Inexpensive jewelry or "fashion" jewelry is often known for turning the skin green. However, your sterling silver ring or even your gold jewelry could also turn your skin green. It doesn't mean you have to give up wearing jewelry. The first thing to do is understand why it happens and then go from there to solve the problem in a way that meets your needs and your budget.
Why does my jewelry turn my skin green?
There are a couple of reasons your jewelry may turn your skin green. Most commonly it is because it has been mixed with copper and there is a great deal of copper still left on the surface of the piece. When it comes in contact with your skin chemical reactions begin to occur and the result is a greenish color left behind on your skin. This chemical reaction is more likely to occur when your jewelry gets wet or when you sweat.
While this is the most common reason that your jewelry turns your skin green, it could also be that you have a high level of acid that interacts with the alloys that are in your jewelry. Usually it's copper, but there could be other things you react with if you have a high acid level in your body. Don't worry though, even if you do have a high level of acid in your body or you are one who slowly eats through your jewelry there are things you can do to take your jewelry back and to protect yourself.
Light acid soak.
The first thing you should try is a light acid soak. If there is a lot of copper left on the surface of the ring this will clear it away and may be enough to solve the problem. Try a solution of 1 part ammonia to 1 part water or if that bothers you then use 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. Soak your jewelry in it for 24 hours and then rinse well. You may want to use a bit of jewelry cleaner and a soft bristled tooth brush to clean it well after it's soak. This may be enough to solve your problem forever, but if it isn't consider the following options.
Clear finger nail polish.
Coat the parts of your jewelry that come in contact with your skin with clear finger nail polish. This will keep your skin from the metal and therefore prevent any chemical reactions. If you wear the piece every day then you will want to coat it once a week or once every other week to keep that layer strong. If you only wear it every now and again then you only need to coat it ever now and then.
It is a good idea to coat the area with anti-perspirant to prevent sweating. Choose a clear option and coat that area of your body. This can make a big difference, but you may find coating your finger a bit of a pain in order to wear your ring!
Take it off when it may get wet.
If you are at the pool, in the shower, or even washing your hands you are increasing the chance that your jewelry will have a chemical reaction with the elements around it and your skin. It's best if you take your jewelry off if you want to make sure that you aren't going to get discoloration of the skin.
Keep your diet less acidic.
When you have a high level of acid in your diet you increase your body's acidity levels. You may want to consider lowering the acid in your diet to help with the problem. Some things to consider are limiting garlic and acidic fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes.
Finger nail polish and avoiding moisture may work for a favorite piece that you only wear every now and again or on special occasions, but for that piece you wear everyday it may become tiresome. In this case it is best to go for a permanent fix or at least long term fix (depending on the acidity of your body). Take the piece to your jeweler or a local jeweler and ask them what they might be able to do to help. In many cases they can add a clear protective coating that will last for some time or they may be able to electroplate the piece with gold, silver, or another metal that won't cause discoloration issues. This is more expensive, but it will work for a long time and is best for a piece you wear often.
Unfortunately there is a lot of jewelry out there that can cause discoloration or greening of the skin. On the other hand, there is something you can do about it. Try the light acid soak first. It might be enough to solve the problem forever and in many cases it works easy, fast, and then you are done. If that doesn't work then consider coating it with clear finger nail polish, keeping it dry with anti-perspirant and by taking them off when you are going to get them wet, and limiting the acid in your diet. Finally, if you want a long term solution talk to your jeweler. It will cost you more, but will be worth it for those pieces you wear every day.