silver ring leave a green mark on my finger

Why do Sterling Silver Rings Leave a Green Mark on My Finger?

If you enjoy wearing sterling silver jewellery you may have experienced a green ring mark on your finger after you have taken your ring off. It’s a common occurrence and something that many believe is down to the quality of the metal. Interestingly, it is more complex than that. Here are the real reasons behind that green finger mark and how you can banish it for good.

The real reason behind the Green mark

It all comes down to the care and maintenance of your rings, the metal composition of the ring and allergies you may have that can cause reactions with the metal used in the silver alloy.

Why do sterling silver rings leave a green mark on my finger

Ring maintenance and care:

We are all guilty of being too casual with the treatment of our jewellery. By the time we’ve finished the washing up our rings have already been submerged. When we get into bed at night or take a shower, removing our jewellery might not cross our mind. But when you start to realise that all of these factors and others can lead to that green finger stain, you might think again.

The truth is that lotions, dirt, all kinds of chemicals, hand soap and whatever else that finds itself on our hands can be detrimental to the health of the metal on the ring. Gradually, with the passage of time a green mark is likely to form on your finger as your skin oils react with the elements of the metal.

Following some easy maintenance and care tips to clean your silver jewellery is a starting point, the rest is taking off your jewellery if you are going to have any contact with liquid of any kind (even water). Your morning and evening skincare routines should be jewellery free. Put your rings safely in a canvas bag whilst you get washed and ensure your skin is dry when you put them on.

The alloy compound:

It’s important to know exactly which precious metals you are buying when you purchase a sterling silver piece because it could be the cause of the green finger mark. Sterling silver 925 means that given 1000 parts of silver, 925 are made from silver and the remaining 75 are composed of a different metal creating an alloy. Pure silver is too soft to work into jewellery hence the adding of another metal to solidify it and make it workable by jewelers.

A common combination is sterling silver and copper. It is hypoallergenic, so is kind to the skin. Another metal alloy is nickel. Nickel is a common irritant to sensitive skin. That means that there is a good chance this alloy will form a dark coloured compound on the finger when the metal begins to corrode when exposed to any moisture due to an oxidation process.

This is also common when the alloy compound is unknown – there is no stamp or hallmark to validate it. It is possible that the metals are copper and zinc without any silver at all. The result of this could be a quickly tarnished ring with its tarnish leaving a mark on your own finger.

We recommend always buying sterling silver with copper to avoid this and maintaining your ring care routine.

An allergic reaction or ring rash:

As discussed the metal combined with silver to form sterling silver can cause an allergic reaction on the skin. Some people are born with hypersensitivity to some metals with nickel being the most common allergen. A mark around the finger may form which is uncomfortable and irritating.

Others might experience dermatitis where a biological process causes a reaction of the skin when in contact with the metal in question, usually in the form of a red rash. When you add in the probability that bacteria is trapped by the ring too, it makes sense that a mark on the finger will form.


Treating a green mark on your finger can be simple. There are a range of approaches such as soap and water, rubbing alcohol and/or non-acetone nail polish remover. Do some thorough research on the best methods for you.


Understanding why the green mark is left on your finger after wearing sterling silver jewellery is half of the battle. Now you are aware of how to prevent it, you can make informed decisions on your future purchases. If in doubt, shop hypoallergenic sterling silver and cross off the chances of an allergic reaction. The rest is down to ring care and routines that support happy rings and fingers.

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