Do Sterling Silver or Stainless Steel Rings Turn Your Finger Green?

Do Sterling Silver or Stainless Steel Rings Turn Your Finger Green?

Choosing the perfect ring can be a hassle for many people. One thing that everyone dreads when it comes to picking a ring is the thought of it turning their finger green. You certainly want to avoid that, because it looks less than elegant and can indicate that your ring isn’t of the highest quality.

So can stainless steel turn your finger green?

Stainless steel rings will not turn your finger green if they are made of quality materials and are true stainless steel.

You can use this article to find out if your ring is real stainless steel- 5 Tests To See If Stainless Steel Jewelry Is Real

So can sterling silver rings turn your finger green?

Sterling silver rings can turn your finger green but this depends mostly on what the other metal that was used to make sterling silver. This will also depend on if the ring has a protective coating.

Today, we’re going to go over the two ring metals that most people are concerned about in this aspect: sterling silver and stainless steel. Does one have a higher chance of staining your finger? Do both often do so? That’s what we are here to answer today.

In the end, you can walk away making a more informed choice for buying a ring that keeps your finger looking nice and normal.

Why Do Rings Turn Your Finger Green?

A ring may turn your finger green due to something called tarnish. A ring tarnishes and gets discolored when metals oxidize and are slightly corroded. There are many reasons why this can happen, and you can prevent it from doing so!

Causes of Tarnishing in a Ring

Before we get into each metal choice for a ring and talk about whether or not they might produce this staining effect, let’s dispel some myths and make it clear why this might happen.

  • Low-Quality Metal

The first question you may be asking yourself is, “Are rings that turn your finger green always of low quality?” While this may be the case in some situations, it’s not the only reason that this happens.

Not all rings that stain your finger are fake or cheap. There are actually biological factors that play into whether or not the green color will appear on your skin.

  • Skin Reactions

No two people have the same type of skin. Some have more acids in their skin that will react with the metal in their ring, causing it to turn green. This often happens at an accelerated rate if you tend to sweat more often than others.

  • Copper and Moisture

In almost any ring that you buy, you’re actually getting a metal alloy instead of one pure material. This is because a combination of these metals will add more beneficial properties that boost the longevity of your piece.

That being said, one of the more common metals that make up this alloy is copper. Copper tends to tarnish when exposed to moisture. Again, if you tend to sweat a lot, you are exposing your ring to moisture for a prolonged amount of time, causing it to tarnish and turn your finger green.

This is also true if you often wash your hands, bathe, shower, or get in the pool with your ring on.

  • Household Substances

One reason that your ring may be turning your finger green is that you often keep it on when applying cosmetics or are handling household cleaners. There are tons of acids and other abrasive substances in these products, which will tarnish certain rings.

Sterling Silver Rings: Do They Turn Your Finger Green?

Now that you know what might cause a ring to stain your finger green, let’s dive into the properties of sterling silver and take a better look at why this phenomenon may occur.

The Makeup of Sterling Silver

Jewelry-grade sterling silver is an alloy like most other jewelry metals. Some of the materials mixed in have their own properties that may cause tarnishing and will, in turn, turn your finger green.


Obviously, this metal is given the name “sterling silver” for a reason. Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% pure silver. This is why this jewelry-grade metal is usually called “925 sterling silver.”

Silver is not what makes your ring tarnish and discolor your finger. It does not react with moisture or oxygen like other metals, keeping its color bright and shiny. However, pure silver is too soft to be made into rings and other pieces, so other materials must be mixed in.


The rest of the sterling silver alloy is mostly made up of copper. If you recall, copper is a material that tarnishes quite easily when exposed to moisture. Since there is a sizable portion of copper in your average sterling silver jewelry, you can expect that your ring will tarnish if not taken care of properly.


There are trace amounts of other metals in sterling silver, but it really comes down to copper when worrying about the discoloration and tarnish.

The Verdict

Yes, sterling silver rings can cause your finger to turn green. However, this does not indicate that this ring metal is of low quality. Many times, sterling silver tarnishes and stains your finger because it has not been cared for correctly.

How to Avoid Tarnish on a Sterling Silver Ring

If you want to prevent your fingers from turning green when you wear a sterling silver ring, you must learn how to care for it. This metal can be delicate in this aspect, so it’s important to heed care instructions.

Some basic rules that you should follow are as follows:

  • Do not wear your ring in the pool, the shower, or the bathtub. The copper in your ring will tarnish and turn your finger green if you expose it to too much moisture. The best advice that you can follow is to take it off for the time being and keep it in a cool, dry place.
  • Take the ring off when you wash your hands. The same rules when showering, bathing, and swimming apply when washing your hands. We realize that this can be tedious, but it keeps your sterling silver ring looking shiny and new!
  • Store your ring in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight. Too much exposure to impure air and heat will also cause your ring to tarnish. It is recommended that you keep your ring in a proper jewelry box or in a soft pouch away from other jewelry.

If you would like to know more about the proper care and storage of sterling silver jewelry, visit the link here.

Cleaning a Tarnished Sterling Silver Ring

If you have already been unfortunate enough to stain your finger and tarnish your sterling silver ring, don’t worry too much. There are simple and affordable ways to have it cleaned so your finger can return to its normal color soon.

  • Polish it. If your ring has a small amount of tarnish present, you can simply polish it with a soft, clean microfiber cloth. There are also silver cloths available for purchase, but if you can’t justify buying one, microfiber is your best bet. Gently polish back and forth with the grain, avoiding rubbing in circles. This should leave your ring sparkling again.
  • Get your ring professionally cleaned. If you don’t want to clean the ring yourself for fear of making the issue worse, you can take your ring to a professional jewelry cleaner and have them polish it up.

Stainless Steel Rings: Do They Turn Your Finger Green?

If you’re a low maintenance type of person who really dreads all of the care instructions you need to follow when wearing a sterling silver ring, you may be looking for a better solution. Different metals have different properties when it comes to tarnishing. Could stainless steel be the best choice for you? Let’s talk about that.

The Makeup of Stainless Steel

Jewelry-grade stainless steel is made up of four main components. We’ll talk about each and help you get a better picture of what maintenance you may be dealing with.


Steel is obviously one of the main components of this alloy, as it says so right in the name. Pure steel can eventually rust with too much exposure to moisture or air, but the other metals involved in stainless steel prevent this from happening.


Carbon is one of the building blocks of life, and its properties differ depending on what it’s added to. When carbon and steel mix, they can still rust, though not quite easily.


The stainless steel that is used for jewelry must contain at least 12% chromium, which will ultimately protect the steel from rusting or tarnishing. The chromium provides a barrier between this moisture and air to keep the surface underneath tarnish and rust-free.


Nickel is another component of stainless steel that is also found in many other jewelry-grade metals. It adds durability to your ring. It actually resists tarnishing and can boost a ring’s longevity for that reason!

The Verdict

No, stainless steel rings do not tarnish and turn your finger green. If you were looking for a ring metal that you can wear and nearly forget about, stainless steel is a great option for you!

However, this does not mean that your stainless steel jewelry will never need proper care and cleaning. While you will worry less about your finger turning green, any high-quality ring needs the occasional polishing.

How to Care for a Stainless Steel Ring

Although stainless steel rings do not tarnish, they can still be scratched and cause cosmetic damage to your piece. They also get dirty just like any other object, and they need to be cleaned. Storing your ring properly will keep it clean and looking perfect for a longer amount of time.

Learn about proper jewelry care and you’ll be cherishing your stainless steel ring for years to come.

Storing Your Stainless Steel Ring

Because your ring can still be scratched and marred cosmetically, you should store it in a way that avoids abrasion at all costs.

  • Keep your stainless steel ring away from other jewelry. Avoiding scratches means that you shouldn’t allow your ring to brush against other jewelry that you have in your jewelry box or bag. Make a special spot for it away from the other pieces.
  • Never leave your ring out around other objects. Again, scratching can be a problem with any other object, especially if it’s made of a stronger metal.
  • Avoid bumping your ring against other rings, walls, and furniture as much as possible. This also applies to your work environment. You should probably leave your ring at home or in a safe place while you work if you do any manual labor throughout the day.
  • Make sure that the bag or box that you keep the ring in isn’t made of any abrasive material. It should be placed in/on something like a soft microfiber to avoid minor scratches.

Cleaning Your Stainless Steel Ring

Your ring will eventually get dirty due to any oil on your hands, products like lotion, or dirt. You should clean it regularly. You can polish your ring often, but save the time-consuming cleaning for more noticeable grime.


To polish the ring, simply use a non-abrasive, soft cloth and polish with the grain, similar to how you would with sterling silver. Remember, no circular motions.


When your stainless steel ring gets dirty and you feel that it should be thoroughly cleaned, follow a few simple steps to wash off all the grime without leaving scratches on the band.

  • Pour warm water into a small bowl of your choosing, and add mild dish soap after. (You don’t need much, just enough to get the job done.)
  • Once your water is soapy, take a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth and dip a corner of it into the water. Wring out excess water until the cloth is only damp.
  • Rub the damp cloth over your ring, gently wiping until any noticeable dirt is cleaned off of it. Be sure to rub on the polish lines, with the grain.
  • Clean the remaining soap off with another cloth dipped in clean water.
  • Gently but thoroughly dry the ring.

Once the ring is clean, you can polish it for extra shine. This step is optional, but recommended!

If you would like to use toothpaste to clean any stubborn spots on your stainless steel ring, be careful. You can’t use just any type of toothpaste! Yours should be silica-free, and it should not have any teeth whitening properties. These substances are abrasive and can only scratch the ring more.

In these stubborn spots, use only a cloth to clean the ring. Any toothbrush, even something with soft bristles, can scratch your jewelry.

Caring for Scratched Stainless Steel

If you already have a stainless steel ring and it has suffered damage due to scratching, all hope isn’t lost. You have options when it comes to buffing these scratches out.

Some online guides may give you some do-it-yourself solutions for this, but we don’t recommend them. They may work, but if you make a mistake, you could cause further damage.

Instead, we highly suggest taking your stainless steel ring to a professional jeweler. This professional will know how best to tackle the problem and buff out scratches if the damage is minimal. Keep in mind that deep, extensive scratching may not be possible to buff out. Manage your expectations.

Sterling Silver v. Stainless Steel: Which Wins?

When it comes to tarnishing and turning your finger green, sterling silver rings are the clear losers. In order to avoid this, you have to care for your ring extensively and remember to do maintenance as often as possible.

 If you can handle this, then sterling silver can be a great metal to use in your piece! If not, stainless steel comes out on top.

Where to Buy Stainless Steel Rings

Stainless steel will not tarnish and turn your finger green as long as the materials are of high quality and it’s made with at least 12% chromium. Not all rings are up to such standards, so be careful where you buy your jewelry. Never trust any company that seems illegitimate or has no reviews.

If you’re looking for reputable places to buy stainless steel rings, you have come to the right place! When you buy from these sellers, it’s unlikely that your finger will suffer staining any time soon.

  • Not all Etsy shops are reputable, but there are a plethora that keep high standards and get rave reviews as a result. Look for highly reviewed shops and take a look at the details to be sure that you’re getting high-quality stainless steel.
  • Jewelry retailers. When you buy from big-name retailers, you may find yourself spending more money. However, they are often reputable places to get rings from that won’t discolor your finger.
  • Think Engraved. This company has much to offer and plenty of reviews to back up the quality of their rings. Most rings you’ll choose from can be customized and engraved with a special message of your choosing.

In the end, the ring that’s right for you comes down to what you are willing to spend, how much care you’re willing to give, and whether or not you want to risk turning your finger green.

More articles you will love

Caring for Your Sterling Silver ring (tips and tricks)

Can You Wear Sterling Silver Rings All the Time?

Can You Engrave Stainless Steel Rings? ( with methods )

Can the Groom See His Ring Before the Wedding?

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