Last Updated on December 29, 2023
Although brass is somewhat of an acquired taste when it comes to jewelry, some collectors absolutely cherish the brass pieces in their collections. And I am one of those people!
When I purchased my first piece of brass jewelry for my collection—it was a dainty brass pinky ring, and I still have it today—I knew right from the start that I wanted to keep that piece in my collection for as long as possible without doing any harm to its stunning appearance. This made me wonder: Does brass jewelry tarnish?
After researching the topic, I found that unfortunately yes, brass jewelry does tarnish over time.
On a positive note, while doing my research, I also found that there are extra precautions you can take to help minimize tarnish on brass jewelry. Keep reading if you’re interested in discovering why brass jewelry tarnishes and how you might prevent your own brass pieces from getting tarnished.
Does Brass Jewelry Tarnish?
A fear that all jewelry collectors share is that pieces in their collection may ultimately get tarnished, which means that they become dull, lackluster, and sometimes even discolored from exposure to moisture, air, human skin, and other chemicals. This is a valid fear since most materials do—in fact—end up getting tarnished at some point.
And brass jewelry is no different: Over time, if you do not take care to properly clean and maintain your brass jewelry, it eventually starts to fade, dull, and even turn a disappointing shade of green or grey.
Brass jewelry is susceptible to getting tarnished primarily because it contains traces of copper in its composition. Copper is known for turning green—and even turning skin green—when it is overexposed to air and especially moisture.
Just because your brass jewelry contains traces of copper does not necessarily mean that it tarnishes as quickly as pure copper, though.
How Quickly Does Brass Jewelry Tarnish?
The amount of time it takes for brass jewelry to tarnish depends entirely on how you treat it.
When brass jewelry is well taken care of and cleaned on a regular basis, it will take years and years for it to tarnish a noticeable amount. Brass is actually known for its already somewhat dull appearance, so this makes it even more difficult to notice when it does begin to tarnish.
If you are not taking proper care of your brass jewelry, though—for instance, you wear it in the swimming pool or when you shower every day—then it is going to get tarnished at a much quicker rate.
How to Clean Brass Jewelry
There are a number of ways to clean brass jewelry, but brass cleaner and the lemon-and-salt method are the most common.
The easiest and most reliable way to clean brass jewelry is by picking up a brass cleaner from your local jewelry shop or online and using it on your brass jewelry whenever you see fit. If you wear your brass jewelry on a daily basis, it may require more frequent cleaning than other jewelry pieces that you only wear once a week or month.
If you cannot find brass cleaner or prefer to use a more natural method, you can use the lemon-and-salt method to clean your brass jewelry. For this cleaning method, you simply slice a lemon in half, dunk one side of the lemon in salt, and then gently scrub down your brass jewelry until it has optimal shine.
It is important to remember that if you do choose to use the lemon-and-salt method, you need to rinse the brass jewelry under water for a brief moment when cleaning is complete to eliminate any residue. Ensure that you also dry off the brass jewelry as thoroughly as possible afterward or else you might find that the copper traces in the jewelry begin to tarnish.