how can I treat the brass so it isn't turning peoples skin green?
Teri, I use something like Jax Black (or anything with selenious
acid in it). It turns the brass black (or dark), you rinse it,
rub off however much of the black you want to, with damp pumice
(then rinse and dry), and after that it really doesn't affect (my)
skin much at all. I wear a wide nickel-silver ring a lot of the
time and it doesn't color my finger at all, even in the humidity
and heat (on the rare occasions we get any...) of upstate New York.
This treatment is also nice for creating shadows in recessed areas.
etc. Don't let any metal sit a long time in the Jax Black -- then
the "color" will just flake off. But it's tight otherwise.
Personally, I don't believe in lacquering or similarly coating
jewelry. If worn frequently (as I do), it only starts to peel and
look dreadful (in my opinion) and needs to be re-done.
Sorry to hear about your flood.
All the best,