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How to Clean Copper Jewelry?

How to Clean Copper Jewelry?

You may have noticed that your copper is less of a traditional bronze, and more of a blue and green color. What's happening to cause this? Copper jewelry starts out a brilliant, reddish-gold, but it starts to develop a blue-green patina over time. Sometimes this is intentional, sometimes it's not. Let's take a look at how you clean your copper jewelry.

Copper Patina

Over time, copper develops what's known as a "patina." The oxidization of the material turns into a lovely blue-green shade. In many copper pieces, this type of patina is actually intentional. But in others, you would rather keep it with its original luster. Copper patina doesn't harm the material, and it can be safely removed. You can reduce the chances of copper patina by keeping your copper clean and dry, but ultimately most copper is going to start to patina over time.

Cleaning Copper Patina

Copper patina can be gently cleaned off using an acid and an abrasive. The most common at-home treatment is lemon juice and salt. Use a soft brush such as a toothbrush to work the lemon juice and salt around the patina until it starts to dissolve. You don't want to brush hard because that could scratch the delicate material of the copper. Instead, just continue to brush in gentle, circular motions. The lemon juice and salt should eventually wear away the patina.

Keeping Your Patina

If you want to keep your copper patina while still cleaning the jewelry, the process is easy. You would wipe down your copper jewelry with a microfiber cloth and soapy, warm water. Just gently cleaning your copper jewelry will remove any dirt, dust, and films on the surface, but it won't remove the patina itself. In general, the patina really needs an acidic solution to be removed easily; otherwise, it will feel like a part of the material. You should be aware that the patina is more delicate than the copper and can easily be scratched or scraped.

Sealing Your Copper

Jewelry Some copper jewelry is intentionally sealed to protect from patina. The most common way to do this is a form of wax or other protectants, such as enamel. If you have copper jewelry that you want to maintain as though it's new, you can hire a jeweler to seal it. If your jewelry has gemstones in it or other ornate features, be cautious; you don't want to cover gems or other features with a heavy wax or enamel.

Cleaning Sealed Copper Jewelry

If you've had your jewelry for some time, and it hasn't discolored but has simply dulled, it's likely intentionally sealed. If you clean it, you will remove the dull sheen from it, but you might also remove the sealant. For that reason, you might want to either take it to a professional or ask the original jeweler or artist who created it. If you clean the jewelry, purchase a sealant (such as a wax) to re-seal the jewelry after it's been cleaned. Copper jewelry is known for its character. Part of that is the patina. So, some jewelry you have may develop a natural patina over time. You may want to remove it or preserve it, depending on how you like your jewelry. But you can know that the patina isn't damaging or dangerous, and it isn't "dirty," it's just the natural oxidization of the material over time.

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