Sterling Silver and Skin Discoloration - Causes and Solutions May 10 2014

Tradecraft Jewelry is made with pure, unplated 925 Sterling or Argentium Sterling Silver from only the most reputable and trusted US suppliers.  

Statistics say 2-3% of people have skin chemistry that causes sterling silver alloys to turn their skin green, black, or grey.  If you have experienced this issue, please read the information below for causes, prevention, and solutions. 

  • Can 925 Sterling or Argentium Sterling Silver turn your finger green or other colors?  Yes.  It is very rare, but it can happen.  When sterling silver tarnishes, the jewelry turns black, which can then rub off on skin and cause black discoloration. People with moist skin may also notice green discoloration. To avoid discoloration caused by tarnishing, polish your jewelry regularly with a silver polishing cloth or silver cleaner, and always be sure to keep your jewelry clean and dry.  
  • Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper, or germanium for argentium silver. (Source: There can be quite a bit of variance from manufacturer to manufacturer in that other 7.5% and that is why one sterling silver ring may cause a reaction while another does not.
  • Here is some great information about the chemical reaction that can cause skin to turn green/colors in a small percentage of people, and some possible solutions, courtesy of the seller CoolRings on eBay:
  • "Silver is Beautiful, however pure silver is too soft and can easily scratch and become damaged, so it is alloyed with copper to make Sterling Silver (92.5% silver+7.5% copper). this is how we get the mark 925 for sterling silver.
  • Don't panic, This "green finger effect" is a reaction to the copper alloy in the sterling silver specially if you have high body acidity . It happens to about 2-3% of people and percentage is increasing due to increased percentages of chemicals in our environment and food we eat. 
  • Sometimes these reactions are occasional and happen when someone eats something with high acidity like tomatoes, if someone is taking certain medications, or due to excitement.
  • Soaking the ring for a day or two in a 50/50 mixture of household ammonia and water will take care of the problem. 
  • Another solution is to simply clean the ring every day with a silver polishing cloth . After about a week or two, the reaction will stop occurring
  • Applying a layer of Jeweler's Skin Guard (which we can provide for you) on the inside of the ring will prevent perspiration & body sweat from reaching the metal and reacting to it. Clear nail polish will also work.
  • Keep your skin dry when wearing jewelry.  Remove ring before showering, sleeping, exercising, strenuous activities, or using cleaning products.
  • Keep your jewelry clean. If the piece begins to tarnish, clean it immediately.

  • Mass produced retail store jewelry is often plated with rhodium (rhodium is a form or platinum), which prevents this reaction from happening to anyone with the allergy. Not all silver rings are plated.  All of the items sold on are made with pure, unplated, 925 sterling silver or Argentium sterling silver. We do not do any electroplating, or use any plated metals, silver filled metals, etc. 

  • If you are interested in having your jewelry rhodium plated, a local jeweler can usually do this for you  fairly inexpensively.