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  • Writer's pictureKatrine Høilund Holmgaard

Here's everything you need to know about copper

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Here's everything you need to know about copper

What is copper in jewelry?

Copper is a reddish-brown metal that has been used for centuries in jewelry-making due to its malleability, durability, and relative abundance. Copper is often used in jewelry as an alloy, meaning it is mixed with other metals to enhance its properties. For example, copper is commonly alloyed with zinc to create brass, or with silver to create sterling silver. Copper itself is sometimes used in jewelry as well, particularly in bohemian or rustic styles where the metal's natural color and texture are emphasized.

However, it is important to note that copper can react with the skin, causing some people to experience discoloration or irritation. To mitigate this, copper jewelry is often coated with a protective layer of clear lacquer or another metal, such as silver or gold.

Is copper good to make jewelry from?

Yes, copper is a great material for making jewelry due to its many desirable properties. For one, copper is very malleable, which means that it can be easily shaped and molded into various forms, making it perfect for creating intricate designs and patterns. Additionally, copper is relatively inexpensive compared to other metals used in jewelry making, which makes it an attractive choice for artisans and customers alike.

Copper is also durable and resistant to corrosion, meaning that it will not easily tarnish or rust over time, as long as it is properly cared for. However, it's important to note that some people may be sensitive or allergic to copper, and may experience skin discoloration or irritation after wearing copper jewelry for prolonged periods. To prevent this, copper jewelry can be coated with a layer of clear lacquer or another metal, such as silver or gold. Overall, copper is a versatile and affordable material that can be used to create beautiful and unique pieces of jewelry.

What is the difference between gold-plated copper vs. not gold-plated?

The main difference between gold-plated copper and non-gold-plated copper is the presence of a thin layer of gold on the surface of the metal. Gold plating involves depositing a layer of gold onto a base metal, such as copper, through a process called electroplating. This results in a piece of jewelry that has the appearance of solid gold but is made of a less expensive metal.

Gold-plated copper jewelry has several advantages over non-gold-plated copper. For one, it has a more luxurious and expensive appearance, making it a great option for those who want to achieve the look of solid gold without the high price tag. Additionally, gold plating provides a layer of protection against tarnishing, which can help keep the jewelry looking bright and shiny for longer.

However, there are also some downsides to gold-plated copper jewelry. Over time, the gold plating can wear off, revealing the copper underneath. This can happen more quickly if the jewelry is exposed to water, sweat, or other harsh conditions. Additionally, some people may have an allergic reaction to nickel or other metals that are sometimes used in gold plating.

Non-gold-plated copper jewelry has a more rustic and natural appearance, which can be appealing to those who prefer a bohemian or earthy style. It is also typically less expensive than gold-plated copper jewelry. However, non-gold-plated copper is more prone to tarnishing and may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance to keep it looking its best.

Does 18-karat gold-plated copper last longer than normal gold-plated copper?

The durability of 18-karat gold-plated copper versus normal gold-plated copper depends on several factors, including the thickness of the gold plating, the quality of the plating process, and how the jewelry is cared for. However, in general, 18-karat gold-plated copper is likely to last longer than normal gold-plated copper due to the higher purity of the gold used in the plating.

18-karat gold is made up of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals, while normal gold plating may be a lower karat or use less pure gold in the plating process. This higher gold content can make the plating thicker and more resistant to wear and tear, which can help the jewelry last longer. Additionally, the higher quality of gold used in 18-karat plating can help reduce the risk of tarnishing or discoloration.

However, it's important to note that even with 18-karat gold plating, the gold layer can still wear off over time with regular use and exposure to sweat, water, and other harsh conditions. To extend the life of 18-karat gold-plated copper jewelry, it's important to care for it properly by avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals, storing it in a dry place, and gently cleaning it with a soft cloth and mild cleaning solution when needed.

How do I maintain copper jewelry?

Copper jewelry can develop a natural patina over time, which is a thin layer of tarnish that forms on the surface of the metal. While some people prefer the look of patinated copper, others prefer to keep their copper jewelry looking shiny and bright. Here are some tips for maintaining and cleaning copper jewelry:

  1. Store your copper jewelry in a dry place, away from direct sunlight and humidity. This will help prevent the metal from tarnishing.

  2. Clean your copper jewelry regularly using a soft cloth and a gentle cleaning solution. You can make your cleaning solution by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water, or you can purchase a copper-specific cleaner.

  3. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives on your copper jewelry, as these can scratch or damage the metal.

  4. If your copper jewelry has a protective coating, be sure to handle it with care to avoid scratching or damaging the coating.

  5. If your copper jewelry does develop a patina, you can remove it using a mixture of salt and lemon juice. Rub the mixture onto the surface of the metal, then rinse it off with water and dry the jewelry thoroughly.

  6. If your copper jewelry has gemstones or other decorative elements, be sure to follow the specific care instructions for those materials as well.

By following these tips, you can help keep your copper jewelry looking beautiful and shiny for years to come.

How do I clean copper jewelry?

Cleaning copper jewelry is relatively easy, and there are several methods you can use to remove dirt, grime, and tarnish from the surface of the metal. Here are some common ways to clean copper jewelry:

  1. Vinegar and salt: Mix equal parts white vinegar and salt to create a paste. Apply the paste to the copper jewelry and rub gently with a soft cloth. Rinse the jewelry with warm water and dry it thoroughly.

  2. Lemon juice and baking soda: Mix lemon juice and baking soda to create a paste. Apply the paste to the copper jewelry and rub gently with a soft cloth. Rinse the jewelry with warm water and dry it thoroughly.

  3. Commercial copper cleaner: Purchase a commercial copper cleaner and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.

  4. Polish: Use copper polish to shine and protect the metal. Apply a small amount of polish to a soft cloth and rub gently onto the surface of the copper jewelry. Buff the jewelry with a clean, dry cloth.

It's important to note that while these methods can be effective at cleaning copper jewelry, they may not be suitable for all types of copper or copper-plated jewelry. Always check the care instructions for your specific piece of jewelry before attempting to clean it. Additionally, be sure to handle your copper jewelry with care to avoid scratching or damaging the metal.


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