What's all the fuss about brass and why is so much jewellery made from it? Discover all you need to know about brass jewellery, why brass is a superstar jewellery metal, along with tips to care for and protect your jewellery made from brass. Is brass jewellery affordable, safe or comfortable to wear? Read on and find out for yourself.
Brass is an alloy, or mix, of mainly copper and zinc, so shares a little of the properties of both. Copper gives colour depending on the ratio added, along with malleability. Zinc offers strength and workability at hot temperatures.
The primary reason to wear brass jewellery is it closely resembles gold, but at a fraction of the price! What's not to like about that? The colour can closely resemble 14 karat gold but is so much kinder on your pocket therefore you can buy more of it.
Broadly speaking, the brass available to buy is recycled from scrap, and therefore sustainable. Creating brass from new copper and zinc would be too wasteful and is uneconomical for the industry to produce from scratch.
There's always an ethical debate to be had over wearing precious, mined gems and minerals, versus those plentifully available, and brass is the latter.
Brass can be recycled over and over without losing its inherent properties in the process. Compared with aluminium and steel, recycling brass is less energy-intensive, so has a lower carbon footprint.
The short answer's no. In its solid form, brass is considered non-hazardous.
So why does it make the skin turn green sometimes? The copper* in the brass may be reacting with sulphur - which can happen if regularly exposed to slightly acidic water. Not dangerous and the resulting patina may provide the brass with a protective layer against further corrosion.
*Brass is much less corrosive than copper-based metals.
Brass may also corrode in the presence of chlorides (abundant in nature and generally not harmful to humans), traces of ammonia in the atmosphere, and acetates - generally worth staying away from anyway. Don't wear brass jewellery to do your cleaning without wearing gloves!
Sometimes small amounts of nickel, a known irritant for many, is added to the brass alloy mix. Check the products description thoroughly when shopping. Or read our blog, "Your Savvy Earring Guide to Keep Sensitive Ears Irritation Free" if you've already had a reaction to a brass piece you really love to wear.
As there's a tiny fraction of lead in brass, (0.03 to 3%) save it for on the skin only to be on the super-safe side.
Wax polishes and sealants can be applied to 'finish' brass, helping prevent corrosion and patina over time.
When Covid 19 first set alarms ringing around the globe, helpful advice came from all quarters. The recommendation to avoid wearing jewellery was practical but a bit of a letdown for #formalfriday.
However - due to the presence of alloyed copper, good old brass has bactericidal properties on contact, killing micro-organisms within minutes to hours. So brass gets another tick from the safety box.
Due to its malleability or workable nature, a variety of jewellery making techniques are available.
As long as it's well made! Brass is durable, so excellent detail can be achieved. Fine wire, when hardened, can be strong and lightweight, especially great for large or boho earrings.
Brass jewellery should last beyond your lifetime.
Brass jewellery can be easily repaired, usually by an experienced metal-smith.
Don't have a panic attack! Un-lacquered or raw brass develops a patina over time. Some would say that's a negative, but if you prefer vintage-inspired jewellery, this is definitely a positive.
Finished brass is easily cleaned with a soft cloth in mild detergent and warm water. Remember to immediately dry the jewellery thoroughly too.
Return un-finished or 'raw' brass, back to its original gleaming self. Apply a paste of tomato sauce, (yes, you read that right), leave a few minutes, or longer if you want it really bright, then rinse and dry.
Brass adds a touch of gold lux without the outlay. But what do you consider to be the BEST reason to buy brass jewellery now?
I hope this article leaves you feeling BOLD AS BRASS when searching for future pieces. Looking for more reasons to wear brass jewellery? Discover how we use brass at Bird of Prey Jewellery...