reasons why gold will turn skin colors. The most common
is abrasion, cuased by makeup or medicated creams, lotions even
toothpaste on skin or clothing. The alloys in gold corrode,
forming dark compounds- under moist or wet conditions. Fatty
acids are released when a customer perspires causeing the
corrosion.Clorine is the worst for karat gold jewelry.And yes
your friends metabolism (or anyones) can affect the jewelry one
wears. So it isn’t under karated jewelery as some think. I have
much more info if you need it. Hope
this helps. Thomas

Certain medications containing sulfides may alter body chemistry
thus causing a reaction to metals on the skin


I, too experience a lot of discoloration from jewelry. I have
gotten to the point that I only wear gold, and even that, I
tarnish very easy. I believe that it may have something to do
with the acids in my skin, or sweat, or something, because I even
have trouble with if a ring is sized witha different karat of
gold, I will break it in no time. The reason I suspect acids is
because of the nature of acid on gold. I am to the point that I
can tolerate hardly any other metals on me without a reaction
within hours. I would also love any info that can be provided.
Thanks, J. Shaw