Copper has been used in Irish jewellery for centuries. It is a reddish, brown metal that is a pleasure to work with and beautiful to wear.
Natural copper wire lends a warmer look than silver, and tends to scratch less easily than plated wire when working with it. It is pliable for wire wrapping, yet strong and sturdy, perfect for encasing seaglass. I love it whether it's shiny and red, or whether it has garnered a darker, more rustic patina with time.
I've just listed this russet-brown seaglass pendant on Etsy. I found the frosted glass on a beach in Dublin. The rich, autumnal colour works really well with the warmth of the copper wire.
Right now the metal is bright and shiny. It will slowly gain a darker patina. This is a natural occurrence known as oxidation.
This turquoise stone pendant is wrapped in pre-oxidised copper wire. It has a more rustic or vintage feel to it.
Brightening untreated copper is actually fairly easy to do. Beware of trying this on lacquered copper or so-called 'Vintaj' copper or similar. Lacquered copper will never really tarnish, it just gets grimy. All it needs is a wash in soapy water. 'Vintag' or 'Antiqued' copper is a cheaper alloy metal and will not brighten properly.
However, natural copper that has oxidised over time can be brightened with a lemon and salt solution. Just pour a couple of inches of water into a non-metallic bowl. Add a few drops of lemon, enough to lightly cloud the solution, and a few decent shakes of salt. Dip or soak your natural copper and watch how quickly the patina is lifted off.
|salt and lemon solution will brighten natural copper|
This method is safe for sea glass and other glass but not recommended for gemstone, pearls or amber. It is safe for sheet copper jewellery that is un-coated.
Copper bookmarks. Oxidised on the left, cleaned with lemon and salt in water on the right.
How to Clean Silver
How to Clean Seaglass and Sea Pottery
How to Care for Seaglass Jewellery