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Why Does Some Jewelry Leave Green Stains on the Skin?

As pretty and as accessible as costume jewelry is, it is also significantly less durable than precious metals and even stainless steel. One of the most widespread issues with copper jewelry is the metal’s ability to stain your skin green. Why does it occur? And how can you prevent your copper rings, necklaces, and other jewelry from leaving these unsightly stains on your skin? Read on to find out.

Why does copper jewelry leave stains on the skin?

You can find copper in a lot of things, including jewelry. Since copper is much cheaper than precious metals like silver, gold, and even stainless steel, jewelry made of this metal is usually more accessible. So if you like to accessorize and tend to switch up your jewelry often, buying copper jewelry will be easier on the wallet. Cheaper costume jewelry is often made of copper.
Jewelry Green Stains rings

But there’s one drawback with this accessible jewelry - it leaves greenish-blue marks on the skin. This occurs because the metal is very quick to oxidize. Oxidation is the process where a material - in this case, copper - changes when it comes in contact with oxygen molecules in air or water. Oxidation is why many metal statues containing copper often get covered in a green patina over time. A widely known example is the Statue of Liberty. 

In the case of your jewelry, however, the culprit behind the green stains is usually sweat, soap, or lotion. These liquids react with the jewelry and make it oxidize, turning the metal green. This is also why you will get those green stains on some days but not on others. 

Interestingly, even jewelry that claims to be gold or silver sometimes tarnishes. That’s because very few jewelry pieces are actually made of 100% gold or silver; other materials, such as copper or nickel are usually mixed in as well for durability or price reduction.

How to avoid the pesky green stains

Jewelry Green Stains earrings

First things first - if you get the green stains, don’t worry. They’re not dangerous and can be easily washed away with water. But if you’re looking to prevent the stains from recurring altogether, here are a few tips:

1. Avoid using lotion or soap when you have the jewelry on. For example, if you have to wash your hands, take off the ring before washing your hands and put it back on once your hands are clean and dry.
2. Don’t exercise while wearing copper jewelry or wear it in hot weather. Sweat can trigger copper oxidation, so avoid wearing your copper necklaces during a workout, a hike, or a swim.
3. Opt for metals that don’t oxidize, such as stainless steel, rhodium-plated jewelry, or silver and gold.
4. Coat the inside of the jewelry with clear nail polish. The coat of nail polish will protect the metal from oxidizing. This trick works wonders with copper rings, but it might be trickier to do with necklaces or jewelry items with intricate details. You can reapply when the initial coat of nail polish flakes off.

We hope you found this post useful. 

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H/T: Insider, Mental Floss

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