In terms of its value, copper is an underrated metal when compared to silver and gold, yet it is an extremely versatile metal that has excellent durability and malleability — making it a popular choice for jewelry, such as bracelets. Unfortunately, copper loses its luster and gets tarnished over time. It reacts with external factors such as oxygen, moisture, other chemicals, and even human skin that can corrode the copper. This causes the development of a green layer on the metal’s surface called a copper patina. So, if your copper bracelet needs a refresh, you’re in luck because below we show you everything you need to know for how to clean your copper bracelet!
Let’s get to it...
Sealing a Copper Bracelet
Lacquer is typically applied onto the surface of copper jewelry to prevent corrosion or tarnishing from external factors. However, placing lacquer can make the jewelry dull-looking and less shiny. Fortunately, you can just polish it with a fine cloth to get its shine back.
Many jewelers sell copper pieces sealed with a polymer coating, but you can purchase a commercial copper sealer if yours isn’t. You can also use nail polish or car wax since they also lacquer copper and prevent it from tarnishing - doing this also helps prevent getting a patina.
Cleaning Your Copper Bracelet
- Bracelets with gemstones aren’t hard to clean, but they are tricky because gemstones have different cleaning requirements. If there are gemstones on your copper bracelet, the best way to do this is to work around them.
- Using acidic substances can also damage the gemstones, so be sure to consider this before trying out the suggestions below.
- Always consult with your jeweler if you need to clean your copper jewelry. While some of the substances suggested here are great for removing tarnish, copper should never be soaked in them.
Lacquered VS Unlacquered
Cleaning a Lacquered Copper Bracelet
If your copper bracelet already has a lacquer finish, it will be a long time until you start seeing traces of tarnish. Eventually, you will notice that it will get dull if it isn’t cleaned properly. But you can prevent this using a polishing cloth to clean your copper bracelet periodically. Polishing can help restore the shine it had but don’t overdo it— overpolishing can rub some of the lacquer off. Cleaning your copper bracelets once every two months is ideal, and remember that you need a polishing cloth specifically for copper since other types may not be effective.
If your bracelet is so dirty that polishing doesn’t help, try cleaning it using warm, soapy water with a lint-free cloth. Gently rub your bracelet using the cloth and dry it afterward.
Cleaning an Unlacquered Copper Bracelet
Tip 1: Using Lemon Juice and Salt
Using a mildly acidic substance like lemon juice removes mineral deposits from your bracelet, and the salt is the abrasive that rubs it off. You can use a glass container that has lemon juice with a bit of salt— soak your bracelet for 10 minutes, then rinse it with warm water before drying it off with a microfiber cloth to give it back its shine.
Tip 2: Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
You can make a cleaning paste with acidic and abrasive components by adding equal parts of baking soda and lemon juice. Use this paste to gently clean the bracelet by rubbing it with a cloth, an old toothbrush, or your fingers. Once it’s as clean as can be, give it a rinse and dry it off with a soft cloth.
Tip 3: Lemons and Limes
For this method, start by cutting a lime or lemon in half. Sprinkle one half with salt and rub it all over the tarnished areas of your bracelet until it’s clean. Rub the piece using the rough side of a sponge, and finish it off with a beeswax polish for a longer shine.
Tip 4: Ketchup
This method works best on small areas that have tarnish. Rub a thin to moderate layer of ketchup over the tarnished areas of your bracelet and let it sit for 15 minutes. When ready, rub it with a non-scratch pad and wash it off completely.
Tip 5: Salt and Vinegar
You can simply pour salt along with white vinegar over your copper bracelet, and then rub it to remove tarnished areas. Then, simply rinse it off and polish using a soft, dry cloth. Alternatively, you can place one tablespoon of salt and one cup of vinegar into a pot— fill it with water, and then place the bracelet inside. Wait for it to come to a boil for all the tarnish to come off, then wash it with water and soap once it’s cool.
Tip 6: Vinegar, Salt, and Flour
Mix one tablespoon of salt and one cup of white vinegar in a bowl, then gradually add flour and mix until it forms a paste. Now, apply the paste to your bracelet and rub it over the tarnished areas. Let it sit from 15 minutes to an hour and rinse with warm water—polish as needed.
Tip 7: Lemon Juice Dip
You can also make a lemon juice dip with some salt (make sure to use a ceramic bowl). Let your bracelet sit in the mixture for 5-10 mins, scrub it with a cloth or an old toothbrush, rinse it with water, and then dry with a soft cloth
Tip 8: Jewelry Polishing Cloth
After you've finished cleaning your copper bracelet using any of the tips above, it's best to polish it using a jewelry polishing cloth. Always use a polishing cloth made specifically for copper.
Tip 9: Commercial Industrial Copper Cleaners
If these at-home methods don't work because your copper bracelet is heavily tarnished, then you'll need to use a commercial cleaner designed for copper jewelry. Simply dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and use it to rub your bracelet gently. Then rinse and dry your bracelet afterward.
How to Deal with Copper Stains
There are times when copper can leave a green residue on your skin. This happens because the chemical reaction between copper and your perspiration creates copper chelates— which are pieces of copper stuck on the surface of your skin. While pure copper can't be absorbed through the skin, copper chelates can be. However, the human body regulates the amount of copper in the body, so the excess copper turns your skin green.
Thankfully, absorbing copper isn't harmful to us — the body needs copper, and some even wear them to avoid copper deficiency. Copper is also an antifungal and antimicrobial metal and doesn't irritate or harm our skin. This green staining that copper leaves on your skin isn't permanent and can be washed off with soap and water.
How to Polish Your Copper Jewelry
Polishing your copper jewelry works best when you use a jewelry polish cloth specially made for copper pieces. These will be much more effective to use compared to ones that are made just for gold or silver. To polish your jewelry, simply put on your favorite Netflix show and put in a little elbow grease. It may take a little time so be patient and be gentle with your pieces.
How to Store Your Copper Jewelry
Make sure that all your copper pieces are thoroughly dried before storing them in an airtight container — exposure to moisture and air is what causes copper tarnish. Always look for a cool and dry area when storing your copper.
You can place them in a Ziploc bag or any other airtight bags to further reduce your jewelry’s interaction with air. You can also store your jewelry with anti-tarnish paper that absorbs pollutants that can corrode your copper. Doing these steps will slow down their rate of tarnish.
It's also best to avoid wearing copper jewelry when swimming in pools or using household detergents that contain chlorine because it may damage copper jewelry. Furthermore, body oils also cause your copper pieces to tarnish over time, so it's important to keep them clean and polished.
How to Wear Your Copper Bracelet
As mentioned above, parts of your skin in contact with copper can affect its color. If this concerns you, simply apply clear nail polish in the areas that come into contact with your skin— but don't forget to keep the nail polish away from any gemstones.
Again, don't wear your copper pieces in places like the shower or the pool— since chemicals in the water may damage your bracelet. Also, always remove your copper jewelry when washing dishes or doing activities around the house to prevent it from getting damaged.That’s everything you need to know about how to clean a copper bracelet or any other piece of copper jewelry for that matter. If you're looking for a new bracelet, you'll be in for a treat at Lexie Jordan Fine Jewelry. Cheryl Roberts, the designer, takes pride in personally selecting the resource materials and minerals for all jewelry. While we work mostly with golds, silver, and platinum, we are always adding to our collection of fine bracelets