I ran into a great site, Oak City Gallery
. It's the website of artisan jeweler Julie Teeple and she's carved (literally) a niche in the metal clay jewelry market. One thing in particular that I wanted to share was her Q/A about copper. As you know, copper does tend to tarnish and it does tend to turn (some people's) skin green with prolonged contact. I do not coat my copper, I leave that to the customer. It's a personal preference. I have found that using lacquers take away from the natural patina and shine that I work so hard to get. If my customers want to coat the inside of their ring bands with clear nail polish, that's their decision, but I've found that coating the jewelry itself it just tarnishes under the clear coat, and looks dull and it eventually flakes off. With wire weaving, the clear coat can settle in the intricate pattern and bubble. It ends up taking away from the beauty of the piece, and when it starts to wear off those flakes can get stuck in the weave. That's why I don't coat my copper. HOWEVER, I'd love to try the "Renaissance Wax" that she speaks of in the article. This stuff seems like it would be awesome. Anyone have experience using "Renaissance Wax" please comment below.
From Oak City Gallery:
IS COPPER BAD FOR YOU?
Copper is antimicrobial and doesn't harm the skin in any way. What's "antimicrobial"? An antimicrobial is a substance that kills or inhibits the growth of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoan's, as well as destroying viruses. Copper is also an antibacterial as well as an antifungal agent and used in the treatment of skin disease and wounds today as it was thousands of years ago. Of course thousands of years ago they didn't know all of this; they simply used it because it helped. Copper is also used in UD's for birth control because of its factors.
Copper is a trace element needed for healthy growth and function of bones, collagen, the brain, the heart, the skin and immune system. Copper is contained throughout our bodies and in our hair.
Fabrics have been impregnated with copper and used in everyday applications.
Bandages, dermal wound products and gauze. Used in bedding, gowns, uniforms, towels, catheters, gloves, curtains and masks.
Used by the military and police services worldwide in their uniforms.
Used in underwear, socks, and other items which need protection against degradation by fungus and bacteria and thus reducing odor, stains, and deterioration which is caused by fungi and bacteria.
Copper is used in many cosmetic products, as well as in cosmetic applications.
Copper bracelets have been worn for hundreds of years in the belief of reducing or helping Arthritic and Rheumatic diseases. People also look to copper for its healing properties in improving the circulation of blood, increasing energy, detoxification, reducing inflammation, stabilizing metabolism and improving oxygen use. While research information I checked numerous medical sites and found that copper is used extensively for the aforementioned.
Understand that I lay no claim to being an expert on the healing properties of copper. I've simply gathered a few reverent facts about copper to help you feel at ease with wearing copper jewelry.
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COPPER (AND OTHER METAL) JEWELRY TURNING YOUR SKIN GREEN
Let's review some basic information about copper or any other metal turning your skin green.
If it hasn't happened to you yet, sooner or later a piece of jewelry that you may wear will turn your skin either greenish or some other unsightly color. The worst jewelry that stains your skin is plated jewelry, especially gold plated. It's because base metal (mostly the inexpensive kind) is plated with gold or silver, or copper. The plating will eventually wear off the metal; it's the metal which begins to oxidize. The better or thicker the plating the more time it will take to wear off.
So why can or does your skin turn green while wearing copper? It's known as the oxidation reaction. The copper reacts with oxygen in the air, your sweat and skin oils creating a green layer of copper carbonate on your skin. Relax; it shouldn't be anything to be concerned about, it just looks terrible. Most likely you're not allergic to the copper, very few people are. Simply keep your copper clean and dry and remove any oil or sweat which may be on your jewelry. It's as simple as that.
If your skin does turn color from jewelry, you may notice it more on different parts of your body. Rings which are worn close to the skin are the worst because of no air circulation between your finger and the ring. Your finger sweats and produces oils which are trapped between your finger and the ring.
Bracelets have air circulation between your wrist and the bracelet thus doesn't seem to produce as much discoloration of your skin. If you wear a copper bracelet or cuff that is tight against the skin, then most likely you'll have discoloration much like a ring.
Pendants worn over your clothes won't discolor because they aren't in contact with your sweat or skin oils. Pendants worn against the skin tend to move causing air circulation between the pendant and your skin. Unless you're a sweaty and oily person and jewelry tends to stick to your skin, you shouldn't have any discoloration.
There are plenty of people who wear copper pendants, chains, or bracelets almost every day and everywhere including the shower and seldom take their copper jewelry off. It doesn't turn their skin colors, why? Simply put it's because they are keeping the jewelry clean by showering in it; cleaning off any oxidation caused by your body.
Keeping your jewelry clean will help in the prevention of oxidation turning your skin green. Take off your copper jewelry every night. Wipe your jewelry with a clean soft cloth when you remove it. Doing this will clean any body oils or sweat off your jewelry. The cleaner you keep your copper jewelry the less likely your skin will discolor from oxidation.
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PREVENTING YOUR COPPER FROM TURING YOUR SKIN GREEN
There are several recommendations on "coating" copper jewelry to prevent skin discoloration. Here's my opinion on some of them.
Applying a thin coat of clear nail polish to your jewelry
Don't do this; it looks terrible, it's time consuming, and the nail polish will flake off making your jewelry look cheap. Over time applying layers of nail polish over existing flaking polish will look and feel so bad you won't want to wear your jewelry any longer! If you must, this method does work, for a while.
Spray your jewelry with a clear sealer
I don't recommend this either, it's just like applying clear nail polish to your jewelry. This method does work if you choose to use it.
Apply a coating of car or jewelry wax to the jewelry piece
This works very well. It also prevents your copper from tarnishing and keeps your copper jewelry nice and shinny. Eventually it will wear off (not flake off) depending on how often you wear your copper jewelry. Simply reapply the wax, let dry then buff your jewelry with a soft cloth.
Wipe your jewelry piece with a soft cloth before you put it on or after you take it off
Yes! This is the cheapest, easiest way of keeping your copper jewelry clean and to protect them from oxidation. Oxidation is what turns your skin colors. Keep your copper jewelry clean, it's as simple as that! Treat your copper jewelry as you would your expensive pieces of jewelry; wipe it with a clean soft cloth before putting it on or after taking it off. This helps remove the sweat and oils from your skin which causes oxidation. Keeping your copper jewelry clean will prevent it from turning your skin colors.
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CLEANING YOUR COPPER JEWELRY
(Leah Hoffman says: I do not recommend cleaning copper jewelry that is patina'ed in this way. Those dark crevices are what adds visual texture to the pieces, and by using lemon juice or vinegar you may completely change the appearance of the piece. I keep my patina'ed copper jewelry clean by using a polishing square or buff/polishing block, or rubbing with a jewelry cleaning cloth.)
Wet your copper jewelry piece with lemon juice, sprinkle with a bit of table salt then rub with either a soft cloth or your fingers until tarnish is gone. Rinse with water then dry thoroughly. To maintain a beautiful finish and protective coating after cleaning, you can apply a thin coat of car wax, let dry then buff with a soft cloth. The car wax is an excellent method of avoiding tarnish on silver and bronze as well.
Fill a small glass or plastic (don't use metal) cup with white vinegar, place your copper jewelry into the glass of vinegar making sure the vinegar covers the jewelry. You can add a sprinkle of salt to the vinegar if you'd like. Walk away for several minutes. After several minutes remove your copper jewelry from the cup, rinse with cold water, dry your jewelry with a soft cloth. You may then apply a thin coat of car wax, let dry then buff with a soft cloth.
Cheap but messy method
This gets a bit messy but it works fairly well. Use a dab of ketchup on an old soft toothbrush. Apply to your copper jewelry and rub lightly with the toothbrush. Rinse clean and dry with a soft cloth. The acid in the ketchup dissolves the tarnish. After cleaning you may apply a thin coat of car wax, let dry then buff with a soft cloth.
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Using a commercial jewelry polishing cloth is a good way to keep your copper jewelry shinny and clean. If your copper jewelry has an added patina, avoid using the commercial polishing cloth as it may eventually rub the patina off the copper depending on how the patina was originally applied.
Commercial copper cleaner especially the powder types, aren't made for copper jewelry and may be abrasive leading to scratches in your jewelry; we suggest you avoid commercial copper cleaners unless it's made especially for copper jewelry.
IS YOUR COPPER JEWELRY PROTECTED OR COATED TO AVOID SKIN DISCOLORATION?
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- See more at: http://www.oakcitygallery.com/copper-jewelry-facts.html#sthash.pkU2fN9s.dpuf
Yes, absolutely! Each of our copper jewelry pieces is specially coated with a specialized protective wax to prevent oxidation and discoloration; which in turn prevents your skin from discoloration. Each piece is treated with several coats of Renaissance Wax. Renaissance Wax polish was originally formulated in the British Museum research laboratories in the early 1950’s. It is free from acids (pH neutral) and will not damage even sensitive materials. Renaissance Wax has a unique quality and is ideal for protecting copper surfaces from environmental attack and handling. It dries hard and does not, like oil, remain sticky and attract atmospheric acidy making it ideal for copper.
With prolonged use Renaissance Wax will wear off however, you can maintain a comparable finish by simply applying a thin coat of good quality car wax; either paste or liquid to copper jewelry. It will leave a beautiful high polished finish as well as protect your jewelry from your body oils and prevent oxidation. The lack of oxidation will prevent your skin from turning green. The key is to keep your copper clean, wax coated or not. Dirty copper means eventually your skin may turn green. Not to worry; it’s not harmful in any way; just annoying and can be avoided. By following our suggestions on keeping your copper clean you shouldn’t have a problem. Keeping your copper jewelry clean is the key to keeping your skin from turning green, period.