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Why is my silver turning black or green?

on November 28, 2023

The skin, when in contact with jewelry, can react in different ways depending mainly on the material it is made of, the type of skin and other variables such as climate, sweat and chemicals. Sometimes all these variables create uncomfortable situations, such as a change in coloration, so if you are wondering "Why is my silver turning black or green?", like many of our regular readers, here we clarify it for you.

Why is my silver turning black or green?


Why does silver turn black?: The most common reasons

Silver is turning black for different reasons. Many times people talk about the oxidation of silver, which is a misconception because silver does not oxidize since it does not react to oxygen but to sulfur. This reaction is what tarnishes it and gives it a yellowish or black color, which is not aesthetically pleasing to jewelry or accessories.

One of the main reasons sterling silver turns black is due to skin contact with makeup. Cosmetics contain chemical compounds that are more abrasive than the jewelry itself, which release tiny metal particles that do oxidize.

Moisture in the air or on the skin can cause the copper in silver to react and discolor to a greenish hue. In warm, humid climates, this happens quite frequently. 

Sulfur particles are one of the reasons for the silver ring turning black. These compounds cause silver to tarnish quickly, thanks to the action of silver sulfide. Sulfur can be found in hot springs, swimming pools, vegetables and seafood.

Soaps and cleaning products can accumulate in jewelry, especially rings, generating contact dermatitis that darkens the pieces. It is also common for cosmetic soaps to accumulate on accessories and cause, for example, earrings to turn black.

How can this color change be solved and prevented?

To avoid discoloration, it is best to remove all silver jewelry while you are applying makeup. 

It is also advisable to wash hands with soap and water after contact with makeup products. 

Polishing jewelry frequently with a special silver polishing cloth can prevent discoloration of accessories. For that silver chain that is turning black and cannot be saved by home polishing, the ideal is to take it to the jewelry store to have its luster restored.

All silver jewelry should be kept out of the bathroom and out of all areas where it can receive water. It is best not to wear silver jewelry if you are going to do physical exercise, go to a swimming pool, a steam bath, or a sauna.

It is also very important to avoid wearing silver jewelry in highly contaminated areas. If you are going to come into contact with charcoal, oil or cooking by handling sulfur-containing foods such as fish, eggs or shellfish, it is best to remove silver accessories.

When a silver necklace turns black, you should stop wearing it to clean it and prevent the discoloration from affecting the piece completely and even transferring to the skin. If the leather is already stained, the best thing to do is to clean the area with soap and water.

Allergies: a rare but possible reason for a color change

Sometimes the skin can react with silver alloys, causing tarnish. Although silver is an antiallergic precious metal, it can happen that a reaction is generated, not by the silver itself but by some material used in the mixture to obtain the jewelry.

This allergy is known as silver contact dermatitis and is not very common, but it can happen. The sensitivity may manifest as itching, redness of the area, irritation and inflammation.

In very rare and extreme cases, the allergy can cause blistering and peeling of the skin. If you suspect you may be suffering from this allergy, it is best to stop wearing silver and see a dermatologist for proper treatment. 

If you are diagnosed with a silver allergy, you should follow certain basic recommendations. The first is to wear hypoallergenic jewelry, such as those made of titanium, niobium or stainless steel, which are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Avoid direct contact with any silver object, be it utensils, coins, ornaments, or jewelry. Etc. If this cannot be avoided, latex or cloth gloves should be worn to avoid skin contact.

It is always advisable to use gold and platinum jewelry in a high-purity composition, since it is less likely to generate any allergies.

Platinum as a non-color-changing alternative

If silver goes black, there is a well-known option that can be used, and that is platinum. 

This precious metal, considered one of the rarest, has strength and durability superior to all other metals thanks to its purity. Jewelry made with this metal usually has a composition of almost 100% pure platinum.

Platinum never loses the solidity of its color, the gray with clear, shiny sparkles that characterize it will always remain the same shade.  

Platinum is more valuable than gold precisely because of this characteristic. It is a symbol of luxury, durability and elegance above all else.

It is a metal that does not erode, and its alloys are purer than gold, which also influences the final price. In addition, thanks to its density, it takes, for example, more pure platinum to make a ring than a gold ring of the same size, and the production process requires more skilled labor. For all these reasons, the value of platinum is much higher than that of other metals.

If you are looking for platinum jewelry options at Albert Hern you can choose the accessory that best suits your needs, such as these:


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