By Star Sosa
Every once in a while I get a customer in whose gold jewelry is making black marks on their skin or clothing. Often they are concerned that this is due to faulty manufacturing or underkarating. However this is usually not the case. The most common reason is metallic abrasion, caused by makeup on the skin or clothing. Cosmetics often contain compounds that are harder than the jewelry itself, which wear or rub off very tiny particles. Very finely divided metal always appears black rather than metallic, so it looks like jet-black dust. When this dust comes into contact with skin or clothing, it sticks, forming a black smudge.
To prevent this, try switching cosmetics. It also helps to remove rings and other jewelry while applying your makup and to clean skin areas in contact with jewelry with soap and water before putting your jewelry back on.
Another cause is actual corrosion of the metals. Gold itself does not corrode, but its primary base-metal alloys of silver or copper with do so. When you perspire, fats and fatty acids released can cause corrosion of 14k gold, especially when exposed to warmth and air. This problem may be worse in coastal areas (like Wilmington) where chlorides combine with perspiration to form a corrosive element that discolors skin.
You can mitigate this by removing your jewelry often and using an absorbent powder, free of abrasives, on skin that comes into contact with jewelry.
So in summary: remove your jewelry before using soaps, cleansers, makeup, etc. and clean your jewelry frequently. This should resolve the problem and even better, your jewelry will look its best.
One more thing, consider switching up to higher karat gold, 18k or better which would significantly reduce the problem. Or even better, Platinum or Palladium, which will solve the problem completely.