Reader Question / Question For You

From reader MeganRJ:

I’m curious about the ring you are wearing in this video. Did you replace your wedding ring?

Astute observation! And yes, sort of…but not by choice. My much-loved pawn-shop engagement ring developed two issues, and if any of you could help me with either one, I would be very grateful:

1) It developed sort of tarnishy-looking black spots around one of the diamonds (the one on the left, pictured above). They don’t come off with jewelry cleaner, and have gotten worse over time. My suspicion is that the three diamonds were added onto the ring – not originally part of it – and that some other metal (apparently one that turns black over time) was used to affix them.

2) I became allergic to it. I think. My skin turned red, dry, and blistery wherever the ring touched it…but I’m not sure an allergy makes sense, because I’ve been fine with it up until now, and I can still wear all my other yellow gold jewelry.

So pending further investigation I’ve retired my actual engagement ring in favor of a gorgeous rose gold and pink amethyst ring Kendrick bought me for my birthday two years ago, and which I ordinarily wear on the other hand.

Any ideas for how I can get this thing back into circulation?

  • I just went through the same thing with the skin underneath the ring getting dry, red and blistery. It's actually very common. As you wash your hands and go about your daily life while wearing the ring soap scum and other dirt gets trapped underneath it, irritating your finger. I would imgaine especially with the type of ring you have (with the braided style – lots of nooks and crannies for dirt to get trapped) there's good potential for this to happen. I would take it to a jeweler to have it professionally cleaned, let your finger heal and then you can start wearing it again. There's also ways you can disinfect it at home (I have read a vinegar and peroxide solution works). If you google “wedding ring dermatitis” some stuff should come up.

    • I second this comment! I have the same problem with my wedding ring, and I've found that it stems from getting caustic hand-cleaner underneath and unable to rinse it away well enough. It just sits under my (rather wide) ring and eats away at my skin! Then it takes a while to undo the damage.

  • I think you can do a couple things–you might be able to get the ring plated/replated in a metal that will cover and hopefully fix the reaction you're having. If that doesn't work, you could ask someone to recreate the original from scratch so you'd know it was made with a solid metal.

  • miu820

    i have that problem with one of my rings too, i just make sure i take it off before washing my hands and use aquaphor under it twice a day.

  • jordanreid

    Thank you guys for the suggestions! I'm going to try boiling it/getting it professionally cleaned, but may end up just getting a replica made to deal with the black spots problem.

  • morganmoon

    is also possible that you have an allergy to metal alloys
    i know that im allergic to nickel, which is found in lots of cheap jewelry, (sorry! not trying to call your e. ring cheap, but its the most likely culprit if it is an allergy) — the allergic reaction doesnt have to show up right away — sometimes it can take YEARS and just suddenly… BAM, body says no. if youve ever had 'itchy' ears because of earrings, this would help to confirm.
    it blows because some of my most fun/ gifted jewels from when i was younger have nickel in them and i cant wear them 24/7, but they dont have to be retired forever — like the people down below saying, your skin will heal (but from personal experience, the spot of skin that had the rash will stay 'primed' to metal — ALL metal — for a while).

    • jordanreid

      ha, no worries about calling my engagement ring cheap – it cost very little (we bought it together) and i love it madly mostly because when we got it we cared about nothing at all except marrying each other…and certainly didn't care about spending money we didn't have on a rock. but i think you may be right about the nickel thing, because i have experienced sensitivity to inexpensive earrings.

      • Morgan Mcmorran

        haha — i was referring more to the emotional meaning of 'cheap' rather than the monetary 'cheap'; as in, originally, i was not trying to imply that your ring — even if it or something that it happened to facilitate — gave you a rash, was thus less meaningful or degraded in some way :/
        i wore a twistee tie from my fiance when it was crafted as a 'promise' on a whim (although its now represented by something a little more durable!)


        • jordanreid

          twistee ties! now THAT is romantic 🙂 i am all for a proposal with a make-do ring and then a follow-up purchase made together.