Copper, one of the world’s most essential and popular metals, plays a vital role in our world. A robust material utilised in a variety of applications for millennia, copper has been used in medical equipment, weaponry, coinage, jewellery, handicrafts, manufacturing, and technology.
Because of its stunning reddish-brown hue, copper is an especially popular metal for jewellery. Visually unique, durable, and relatively cheap, copper can be moulded into beautiful patterns. Read on to learn more about copper jewellery and the benefits of owning it.
Copper’s History and Origin
The earth’s oldest metal, copper abounds in nature. Used in ancient times as long ago as 13,000 years, copper did not begin to be purified and alloyed until roughly 5000 years ago, mostly in the Arab World. Egyptians and native peoples of that region, among other early civilisations, made extensive use of it.
Copper’s historical and cultural significance cannot be over emphasised. After all, a significant era in western history, the Bronze Age, is named after a renowned copper alloy. Historically, copper was associated with social rank and power and held such value that served as a form of currency. Today, however, copper coins, such as the US penny, have minimal value.
Throughout history, copper has been used extensively in the manufacture of tools and weapons. Copper’s superior heat conductivity has enabled its use in countless technical and electrical applications.
The Ruggedness of Copper
A large part of copper’s appeal rests with its incredible durability. While pure copper may not be particuarly strong, its malleability makes up for its lack of strength. When blended with other metals such as zinc or tin, a much stronger material can result. Bronze, brass, and sterling silver are all alloys of copper.
With proper care, copper can and does easily endure many generations, and for this reason many jewellers prefer copper not only for its malleability but for its durability as well.
Copper does tarnish, it does eventually acquire a greenish patina (a result of oxidation). The most famous US landmark, the Statue of Liberty, composed entirely of copper, bears the quintessential green patina of antique copper .
Due to its beautiful hue and malleability, copper has been used for jewellery making since ancient times. Copper jewellery dates as far back as the eighth millennium BC, with the impressive metal being still widely used for jewellery creation today.
Copper’s charm lies with its earthy hue. After being well worn, copper gradually changes colour from a glossy, earthy brown to a darker, more golden brown. Copper, if left unmaintained for an extended period of time, will become green, forming the classic copper patina.
Since the ancient days, copper has always been associated with love and fortune. Stories passed down through the ages tells us that copper promotes healing and facilitates communication and equilibrium.
Copper jewellery can elegantly demonstrate your individuality. And if properly cared for, copper can be worn beautifully every day.
Another reason for its popularity in jewellery making, copper serves as an excellent setting material for semi-precious gemstones. The contrast between the copper and the colours of the gemstones creates a stunning and charming, age-old feel. Because of its extremely versatile hue, copper complements every gemstone.
For millennia, transition metals have been recycled, melted down, and repurposed. Copper is completely recyclable without sacrificing any of its original quality, and being a non-ferrous metal (a non-magnetic element that does not contain iron), it carries large scrapyard value.
Approximately 80% of the copper mined over the thousands of years since its discovery is still in use currently!
Copper and “Green Skin”
One truth about copper that may deter some individuals from wearing it is that it has the tendency to tint skin green. This happens as a result of the metal oxidising and reacting with your body’s perspiration, forming copper chelates. These harmless copper chelates are then absorbed by your skin, when then becomes slightly green due to the presence of the copper. Thankfully, green copper streaks don’t stick around forever. Simply wash your skin with warm, soapy water to remove.
Additionally, if you maintain and clean your copper jewellery regularly, you can avoid its “greening” effects. To prevent this phenomenon entirely, consider purchasing sealed copper jewellery, or copper jewellery coated with a thin layer of resin to prevent staining.
Beneficial Effects of Copper
Did you know that elemental copper plays a vital role in the human body? As with iron and zinc, we need an adequate quantity of copper inside our bodies, and copper depletion does exist.
Copper depletion happens when we do not consume enough copper-rich foods, or when our bodies are unable to absorb copper from our food for various reasons. By wearing copper jewellery, the body can sometimes absorb trace quantities of the essential metal. Amazingly, our bodies typically absorb the precise amount that we need, so absorbing “too much” copper from wearing copper jewellery should not be a concern. Be aware, however, that if your copper jewellery is plated or sealed, you will not experience these advantages. Raw copper must come into close contact with the skin in order to be effective in this way.
Certain individuals are concerned that wearing copper jewellery may result in copper poisoning. Please note that copper poisoning develops only when copper is ingested. No current data suggests that wearing copper can cause any harm. Naturally antibacterial and antifungal, copper should be thought of as safe to use on the skin.
Finally, copper is said to aid in the relief of a variety of illnesses, including joint discomfort, arthritis, rheumatism, and headaches. (While a few of these benefits may be true, they have not been independently confirmed.)
Caring for Your Copper Jewellery
As mentioned above, copper acquires a greenish coating due to oxidisation, creating the classic copper “patina.” Use a naturally acidic cleanser, such as lemon juice or vinegar, to remove greening or tarnish from copper. For full instructions on how to clean and care for your copper jewellery at home, visit our post “How to Care For Your Handmade Jewellery.“
Cleaning and maintaining your copper jewellery on a regular basis will guarantee that it shines and stays lovely for an extended period of time. Avoid handling your copper jewellery with abrasive objects. Give your copper jewellery an additional shine by using a professional polish or even auto wax, which can also help prevent your skin from becoming green.