Why Does My Silver Ring Turn My Finger Black?

Even expensive silver jewelry can react with your skin.

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Everybody loves a little bling. So, you proudly wear the silver ring that was a fabulous gift, a treasured heirloom, a swap meet find or a fine treat you bought for yourself. And then your finger turns black. Don't panic. Silver rings tarnish. That shadow on your finger doesn't mean the ring is fake. A tarnished silver ring leaving a mark on your finger doesn't have to be a blight on your bliss.


Silver is pretty inert, which means it doesn't react to much around it. But, it does react to chemicals in the air, which is why it tarnishes. Sometimes this tarnish can rub off on your skin, turning your finger black. Does it mean your ring is cheap? No way. Even the best silver -- unless it's coated with rhodium -- can tarnish. Just look at all those butlers in old movies -- they spend all day polishing silver and you know that stuff wasn't cheap.

Other Metals

Even good silver jewelry is only 92.5 percent pure silver. Jewelers add other metals, like copper and nickel, to silver rings to help them hold their shape and make them stronger. Some people have allergic reactions to copper or nickel, and that can turn your finger any color, from green to black. The less expensive your ring was, the less pure silver is probably in it, which is why cheaper jewelry causes this reaction more often.

Chemical Reactions

Silver reacts with acids. If you've been eating enough acidic foods that your sweat is slightly acid, you might suddenly find the skin under your silver ring turning black. According to jewel expert Gemologist Sam, on his website GemologistSam.com, all sorts of things that your ring comes into contact with can also cause it to oxidize. This includes your natural skin oils, air pollution, ammonia, chlorinated water and your usual hair spray and perfume. Some foods, such as anything salty, eggs, onions and mayonnaise, can also tarnish your silver ring.


Polish the inside of your silver ring every night and store it in a tarnish-resistant bag. Coat the inside of the ring with clear nail polish. Let it dry completely before wearing the ring. Avoid rubber bands and wool fabrics, because these will also tarnish silver. Take your ring off when you clean, because while ammonia will tarnish it; so will the latex gloves you might wear to protect it.

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