Last Updated on December 29, 2021
Copper is a very common material used to make jewelry of all sorts: Bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and rings. If you’re an avid jewelry collector, it’s likely that you have at least one piece of copper jewelry in your collection.
Perhaps you’ve even noticed that your copper bracelet or necklace isn’t quite as shiny as it was when you initially bought it, which begs the question: Does copper jewelry tarnish?
Unfortunately, copper jewelry can easily get tarnished when it is not properly cleaned and cared for.
There is some good news, though: When copper jewelry is properly cared for and cleaned at regular intervals, you can keep it tarnish-free, no problem. So, if you want to know the secret behind why copper jewelry tarnishes—as well as some steps you can take to ensure your copper jewelry does not get tarnished—then this is the article for you.
Does Copper Jewelry Tarnish?
Yes, copper jewelry does tarnish.
At this point, you might be wondering what it means for a piece of jewelry to get “tarnished” in the first place. When a piece of jewelry gets tarnished, it generally means that it gets dull and loses its shine as a result of exposure to air and moisture.
Luckily for us, most copper jewelry has some sort of oil, finish, polish, or lacquer on its exterior to protect it from tarnishing. Yet if this layer wears thin, the jewelry itself is vulnerable to air and moisture making it more likely to tarnish.
Copper is one of those odd materials that does not only get tarnished when it is exposed to air and moisture, but also if it comes into consistent contact with the skin. If you’ve ever noticed a green or grey patch on your skin after wearing copper jewelry, this is oftentimes a result of copper flecking off the jewelry and reacting with your skin.
Does Copper Jewelry Change Color?
As noted above, copper jewelry can cause your skin to change color to a certain degree, but what about the jewelry itself? Does the copper jewelry change color, too?
Yes, copper jewelry can turn green, too, when it gets tarnished.
When copper jewelry is overexposed to air, moisture, other chemicals, and human skin, it causes a green layer to develop on its exterior. This can—in turn—also result in your skin turning green.
Although this is not necessarily bad for your skin, I would recommend avoiding copper jewelry altogether if you find the green color or stains concerning. It is quite easy to find jewelry made from materials other than copper.
How to Keep Copper Jewelry from Tarnishing
There are a few simple steps you can take to prevent your copper jewelry from tarnishing.
First and foremost, it is ideal to keep copper jewelry out of water at all costs. Ensure you remove any copper jewelry before showering or going swimming because excessive exposure to water could cause copper jewelry to tarnish at a much quicker rate. If your copper jewelry does get wet for some reason, dry it off as thoroughly as possible using a soft cloth.
It is especially important to make sure that your copper jewelry is completely dry when you are planning on storing it for an extended period of time, as well. If you do not dry it properly, then you might come back to a piece of copper jewelry that looks much duller than the original piece. This being said, cool and dry storage locations are a must when storing copper jewelry.
Lastly, there are special polishing cloths that you can purchase for copper jewelry specifically. So, if you have multiple pieces of copper jewelry in your collection, it might be worth picking up one of these special polishing cloths and wiping down your copper jewelry pieces on a regular basis to help prevent tarnishing.