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  • Writer's pictureKatrine Høilund Holmgaard

Here's everything you need to know about brass

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Here's everything you need to know about brass

What is brass?

Brass is a metal alloy made primarily of copper and zinc. The exact proportions of copper and zinc in brass can vary, which produces a range of different brass alloys with different properties.


Brass is known for its bright gold-like appearance and its malleability, which makes it easy to shape into various forms. It is a relatively low-cost alternative to precious metals such as gold and silver, which makes it a popular material in jewelry-making, musical instruments, and decorative objects.


In addition to its aesthetic appeal, brass has several desirable physical properties, including its corrosion resistance, durability, and high thermal conductivity. These properties make it useful in a wide range of applications, from plumbing fixtures and electrical components to ammunition and door hardware.


Overall, brass is a versatile metal that is prized for its aesthetic and physical properties, as well as its affordability.



Is brass good to make jewelry from?

Brass is a popular material for making jewelry due to its affordability, malleability, and durability. It is an alloy made of copper and zinc and has a warm, yellow color that can resemble gold. Brass can also be polished to a high shine, giving it a luxurious appearance.


However, brass does have some drawbacks as a jewelry material. Brass jewelry can tarnish over time, which may require regular cleaning and maintenance.


Overall, brass can be a good material for making jewelry if you're looking for an affordable and durable option, but you should also consider the maintenance required to keep the jewelry looking its best.



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

The main difference between gold-plated brass and non-gold-plated brass is the presence of a layer of gold on the surface of the jewelry.


Gold-plated brass jewelry is made by coating a thin layer of gold over a base of brass using a process called electroplating. This creates a jewelry piece that has the appearance of solid gold, but at a more affordable price point. The gold layer can vary in thickness, but it is typically around 0.5 microns or less. Gold-plated brass jewelry can look beautiful and may last a long time with proper care, but the gold layer can eventually wear off, revealing the brass base underneath.


Non-gold plated brass jewelry, on the other hand, does not have a layer of gold over the surface. Instead, it has the naturally warm, yellow color of the brass. Non-gold-plated brass jewelry can have a matte or polished finish and is usually less expensive than gold-plated brass. However, non-gold plated brass can tarnish over time, which may require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep the jewelry looking its best.


In summary, the difference between gold-plated brass and non-gold-plated brass is the presence of a layer of gold over the surface. Gold-plated brass has a thin layer of gold electroplated over a base of brass, while non-gold-plated brass has the natural color of brass without any added layers.



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

The durability and longevity of 18-karat gold-plated brass jewelry versus regular gold-plated brass jewelry depends on several factors, including the thickness and quality of the gold layer, the wear and tear the jewelry is subjected to, and how well the jewelry is cared for.


Generally speaking, 18-karat gold-plated brass jewelry may last longer than regular gold-plated brass jewelry due to its higher gold content. 18-karat gold is 75% pure gold, whereas regular gold plating can range from 10 to 24 karats, with lower gold content.


However, it's important to note that the thickness of the gold layer also plays a significant role in the longevity of the plating. A thicker gold layer will wear better and last longer than a thinner layer. Additionally, proper care and maintenance can extend the life of the gold plating, regardless of the karat or gold content. This includes avoiding exposure to moisture and harsh chemicals, storing the jewelry properly, and cleaning it regularly with a soft cloth.


In summary, 18-karat gold-plated brass jewelry may have a longer lifespan than regular gold-plated brass jewelry due to the higher gold content, but the thickness of the gold layer and proper care and maintenance are also important factors to consider.


How do I maintain brass jewelry?

Brass jewelry can tarnish over time due to exposure to air, moisture, and oils from your skin. To keep your brass jewelry looking its best, here are some maintenance tips:

  1. Clean it regularly: Use a soft cloth to wipe your brass jewelry clean after each wear. You can also use a jewelry cleaning solution that is specifically formulated for brass.

  2. Avoid exposing it to water: Remove your brass jewelry before swimming or showering, as exposure to water can accelerate tarnishing.

  3. Store it properly: Keep your brass jewelry in a dry, airtight container or jewelry box when you're not wearing it. This will help to prevent tarnishing.

  4. Avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals: Avoid exposing your brass jewelry to harsh chemicals, such as bleach, ammonia, or sulfur, as they can cause discoloration or damage.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can keep your brass jewelry looking beautiful and prevent tarnishing.


How do I clean brass jewelry?

Over time, brass jewelry can develop a patina or tarnish, which can dull its shine and make it look less attractive. Here are some steps you can follow to clean your brass jewelry and restore its shine:

  1. Create a cleaning solution: Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a bowl. You can also add a pinch of salt to the solution to help remove any stubborn tarnish.

  2. Soak the jewelry: Place the brass jewelry in the solution and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.

  3. Scrub the jewelry: Remove the jewelry from the solution and use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a microfiber cloth to gently scrub away any remaining tarnish or dirt.

  4. Rinse and dry: Rinse the jewelry thoroughly with clean water and dry it with a soft cloth.

  5. Polish (optional): If you want to restore the shine of your brass jewelry, you can polish it with a brass-specific polish or a specialized polishing cloth. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product carefully.


It's important to note that brass is a soft metal, so be careful not to scrub too hard or use any abrasive materials, as this can scratch the surface. Additionally, avoid using harsh chemicals or commercial cleaners, as these can damage the metal.





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