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Beautiful and ethical jewelry made with care in San Francisco. Using Moissanite, classic 14 karat gold and sterling silver.

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Why is my skin turning black under my rings?

Sharon Zimmerman

Hint: It's not an allergy.

A few years ago, I thought I was developing an allergy to silver and gold.  Almost overnight, my skin was turning black underneath my rings and I couldn't explain it. The answer?  Science!

Image of skin turning black underneath my silver and gold rings

Image of skin turning black underneath my silver and gold rings

At about the same time that my skin started turning colors, I had started using a mineral sunscreen* containing zinc oxide.  Zinc Oxide, in its non-nano state, is a fantastic and safe sun-blocking agent as well as a common ingredient in many cosmetics. I am pretty obsessed with my skin care (though you wouldn't believe it if you saw my hands. Ah well, such is the jeweler's life). Zinc oxide is also, as it turns out, a very mild abrasive.  Veeeery mild. But gold and silver are soft metals, so the mild abrasive in my sunscreen was actually rubbing off minuscule particles of metal from my rings and these particles transferred to my skin and appeared black.

My solution?  Well, I wasn't going to discontinue using my sunscreen nor would I stop wearing rings and the problem goes away when I, you know, wash. My. Hands. I also wait to put on rings until after I've applied the sunscreen and washed my hands. Sometimes the simple solutions are the best. And don't forget to clean your jewelry to get rid of any residual make up, soap, sunscreen, etc. Here is our Step-by-Step guide to safely cleaning and caring for your jewelry.

And now, please resume wearing all of the rings.