So, you purchased a beautiful new gold ring, wore it for some wonderful hours of enjoyment, and now it’s “turning” or discoloring skin, clothing or the jewelry itself. 

This doesn’t happen to everybody, but if you are among the select few, you probably think it’s due to faulty manufacturing or underkarating (less gold in the ring then indicated by the stamping – like 14k). However, this is not the case and I’d like to try to help you understand the phenomenon and how to avoid it.

The most common reason is metallic abrasion caused by makeup on your skin or clothing. Cosmetics often contain compounds that are harder than the metal in the jewelry. These compounds can wear off very fine particles of the metal which always appear black rather than metallic. So, it looks like a jet-black dust. When this dust comes into contact with absorbent surfaces such as skin or clothing, it sticks and forms a kind of black smudge.

To prevent this, try switching cosmetics or, if that’s not practical or desirable, remove your rings and other jewelry while applying them, then clean the skin areas that will be in contact with the jewelry with soap and water.

Another cause of “turning” is the actual corrosion of the metal. Although pure gold does not corrode, its primary alloys, silver and copper, do. Consequently, dark chemical compounds are formed, especially under moist or wet conditions.

When you perspire, fats and fatty acids are released that can cause corrosion, especially when exposed to warmth and air. The problem can be worse in seacoast and semitropical areas, where chlorides combine with perspiration to form a corrosive element that discolors skin. Also, fumes from smog attack jewelry and become evident as a tarnish that rubs off onto the skin. You may have some success removing your jewelry often and using an absorbent powder, free of abrasives, on skin that comes into contact with the pieces.

Even the design of your jewelry can be an influence. Wide shanks have more surface area to contact abrasives or corrosives. Concave surfaces inside a shank form collection points that trap moisture and contaminants, sometimes causing a type of dermatitis. Remove all rings before using soaps, cleaning compounds and detergents, and clean your rings frequently. As well as solving the problem, you’ll be amazed at how much better your rings look.

If all else fails, we can rhodium plate the inside of your ring, which keeps the gold surface from coming in direct contact with your skin. In any case, you should be aware of the fact that this problem is not all that unusual, and you probably haven’t done anything wrong. If you notice a problem, come to Iowa Diamond and speak with one of our professionals. We’ll try to help discover the cause and work together to find a solution.