You may think that faulty manufacturing or underkarating might be
the problem when a gold ring "turns," blackening or discoloring
either the skin, clothing or the jewelry itself. However, this is not
the case. There are several reasons for discoloration of gold jewelry,
such as metallic abrasion and corrosion,
and they can sometimes be prevented with some general
The most common reason for jewelry "turning" is metallic abrasion,
caused by makeup on your skin or clothing. Cosmetics often contain compounds
harder than the jewelry itself. These compounds wear or rub off very
tiny particles of the precious metals. Very finely divided metal always
appears 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, forming a black smudge. To prevent this, you
should try switching cosmetics. If this is not possible, we recommend
that you remove your rings and other jewelry while applying your makeup,
and then clean the skin areas which will be in contact with the jewelry
with soap and water before putting the jewelry on.
Hairspray, perfume, perspiration, smog and other chemicals can also
cause discoloration. In this case, the discoloration is the actual corrosion
of the metals which are mixed, or alloyed, with the gold. Different
gold manufacturers may use different alloy percentages. Gold itself
does not corrode, or oxidize, but its primary alloy materials, silver
and copper, will do so. When they oxidize they form very dark chemical
compounds under moist or wet conditions.
When you perspire, fats and fatty acids released in the perspiration
can cause corrosion of 14 karat gold, especially when exposed to warmth.
This problem can be worse in seacoast areas, where chlorides combine
with the perspiration to form a corrosive element that discolors skin.
Even smog fumes will gradually attack jewelry and its effect is evident
as tarnish that rubs off on the skin.
Under these conditions, we suggest that you remove your jewelry often,
and use an absorbent powder which is free of abrasive compounds on the
skin which comes in contact with the jewelry. Sometimes, the actual
design of the jewelry can be an influencing factor. Wide shanks (the
underside portion of the ring) have more surface area to contact abrasives
or corrosives. Concave surfaces inside a shank form natural collection
points that trap moisture and contaminants, and can also cause a type
We suggest removing all rings before using soaps, cleaning compounds
or detergents, and that you clean and rinse your rings frequently. (Ask
Mrs. Gottrocks or your local jeweler about the proper way to clean colored
and organic stones so you won't ruin them by mistake.) As well as solving
the problem, you'll be amazed at how much better your rings look! Of
course, any time you stop in, most any jeweler would be glad to clean
your rings in your presence for you at no charge while you browse.
In addition to these corrective measures, if your problem persists,
we recommend that you switch to 18 karat gold or platinum jewelry. The
lower alloy metal content of 18 karat gold, 25 percent versus almost
42 percent, significantly reduces the problem, and the use of platinum
should eliminate it completely. You may also have 10 karat and 14 karat
jewelry plated with a layer of 18 karat gold, but keep in mind that
depending on how often you wear the jewelry, you may have to re-plate
the jewelry again at a later date, and sometimes plating does not entirely
solve the problem.
We hope this information has been of assistance to you. Please feel
free to email us with your
questions or suggestions for future topics.