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We’ve all experienced it at one point. We spend a whole day wearing our favorite jewelry, running errands and feeling fabulous. We return home, release ourselves from our jewels and the weight of a long day, only to discover a peculiar and unwelcome sight: Green Finger.

What is this phenomenon and why does it happen when wearing certain types of jewelry? Contrary to popular belief, the ring of skin that turns green underneath a piece of jewelry doesn’t occur due to the poor quality of the ring, nor is it harmful. It is a perfectly normal, yet rare, response to certain materials within the jewelry, and can appear when wearing fine expensive jewelry just as much as with more affordable options. But how does it work, and how can it be prevented? 

Why does my finger turn green? 

The patch of skin in contact with a ring turns green when the materials oxidize. This means they react to the pH levels of your skin and create a tarnish, which then leaves a stain on the skin. People who happen to have a higher acidic pH within their skin tend to experience this phenomenon more often and, whilst rare, it’s worth knowing what to do when such an instance arises.

Another common culprit is the chemicals in your hand creams which will cause the metal to oxidize even if your skin is not sensitive to metals.

The most common ingredient in any piece of jewelry that causes this scenario is copper. Copper is a useful alloy (stabilizing material) that is combined with silver or gold-plated jewelry in order to secure the shape and consistency of the piece. Pure gold and silver are naturally too soft to work with, and therefore must be alloyed (stabilized) with other materials in order to create a secure, good-quality piece of jewelry. For example, the 925 sterling silver jewelry that we offer here at Mason & Madison Co., is composed of 92.5% silver, and 7.5% copper (hence, the number 925). This formula results in the highest quality silver jewelry, and is used by high-end brands as well as more affordable fashion jewelry brands, and therefore it must never be assumed that a trace of copper equals poor quality. Quite the contrary, it makes your jewelry stronger.


What can I do to prevent my skin turning green?

If you are one of the few people who experience staining when you wear jewelry, there are some steps you can take to prevent such occurrences and better enjoy your accessories.

  1. Keep the area dry

Take off your rings before you wash your hands, shower, or go swimming. Damp skin can often expedite the process of oxidation and cause a more noticeable green stain on your skin. If you are going swimming, it’s especially important to remove your jewelry, as the chlorine will leave a green stain and also damage your jewelry!

  1. Pay attention with lotions

Chemicals found in lotions can also react to the materials in your jewelry, therefore causing a darker stain on your skin. Make sure the lotion has absorbed into your skin completely before putting on your rings.

  1. Ask about what materials are in your jewelry

Whilst green staining can happen from many different types of jewelry—both high and low quality, it is true that lower quality jewelry is more likely to cause a stain. Always be aware of what materials are present in your rings, in order to avoid the Green Finger. Stainless steel, 925 sterling silver, platinum, rhodium-plated and gold-plated materials are all made from safe materials that are good for sensitive skin, and yet can still cause some staining. Try to avoid nickel, as it is the cheapest and lowest quality material that can be found in jewelry, and is known to cause irritation and infection. Mason & Madison Co. jewelry do not contain nickel. If you are unsure, please contact us at support@masonmadison.com

  1. Apply a polymer barrier

One of the best and most effective ways to avoid the Green Finger is to apply a polymer barrier to the inner band of your rings. This effectively creates a barrier between the jewelry and your skin, which prevents oxidization and staining.  A Jewelry Shield product is cheap to buy, and you will need to reapply every few weeks once it has worn away. This is by far the cheapest and most efficient way of reducing Green Finger, without splashing out on expensive solid-gold or solid-platinum accessories!

  1. Try clear nail polish

If in dire immediate need, another alternative to a polymer barrier is clear nail polish. Just as with a polymer barrier, you can apply a layer of nail varnish to the inside of your rings in order to form some protection between the metals and your skin. This method is less effective, however, and can also change the appearance of your jewelry.


What do I do to treat a green finger?

Knowing how to avoid jewelry staining is useful, but you’re probably reading this article because you have already fallen prey to the unfortunate Green Finger. What can you do to remove the staining?

The first and most obvious step is to remove the stain by scrubbing your skin with soap and warm water. Use a nailbrush to provide a little more friction.

If this doesn’t work, you can also use make-up remover or rubbing alcohol for more stubborn stains. Wipe over the affected area with some cotton, and then rinse of with warm water and soap.

For particularly dark and troublesome stains, you may also use a non-acetone nail varnish remover. Again, use a cotton pad to apply gently over the stain, and rinse with soap and warm water. This method should be your last option however, and should not be used on a regular basis, as it is harsher on the skin and can cause dryness.


How will Mason & Madison Co. jewelry affect my skin?

Here at Mason & Madison Co., we only use high quality 925 sterling silver, platinum-plated, rhodium-plated and 18k gold-plated jewelry in our products. You will never find nickel in our pieces, which is a cheap, low-quality metal that is known to cause irritation and infection. If you have sensitive skin, jewelry that contains platinum, rhodium and stainless steel is especially known to be less reactive, and will most likely compliment your skin type.

All these products involve some measure of copper, whether it is to shape and strengthen the pieces, or lend them their gorgeous tint and sheen (as with our popular rose-gold jewelry). Again, copper is found in most high-end jewelry, and is a perfectly safe material. If you find that the trace of copper is causing slight staining, you can follow the simple steps above to prevent and treat the marks, or alternatively, opt for solid gold / stainless steel base jewelry.


Mason & Madison Co. jewelry care

If you wear your Mason & Madison Co. pieces every day, first of all, thank you! We are ecstatic that you love our products enough to make them your daily staple. However over the time, it is inevitable that the protective rhodium, platinum or gold plating will wear away over the time, revealing more copper contact with your skin. Showing a little love and taking care of your Mason & Madison Co. pieces will forestall this natural wear and tear.

To extend the life of your jewelry, give them occasional breaks from every day wear, and keep them away from any moisture and especially chemicals.

  • Avoid sweat
  • Wipe with soft cloth
  • Avoid sleeping in your jewelry
  • Avoid chemicals - Wait for hand and face creams to absorb completely before putting on any jewelry (chemicals in creams are one of the main culprits!)
  • Avoid bathing, showering or washing your hands with jewelry on

Give your pieces a wipe with a soft cloth to clean them. You can also keep them in a small cloth bag, away from humidity, when not in use in order to minimize scratching and oxidation.

By taking precautionary steps and proper care of your jewelry, you can say goodbye to unsightly stains and marks. Remember that green staining is not necessarily due to the jewelry being ‘fake’ or cheap, but can happen with even the highest quality brands! Simply follow this guide, and you can flaunt your Mason & Madison Co. pieces with confidence and comfort. Give the Green Finger the finger.


Are there any options for sensitive skin?

If you know you have sensitive skin and have had a reaction with either copper, brass, 925 sterling silver, Gold-plated, Palladium/Rhodium plated jewelry - you are likely to have the same reaction again.

It is recommended that you opt for solid gold jewelry instead.

Please email support@masonmadison.com for more information.