Before really launching my own jewelry business I worked and tried to learn as much as I could from within the jewelry industry. I come from a background of working in a high end jewelry store on an illustrious street in Santa Monica, California where price tags ranged upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Needless to say, all of the jewelry there was gold & platinum with occasional silver. While I love gold & platinum jewelry, I try to offer my regular collections in a more affordable price range for the (not-so) average working woman without sacrificing quality. There are sooooo many kinds of metals out there to choose from when it comes to buying jewelry. Materials range from cheap base metal to things with a heftier price tag like gold & platinum. For this post I want to focus on a metal rich in color, versatility and history but is sometimes overlooked as a great option for heirloom jewelry....Brass.
We all have our favorite colors of metal we like to wearL White/Silver, Yellow Gold and Rose Gold are the popular options and many of us have a preference based on taste, sentimentality or its appearance against our unique skin tones and hair. For those who like gold color but don't want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on solid gold pieces we have alternative materials that will give us the look without doing too much damage to our pocket books. This brings me to Brass. Here's the thing about Brass: When it's newly polished it gives off a beautiful shine that looks like Yellow Gold. You can wear that crap out of it, get it wet in the pool or shower (just pat it dry after) and you don't have to worry about causing long term damages to your jewelry where you would have to be more careful when wearing jewelry with gold overlay. Some even prefer the tone of brass to the bright yellow color of gold as it is a little less "Bling-y" (yes, that is a word I think). It also has a long and fascinating history reaching back thousands of years.
The downside (or upside, depending on your tastes) is that with exposure to light and moisture, your brass jewelry can begin to turn a green-gold that deepens over time when left exposed and not maintained. Some people like the natural patina while many do not. This reason is why I think brass gets a little bit snubbed. People don't realize that this color change is just something you have to do a little bit of work to maintain. It only takes about as long as watering your plants. And it just like caring for them too. If you are one who loves your brass pieces but loves them most in their bright & shiny state read on!
Your first line of defense is prevention. You can swim & shower in your pieces (which I find a huge plus). But keep keep it looking great by always drying it thoroughly afterwards. Do this by just patting it with a towel after it gets wet. You should also keep it in a dark pouch or ziplock bag in your jewelry box when not in use to prevent prolonged exposure to the elements that can also cause it to patina. But if you aren't able to maintain that kind of a regimen for your brass jewelry (and admittedly it hard for me....) there is still a quick and easy fix: clean it. All with ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. There are many DIY Brass Cleaning Recipes online but this is the one we like to use:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- flour- slowly stir it in until you get a paste-like consistency.
- Soak jewelry for 10 min or longer as needed and wash off with water....and voila
Shiny Shiny Shiny! Now your jewelry is looking brand new and you are back in business!
For some unlucky people, brass can react with their skin chemistry and turn their skin around the metal to green- this happens most in the case of rings. While this is an absolutely harmless reaction, if you are one of the unlucky ones who experience this reaction you just might want to limit the wearing of your brass pieces to when you go out. Take it off when you are done and give your skin a break when sleeping or hanging out at home.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out! Im always up for talking shop!