Due to its resemblance to gold, brass has been used as a metal for making jewellery since time immemorial. Brass is a zinc and copper alloy (a metal formed by combining two or more metallic elements).
Aside from its beauty and low cost, brass is also very easy to clean and maintain, in contrast to other types of metallic jewellery.
It is important to note that while brass bears a resemblance to gold, it is not fake gold.
Rather, it is an alloy made of copper and zinc. If there is more copper, the product takes on a more yellow tone, while more zinc gives it a whiter tone. It is fairly simple to tell whether something is made from brass or gold.
Does Brass Jewellery Tarnish?
With constant exposure to oxygen, a natural component of the air around us, most metals will tarnish, and brass is no exception.
Brass is naturally resistant to corrosion, so it does not rust.
Tarnishing refers to the surface discoloration of a metal or a slight loss of its surface finesse. In contrast, when a metal corrodes, it degrades because of environmental reactions, including chemicals, moisture, the atmosphere, acidic or alkaline solutions, and other substances.
Tarnishing is essentially the surface corrosion of metals that results in a loss of shine and brilliance.
When copper-based materials tarnish, a thin, dull, grey, or black coating is formed, referred to as “patina.” Therefore, it is true to say that patina is the term used to describe tarnish on materials made of copper.
Another factor that accelerates the tarnishing process of brass jewellery is the coating of oil and dead skin cells that the skin leaves on the surface of the jewellery.
Fortunately, the process of tarnishing is self-limiting and, more importantly, one that is reversible. Continue reading to learn how to restore the shine and brilliance of your tarnished brass jewellery.
How Long Does Brass Jewellery Last
Good Jewellery should be able to maintain its appearance for an extended period of time.
Brass jewellery will last a long time. However, occasional cleaning is required to maintain its brilliance. The time it takes for brass jewellery to tarnish varies depending on how frequently it is worn, how well it is maintained, and environmental factors.
Jewellery made of brass inherits the metal’s inherent resistance to corrosion. As a result, jewellery made of brass could last up to two years before tarnishing starts to fade its colour.
Jewellery is more susceptible to body oils, dirt, and oxygen in the air when worn frequently—all of these quicken the rate at which the tarnishing process occurs.
Fortunately, only the jewellery’s surface is harmed by the patina that results from brass tarnishing. This means that you can revive the sparkle of your jewellery with proper cleaning.
There is another process that brass products go through, known as the dezincification of brass. This is a process of corrosion in which zinc is lost and copper is left behind. However, it takes place over a very long period of time.
It takes place gradually, and before seeing your jewellery dezincify, you probably have already changed your it.
How To Stop Brass Jewellery From Tarnishing
While removing patina from jewellery surfaces is not so much of a complicated process, an even easier process is to prevent the tarnishing process altogether. Preventing the tarnishing of brass jewellery involves knowledge of the agents corroding the brass and how to stop or neutralize the efficacy of such agents.
Let us take a look at some of these agents, one by one:
Oxygen and moisture
The primary agent responsible for corrosion in metals is oxygen. Oxygen is a major component of the water (in its dissolved form) and air surrounding us. Oxygen reacts with the metals in the jewellery to form oxides, forming a patina that darkens the surface of the jewellery and removes its lustre.
Body oil, lotion, and sweat
Jewellery can also become tarnished by body lotion, body oil, sweat, and dead skin cells. This is because these substances tend to deposit on the jewellery causing it to become tarnished.
What To Do?
After we have learned some of the most common things that cause jewellery to tarnish, it is only natural to also learn how to prevent or reduce exposure to these substances to preserve the jewelry’s condition.
Here are a few tips to help you keep the lustre of your jewellery for a little longer:
- Avoid exposure to water: To reduce the rate of oxidation of the metallic components of your jewellery, it is wise to keep it away from moisture.
- Avoid undue exposure to lotion, sweat, and perfume as much as possible: All of the aforementioned can tarnish jewellery, so it is best to avoid wearing jewellery when they are present. For example, if you plan on working out or tanning, it is best to avoid wearing jewellery to prevent sweat and lotion from depositing on the jewellery and causing tarnishing.
- Apply clear nail polish: Before wearing jewellery, you can apply a thin coat of clear nail polish to your skin. This layer of nail polish between the skin and the jewellery acts as a screen, preventing sweat from being deposited on the surface of the jewellery. This, in turn, slows down the tarnishing process.
- Store jewellery properly: When not in use, jewellery needs to be properly stored in an airtight jewellery bag. Make sure to remove all of the air from the bag before putting your jewellery inside, and then store it somewhere cool and dry.
How To Clean And Polish Tarnished Brass Jewellery
Brass jewellery, like other types of jewellery, tarnishes with time. Brass tarnishes when a layer of patina forms on its surface. It is critical for people who wear jewellery frequently to know how to remove tarnish from their jewellery; otherwise, they may end up spending a lot of money on new jewellery or losing interest in jewellery altogether.
There are several proven methods to clean and polish tarnished brass jewellery and a few of them are discussed below:
1. Apply toothpaste:
Apply a thin layer of plain, white toothpaste to the jewellery and let it sit for a few minutes. After that, polish the jewellery with a clean, soft cloth to get rid of any lingering grime or dirt. Rinse the brass completely under running water once it appears shiny and bright, then dry it with a different soft cloth.
Make sure it is a non-gel toothpaste you are using. And also, if the layer of patina is heavy, you can let the toothpaste sit for about 30 minutes before wiping it off.
Because toothpaste has a slightly abrasive quality, it cleans the brass so thoroughly. However, you should only use this method occasionally because it can scratch the brass’s surface over time.
2. Apply ketchup:
It may surprise you to learn that ketchup can be used to clean brass items that have become tarnished over time. The tarnish will be quickly removed by the acids in the ketchup, which will degrade it. However, ensure your brass isn’t lacquered before you proceed; if it has a shiny appearance and only appears tarnished where the coating has worn off, you’ll need to remove the lacquer before cleaning the item.
Put your brass object in a clean bowl and wash it with soap and water first. Put enough ketchup on the brass item to completely cover it.
Depending on how tarnished the brass item is, let the ketchup sit for 15 minutes to an hour or even two hours.
Make sure to thoroughly wash off the ketchup, or it could leave a sticky residue on your jewellery when you wash it off with warm, soapy water; then dry the item with a soft cloth.Lemon juice and baking soda or salt:
3. Lemon juice can be combined with either baking soda or salt to remove tarnish from brass jewellery.
With baking soda
Basically, you just need to squeeze half a lemon into a small bowl with three to four teaspoons of baking soda and stir. You then use an old toothbrush to apply the bubbly paste to your brass item and scrub away the layer of patina. Then rinse, making sure that the paste is completely expelled from the surface of the jewellery, and then pat with a clean, dry cloth.
A lemon’s acidity is just right for removing grime and tarnish from brass without being too harsh to harm the finish.
Cut a lemon in half. Salt-coat one of the lemon’s cut sides. Sprinkle a thin layer of salt on a small plate or saucer. Next, firmly press one of your lemon halves into the salt, using the cut side.
The salt will stick to the lemon and cover the cut side completely.
After being scrubbed with salt and lemon, the brass should shine.
Hold your brass jewellery in one hand, or place it flat and stabilise it with your other hand. After that, rub the salt and lemon juice all over your brass jewellery. The salt and acid in the lemon should work together to quickly loosen and clean the dirt and tarnish from the jewellery.
For difficult-to-reach areas, squeeze out some lemon juice and combine it with salt to make a paste, then apply this paste with a soft bristled brush and scrub gently until clean. Finally, rinse with warm water thoroughly and pat dry with a clean towel.
Cleaning your brass jewellery is a piece of cake with the ideas above, and you don’t have to replace it all the time.
Can You Wear Brass Jewellery Everyday?
Yes, you can wear brass jewellery daily. However, it is not advisable to do this.
Aside from the risk of turning your skin green, your skin may develop allergic reactions to it, and the rate at which tarnishing occurs increases with increased frequency of use.
Nevertheless, putting a layer of clear nail polish between the jewellery and the skin reduces the chances of getting green skin.
Not everyone is allergic to metals; in fact, most people aren’t, and if you can keep your brass jewellery clean and polished, nothing is stopping you from wearing it every day.
Brass is an excellent material for making jewellery for a variety of reasons, including its resemblance to gold, resistance to corrosion, ease of cleaning and polishing, low cost, durability, and low maintenance. It is our sincere hope that after reading this piece, you are able to maintain and clean your brass jewellery more easily to get the best out of your beloved possession.