Hi Elizabeth, I've always heard that when precious metals
darken with skin contact, it is the result of the body oils
with the *alloys* of the metal.
Actual oils, or waxes, don’t react, but perspiration is a salt
water solution, and it does sometimes. Other body chemistry can
also affect this.
I do know that by rhodium plating the inside of rings worn by
people with this problem, it can be alleviated.
rhodium is not only inert, but is very hard and resistant to
Obviously higher karat golds would have less problems, right?
They will have less problems with perspiration or body chemistry
caused darkening, as well as problems with rashes caused by
copper or other alloy components in the gold.
I certainly haven't heard of makeup causing patinas, but who
knows what they put in that stuff....
Makeup is one of the biggest causes of staining, both on
clothing and on skin. Many makups contain pigments such as tin or
cerium oxide. These are similar to polishing compounds and if
rubbed on the gold, will do the same as polishing compounds on a
buff will do. Brighten the gold/silver, while turning the buff
black. A little of your makeup on a white scrap of cloth will
tell you easily enough, when rubbed on your jewelry, if it’s a
possible cause of problems, but you can also tell by what’s
happening. If the jewelry itself is discoloring, or if stains on
the finger are accompanied by rash or irritation, then it’s not
so likely the makeup, but a chemical interaction with the skin.
If the metal seems clean enough, but the skin or clothing is
turning dark, then it’s likely either makup, or with new
jewelry, residual polishing compound left on the jewelry and not
completely cleaned off before delivery to the customer. And of
course, you can have combinations of the above…