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Your complete guide to quality jewelry: How to avoid GREEN fingers once and for all

por Maria Teresa Soler de Lara junio 24, 2020 8 min read

Your complete guide to quality jewelry: How to avoid GREEN fingers once and for all

1. THE END OF GREEN FINGERS

    Have you ever bought a piece of jewelry, (a ring , a necklace), and after all the excitement of the first days, you woke up to a “green finger”? 

    Yeah, I’ve been there too - it’s a tale as old as time! You spent quite a bit of money in this new piece for your collection. You got so many compliments on your piece all day. Then, when you take it off, it leaves a green stain in its place. Ew. 

    But, do you know what why that happens and how you can avoid it?

    That stain is usually a result of a metal in the jewelry reacting with your skin — or something on your skin, such as hand lotion. When you perspire, the metals in the ring react with the acid in your sweat to form salts, which are green. These acids cause the metal to corrode on the surface ,forming a salt compound of the metal. These salts are then absorbed into the skin and the result is a green stain.

    Here’s how you can AVOID the dreaded “green finger”!

    Jewelry can be made with a variety of materials. However, some designers will make their pieces with low quality metals that, even if they cover in gold, will make your finger turn green.  The base materials that you need to avoid (Unless you actually want low quality jewelry and you do not care) are:

    1. Brass 
    2. Copper 
    3. Pewter ( a material used to make cans) 
    4. Bronze

    But, how to know which of these will lead me to a greenish circle around my neck or finger? And, how do I know what I am buying. Very simple, Ask what the material is.

    Anything that is NOT silver or gold can potentially turn your finger, skin, neck, etc green.

    2. GOLD PLATED, VERMEIL AND GOLD FILLED. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

    You will usually be told that some pieces are  Plated in Gold. When you are buying, they will tell you that the will not turn your finger green because it’s plated. Not True. 

    The plating it’s just a thin layer of metal (usually gold or silver and as thin as 2 microns up to 6 microns) over another metal, to give it a different look. But as the gold wears off with normal use, the material underneath will show.

    If this material underneath is not gold or silver, your skin will turn green.

    When buying gold plated products, ask always for vermeil, or what's the same, gold plated silver. 

    Will the gold rub off my plated piece?

    Gold plated pieces and vermeil pieces need to be taken care of. When buying Vermeil, always ask what’s the thickness of the gold layer. It should be 2 microns for it to be resistant. 6 microns will last you longer but it will be more expensive. Gold plating deposit thickness can be tested, so if possible, ask for pieces that are guaranteed if they lose the plating before 6 months. 

    At MINKARA, All of our Gold plated pieces go through an X-Ray Plating Thickness & Deposit Testing once they are finished to guarantee that you get 2 real micron of 14K Gold on your piece. All of our plated pieces are made of Sterling Silver, so they will never leave your finger green. You will always have a valuable piece as the base is solid sterling silver. Gold plating only gives color to the piece. Due to the daily use, the color may fade away or lose its initial shine. But if this happens, it´s not the end of the world! Your finger will never be green and the Good news is that you can re plate your piece unlimitedly. Check our Jewelry care section for more info ;-)

    How do I know the material underneath Jewelry piece?

    Look for a stamp. Sterling silver is stamped as 925, Fine Silver at 999or FS, Gold Filled is stamped usually as 14K GF. If the piece you are buying has any of these stamps, you are safe. 

    If the description of the Item that you’re about to buy does not say what's the material of the ring under the plating, ASK!

    And What about the gold Filled?

    Gold filled is material made up of a layer of metal (Usually Brass, but can be silver or copper too) covered by a thick layer of solid gold. The gold in this case, and unlike in the Vermeil or Gold Plated pieces, where it links to the other metal through electricity) is bonded to the base metal by heat and pressure.

    Gold filled will generally not leave your finger green as the gold is bonded by heat to the base metal and hence will not rub off. However, It can make your finger feel itchy (I can’t wear Gold Filled and like me, many other people). And it has no value at all. You will not be able to re sell Gold Filled. 

    Gold Filled can't be cast. It comes available to jewelers in in Wire, in sheets or in tubes ( Casting is a way of turning wax pieces into other three dimensional metals by melting the metal and pouring it into a mold).

    If we did this with Gold Filled, the gold and the base metal from the gold filled would be mixed together and the surface would not be only gold anymore. Due to this, you can only find Gold Filled Jewelry that's chains, or made of wire or sheet . If someone is selling you anything that’s not made of wire, chain or sheet telling you it’s gold filled, They’re lying.

    Do you own any gold plated jewelry, or would you rather have the real thing?

    If you want your piece to be gold color forever, we highly recommend to invest a little bit more in a solid gold piece. At MINKARA , because we use sustainable materials and recycled metals, if you like a vermeil piece so much that you would like to turn it into gold to make it even more durable, we’ll take the vermeil piece back and put the value towards the solid gold piece as , in the end, we tumble it and re use the silver from the original piece. That way we avoid excessive mining. Just Remember that Vermeil or Solid Gold pieces will NEVER leave your finger green. Also, Gold does not need to be expensive! 

    3. BASIC FACTS ABOUT SOLID GOLD: THE REAL DEAL

    When buying gold, we usually know the design or style that we are looking for. But when asked about the preference for precious metals, people can be a little bit lost.

    Each of the precious metals I cover below are suited for heavy jewelry such as wedding bands or engagement rings ( or anything else, really). As you read through, think of what you need from the metal : considercolor preference in regards to your skin tone, lifestyle, and budget.

    GOLD COLORS AND KARATS

    Of all the precious metals, gold is the one which offers up the widest variety. You can find it in It levels of purity, which makes it affordable to almost anyone, and mixed with other metals to create a variety of colors.

    To understand gold jewelry best, we should first look at it’s purity. Gold purity is measured in karats.

    100% pure gold , this is, gold as found in nature, is 24 karats. So gold purity is measured by how many parts per 24 are pure gold. 24K gold is basically pure gold. It is actually quite soft ( It scratches easily) and can’t withstand the daily wear and tear we put on our jewelry. Instead, it is mixed with other metals to add strength and alter its color. This resulting mixture is known as analloy.

    The most common found alloys are:
    14 Karat (14K) -This alloy has 14 parts of gold , and the rest up to 24 is other metals. Generally copper, silver and zinc. You will find it stamped as14K or 585, because it is 58.5% gold

    18 Karat ( 18K) - This alloy has 18 parts of gold , and the rest up to 24 is other metals. Generally copper, silver and zinc. You will find it stamped as18K or 750, because it is 75,5% gold

    Since alloys with a higher karat number have a higher gold content, the resulting metal color will be closer to the color of gold in nature, which is yellow.

    4. AND WHAT ABOUT COLORED GOLD??

    Depending on what the gold is mixed in the alloy, gold can be made into different colors:

    ROSE GOLD

    Rose gold alloys have the same gold content as their yellow gold counterparts. But they get their rosy color by being mixed with a larger portion of copper than silver and zinc.

    Higher karat rose gold alloys will appear more peach since they contain more gold. Lower karat rose gold alloys have a larger dose of copper, and will therefore be more pink.

    WHITE GOLD

    The main points to consider when choosing between white gold alloys are metal allergies,color preference and maintenance.

    Since gold is Yellow in nature, gold has to be mixed with other metals to get the white color. These metals are usually

    silver, zinc and nickel.Which means that, if you are allergic to nickel, you should not go for White gold, or you should choose a high karatage of it ( 18K will have more gold and less of other metals than 14K or 10K).

    There are other optionsfor white gold which include alloys of Palladium White Gold or Platinum White Gold. These two metals are 99% pure , so theyarehypoallergenic.

    White gold tends to fade to yellow, so it is given a finish layer of Rhodium through plating on top, to resemble a more White color. This will rub off in the end and you will either need to re polish the piece or re plate it.

    PALLADIUM WHITE GOLD

    In these alloys of white gold, the precious metal palladium is used as the bleaching agent to deplete the yellow color of the gold along with silver and copper.

    You can read more about palladium as its own precious metal in the section below, since it’s an excellent metal for jewelry creation in it’s own right. But, I recommend palladium white gold for another important reason: by using palladium instead of nickel in the mix, the resulting alloys arehypoallergenic.

    Palladium White Gold alloys are a warm grayish-white. While it could be rhodium plated for a bright white finish, I think they look excellent as-is.

    PLATINUM

    Platinum is a rare precious metal. It is hypoallergenic and naturally more greyish in color than white gold as it is found white in nature. Like palladium, platinum does not need rhodium plating.

    Platinum jewelry typically has a higher price point than platinum. A large part of this price difference is due to the fact that platinum alloy used contains 95% platinum whereas a white gold ring will have 58.5% (14 karat) to 75% (18 karat) gold content. Platinum is also more dense, meaning a finished ring of the same size and shape weighs more, and hence, it will be more expensive.

    Platinum has been used in precious jewelry for centuries. It polishes to an excellent shine and is very malleable, so it is great for setting stones in intricate designs. Platinum is also the most dense of the precious metals, making it a sturdy metal for intricate filigree designs. This density also lends itself to setting large diamonds since prongs made of platinum are sturdier than ones made of white gold.

    The malleability of platinum allows the metal's finish to develop a patina over time. Instead of losing metal when scratched, the surface of platinum is only displaced, causing a rich matte finish over time that can easily be re-polished or re-textured down the road without removing metal.

    Platinum is truly a heirloom quality metal. It's physical properties make it a coveted metal for jewelry designs that last for generations. While it may be the most expensive of the precious metals, platinum jewelry is worth considering for it's rarity, purity, and density.

    These are all the basic things that you need to know when buying Jewelry on the to be able to find what you’re looking for.

    Just remember:

    GOLD WILL NEVER TURN YOUR FINGER GREEN! EVEN IF IT'S 10 KARATS, GOLD CAN BE AFFORDABLE IN THE FORM OF VERY MINIMAL PIECES.

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