Copper Jewelry Guide
Over the last few years, we’ve enjoyed telling you all about our favorite gemstones. This month, we’re switching gears a little bit to focus on one of our most-loved metals: copper!
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the history of this material, show you some of our most popular copper jewelry, and help you understand all the reasons why we just can’t get enough of copper.
Let’s get started!
What is Copper?
Copper is one of the world’s most popular metals. Distinguished by its beautiful red-brown color, this metal is found naturally in the earth and is an excellent conductor of both electricity and heat. Copper plays an important role in our everyday lives, from cookware, air conditioning and refrigeration, to power utilities and automotive materials.
Copper is also an integral component of various alloys. An alloy is a material created from a mixture of metals and elements. Sterling silver, bronze, and cupronickel are great examples of popular copper alloys.
Although not an incredibly strong material, copper is both tough and malleable. This combination has made copper an especially desirable material for jewelry artists for generations around the world.
Copper Throughout History
Copper is the oldest metal known to man. It was first discovered and used about 10,000 years ago on the island of Cyprus and numerous other sites in the Middle East.
Back then, copper was a prized material for creating decorative items like lamps, mirrors, balances, crowns, and adornments. It was also used to create weapons and tools, though this was eventually found to be ineffective, thanks to the material’s innate softness.
Today, because the metal is such a great conductor of electricity, copper is widely used in things like:
- Electrical generators
- Electrical wiring
- Radio and TV sets
- Vehicle radiators
- Air conditioners
- Home heating systems
- Medical instruments
Copper’s aesthetically pleasing red color also makes it a favorite material of artists and architects. Beyond its beautiful color, there are other reasons why this metal is so popular among artists:
- Durability: Copper is not easy to break, making it easy for jewelers to work with.
- Long-lasting: When properly cared for, copper will last a longer than a lifetime.
- Malleability: Copper can be easily shaped and formed into complex and intricate surfaces.
Because of its simple beauty, copper is a fashionable and highly sought after jewelry item. People everywhere love the look of copper jewelry.
Fun Facts About Copper
- The Statue of Liberty is made from 179,000 pounds of copper.
- Copper is naturally antibacterial and an essential mineral in the body. It helps form collagen, produce energy, and increase iron absorption.
- Copper is 100% recyclable.
- Over 80% of copper mined since it was discovered thousands of years ago is still in use today.
As a symbol, copper has long been associated with matters of love. In Mexican culture, the metal symbolizes characteristics like charisma, beauty, artistic creativity, and affection. It’s also considered a healing and balancing property.
Why Copper Turns Your Skin Green
If you’ve ever owned a piece of copper jewelry, you may have noticed it sometimes produces a greenish hue on your skin. Don’t worry, this is a totally normal reaction that occurs with any kind of prolonged copper exposure to skin.
The green color will fade, can be washed off with soap and water, and it’s not harmful to your health.
But why does it turn your skin green? It’s a result of oxidization, called patina.
In its purest form, copper cannot be absorbed by our skin. But chelated copper compounds can be. The sweat from your skin slowly starts to chelate the copper, and your skin absorbs it. A green stain becomes visible when the copper is dissolving faster than your skin can absorb it.
By the way, this chelating process can be prevented by purchasing sealed jewelry. Here at Taxco, all our copper jewelry is sealed to help eliminate green skin.
Cleaning Your Copper Jewelry
Cleaning your copper jewelry is simple. You probably have everything you need to get the job done right there in your home.
It may surprise you to learn that lemon and ketchup are both excellent for cleaning your copper jewelry. The key is their natural acidity.
Here’s the process:
- Place your copper jewelry in a bowl and cover with your choice of cleaner.
- Let the jewelry soak for no longer than 20 minutes.
- Carefully use a soft toothbrush to clean out crevices.
- Use water and a mild soap to wash away the acidic cleaner.
- Pat dry with a soft cloth.
Your copper jewelry should come out looking good as new!
(Photo credit: Thelmadatter)
How Copper is Used in Mexican Jewelry
Copper was first used in Mexico to create various instruments, such as cooking pots, axes, chisels, needles, and helmets. However, since the prehispanic period, copper in Mexico has also been used for decorative items like small bells, pins, brooches, and jewelry.
Modern Mexican handcrafted jewelry combines both Spanish and indigenous traditions to create beautiful designs.
Cooper bracelets with intricate designs remind us of Oaxaca and Yucatan. Long dangling copper earrings are stamped with images of leaves or flowers, speaking to the styles of Huetamo and Zitacuaro.
Mayan influence is seen in large copper necklace chains. And inspiration from Patzcuaro’s traditional necklaces of porcelain beads can be seen in brushed copper beaded jewelry.
Mexican copper jewelry also uses Niello in its designs. Niello is a mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulfides.This material is often used as an inlay in copper pieces like bracelets and rings. A niello coating helps copper stand out and gives the piece a truly unique appearance.
Our Favorite Copper Jewelry Pieces
There’s nothing quite as stunning as a polished piece of copper jewelry. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite copper jewelry.
Big Bold Mexican Copper Hammered Bead Clamper
This copper hammered bracelet makes a statement, there’s no doubt about it. This is a heavy clamper bracelet with hammered beads and detailed with a niello-darkened finish. Truly stunning!
Mexican Beaded Copper Ring
We’re smitten over this Mexican Beaded Copper Ring! It showcases a contoured and modern beaded motif and can be accommodated for different finger sizes.
4 Row Strand Mexican Copper Bead Necklace
This copper treasure showcases a timeless class and elegance. The necklace features 4 rows of copper beads strung together on a strong wire, sealed with an easy-to-use toggle closure.
Bold Taxco Copper Sea Coral Motif Hanging Earrings
What a fun set of earrings! We love the flowing sea coral pattern cut into these copper earrings.
Do You Love Copper As Much as We Do?
We hope you learned something new about copper and love it as much as we do!
Do you have a favorite copper jewelry piece? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know about new copper products and awesome monthly sales.