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Care and Keeping of Copper Jewelry

One question I'm often asked is, "Does the copper turn skin green or black?" 

The short answer is yes, and no. It depends. The reason that you may see discoloration of skin where it comes into contact with copper is essentially a build up of salt that is caused from the copper reacting to the chemicals in your system. Now, not everyone will react or turn colors from the copper, it depends upon the pH of your body, how much you sweat, and other factors such as what soaps you use, and whether or not you put lotion on. All of these things can contribute to that reaction. 

So, why don't I coat my jewelry in some kind of sealant? Several reasons. Firstly, some people genuinely appreciate that copper has some purported healing benefits. If it's not contacting the body, those effects disappear. Also, some people will have no reaction or discoloration. And lastly, any sealant that can be used on jewelry will eventually peel off and leave an unsightly mess behind. I recommend that if you would like to create a barrier between your skin and your copper jewelry, you coat it with clear nail polish. However, know that you will have to periodically reapply it. There is no permanent coating for jewelry. 

Another question I get is, "Why does the copper look so dark?" 

This is intentional, because it gives my work an antique feeling, and also because it brings out the intricate details of wire weaving. It is achieved (in most cases) by soaking the finished pieces in a liver of sulfur solution. Afterward it's buffed, tumbled, and then polished. 

Copper will continue to darken over time, depending upon environmental factors and how often the piece is worn. Body oils and dirt will eventually build up on the surface of your piece. The best way to clean this is by simply using ketchup. It's got enough acid to remove the top layer of filmy dirt, but it does so slowly enough that you can control it, and not remove all of the patina from your piece. So you can freely slather ketchup onto the copper, and then check it as it lightens up. When the desired color is reached, just rinse it in warm water, and wash it with dish soap. I recommend Dawn. Also, using a toothbrush to gently clean the piece will aid in removing all of the ketchup from the recessed areas. 

Copper is simple to care for, and has a warmth and appeal all its own. I hope you will come to love it's unique qualities as much as I have. 

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